Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomysvolans)

The Southern Flying Squirrel is not capable of flying like a bird or bat. They glide between trees using a gliding membrane, called a patagium, which controls the direction of its flight and assists in making turns of90 to 180 degrees. They can glide 150 feet or more from a height of 60 feet depending on the air current. The Southern Flying Squirrel is the smallest of all squirrels. They are the most common flying squirrel in Connecticut. They are the only omnivorous member of the squirrel family. They are a very social animal and often nest together during the winter months to benefit from shared body heat. Southern Flying Squirrels are active year round but can reduce their metabolic rate and body temperature to conserve energy during the cold winter months. They do not enter into a true hibernation. They gather food in the fall and store it for the less active winter months. They are nocturnal animals and are not often seen by humans. Complaints about flying squirrels arise when they take up residence in a house or building to escape from the extreme cold during the winter months. Their vocalizations can be above the frequency range of the human ear at times. Some scientists believe that flying squirrels may use their vocalizations for echolocation.

Description: 

Southern Flying Squirrels have soft, gray brown fur on their back and sides and a white belly. They have large black eyes and prominent ears, which assist in their excellent night vision and excellent hearing. They have a loose flap of skin, called a "patagium," that connects the front and back legs, which serve as a gliding membrane when the limbs are fully extended. They have a gray bushy tail. They are 8-10 inches from head to end of tail, weighing between 1 and 4 oz. The male and female are similar in appearance but vary in their behavior, females being more aggressive than males.

Habitat: 

Prefer an older deciduous forest habitat, with oak, maples, hickory and beech trees that produce nuts and have good tree cover.

Range: 

Found across the entire eastern half of the United States from southeastern Canada to southern peninsula of Florida.

Diet: 

Omnivorous. Diet consists of tree nuts, acorns, tree bark, fungi, lichens, berries, fruits, seeds, flowers, buds, bird eggs, insects and carrion. 

Life Span: 

Average lifespan of five years in the wild and up to 15 years under human care.

Family Life: 
Nests are usually made in tree cavities or old woodpecker holes about 20-40 feet high in a tree but occasionally summer nests are built from leaves, twigs, moss and shredded bark. Some may even use a bird house as a nesting site. These flying squirrels may have two litters per year, early spring and summer. Peak breeding seasons are February through March, and August through October. Average litter size is 3-4, after a gestation period of approximately 40 days. The females are very attentive mothers. Males do not assist in caring of the young and usually leave before the young are born. By six weeks old, the young are able to forage on their own.
 
Status: 

Least Concern.