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Southern Flying Squirrel

American Flying Squirrel

Family: Sciuridae Picture of "Tinkerbell", a Southern Flying Squirrel"Tinkerbell"Glaucomys volansPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Kym Johnson
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Hello, I found a baby flying squirrel at my fiance's parent's house yesterday. My fiance's mother informed me that the dog and cats had messed with it and he even... (more)  Victoria

   These intriguing little squirrels have a large fold of furred skin stretching from their forefeet to their hind feet which they spread out like a parachute and glide from tree branch to tree branch, thus their name "flying squirrel"!

   The Southern Flying Squirrel or American Flying Squirrel is the squirrel most commonly found available in the U.S. pet trade. They are the littlest of the squirrel species with only a 3-4 inch long body. Their tiny size, along with a natural tendency to want to rustle around or even snuggle up and sleep in your pocket, makes the Flying Squirrel a perfect "pocket pet".

   At first, Flying Squirrels are very shy when meeting new people. A young squirrel that has been raised in captivity or taken from its mother at weaning time will accept handling the easiest.

   Flying Squirrels are nocturnal so after sleeping all day, these little fellows will be very playful and full of energy from dusk to dawn. To keep their muscles strong they not only need places to play, but need a regular opportunity to glide. Putting your pet up on a high shelf and letting it glide back to you will be rewarding for both of you!

For more information about the care of Flying Squirrels see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Squirrel


Geographic Distribution
Glaucomys volans
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Sciuridae
  • Genus: Glaucomys
  • Species: volans
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Scientific name: Glaucomys volans

Background:    Southern Flying Squirrels are found mostly in the Eastern part of North America, inhabiting parts of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Description:
   Southern Flying Squirrels or American Flying Squirrels are just 7-8 inches long (with 4" of that being the tail), and they weigh just 3 ounces when fully grown.
   Flying Squirrels have a furred membrane of skin that stretches from their forefeet to their hind feet which allows them to glide from tree branch to tree branch, thus their name "flying squirrel",
   Their fur is silky and has soft dense undercoat. Their overall appearance of their fur is mostly rusty-brown or grayish-red, with a lightly colored underbelly. But upon close inspection the hair is a actually a mixture of several colors including gray, red, and beige, and there is a soft gray undercoat.
   They rest in the hollows of trees during the daytime, and will search the treetops for food after dark. Their natural foods consist of insects, birds' eggs, nuts and various kinds of fruits.
   They not only have 20 regular teeth, but like all rodents, they have sharp incisors that continually grow, and will need hard chews to keep them worn down.
   The female will produce a litter of three to six young twice a year.

Interesting Facts:    - The furred membrane of skin they can stretch out parachute like,enables
      them to glide for long distances through tall trees - sometimes up to160
      feet! They often make sharp turns just before landing.
   - Flying Squirrels are nocturnal, meaning that they sleep during the day and
      are active at night. This means they have to watch out for night predators,
      such as owls.
   - They live in very tall trees since their primary means of traveling is by
      gliding, and they are awkward on the ground. They don't have to worry
      about ground predators, but they do have to be wary of such animals as
      hawks.
   - With their natural instinct being to save up foods for the winter, they are very
      active hoarders. Make sure to check their nest regularly to discard any
      perishables!
   - Besides needing to chew regularly to keep their incisors trim, Flying
      Squirrels need extra calcium. Sterilized bones and pieces of deer antler
      work great for both these needs.

Dr. Jungle chuckles...."wow Tinkerbell sure livens up her new family's life!
Tinkerbell is a tree ornament!

"This was her first Christmas. My husband and I love her just like a daughter. She is so cute!
Tinkerbell loves to play on our curtains in the living room, coming down to play with us or see if we have something to eat!"

Tinkerbell is a Southern Flying Squirrel

Tinkerbell is a female Southern Flying Squirrel.

Tinkerbell, a Southern Flying Squirrel that has landed!

"One of her favorite foods is sugar snap peas. Of course she also loves cashews, pecans and whole un-shelled peanuts.
Tinkerbell has a ferret sized wheel in her cage which she runs in at night while we are asleep. Recently she likes to play this game in the living room where she climbs up high on the curtains and "flys" to me. We do this over and over again. She never gets tired!! When she gets bored she will climb inside my shirt and nip at me until I play with her. We just love her so much! My life would be so boring without her. I can't believe how lucky we are to have her."...Kym Johnson

Photos Courtesy: Kym Johnson

Author: Jasmine Brough
Lastest Animal Stories on Southern Flying Squirrel

Victoria - 2013-04-14
Hello, I found a baby flying squirrel at my fiance's parent's house yesterday. My fiance's mother informed me that the dog and cats had messed with it and he even got bitten on the leg. My fiance's dad also accidentally sucked him into the vacuum cleaner. The poor little guy was really scared and so he bit me which is understandable. I got a little fish aquarium to keep him in for the time being and I purchased food for a hamster which has nuts, corn, and dried fruits in it. I am not really sure what he needs to drink. He is about six weeks old. I have a very big cage that my old monkey lived in for him to live in. I don't want him to die. He has been through a lot already so I want to make sure that I am doing things correctly. Any tips??

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-04-14
    I would be concerned about broken bones or internal injuries, but it sounds like he may be okay as you didn't say if he's having any trouble getting around or acting funny. The comments from re-habbers and other folks above have some great info on what they drink and other baby foods! Good luck
  • wook - 2013-06-02
    go to www.thesquirrelboard.com and go to the forum and ask for tips.
  • Anonymous - 2014-09-25
    My sister and I raised 10 squirrels. We went to the vet and they gave us a bunch of of free syringes with little nipple attachments. We tried the small bottles from WalMart and (trust me on this one) did not work. We used WalMart kitten formula. Heat it luke warm. For the first times you have to carefully hold their tiny heads. Make SURE your thumb is barely pushing because they can kinda suck it out on there own. The nipple will look very long and hard but trust me it's fine this. Has worked on my 10 babies and on all of my cousin's squirrels. Once or twice and I promise they got the hang of it. 😉
Reply
victoria - 2009-11-02
Hi all you Flyer Lovers! I'm a wildlife rehabber on the east coast and have been for 13 years. It was interesting reading your comments on this website. As a matter of opinion I'd like to say that while I am an advocate of releasing back to the wild any animals that we can help, I also advocate captivity in certain circumstances. My only trouble after all these years, is the failure of some folks to get educated on keeping wild animals and their lack of commentment to keeping that animal for the duration of its life. Even though most wild animals can be somewhat humanized, they will still stay wild to a certain degree. It takes many centuries to fully tame a species. However I have found that my little flyers do so well in captivity that its plain to see why they make good pets. So I know what its like to want to keep them and also know how to set them free. As long as a person is willing to provide everything these animals need, then I feel they are much better to have as pets in the U.S.A. than some exotic species from other countries that doesn't have any business being here. They make great pets and all animals were wild at some point as one of you have said.

  • joann - 2010-02-20
    I totally agree, with you Victoria, I personally think if the animal can be released and survive, that it should be...after all the wild is what they know, and I feel they should be free...I watch them in my back yard every night and enjoy them very much...just watching them be free...

    joann
  • liesa - 2010-03-25
    How do you apply to be a wildlife rehibilator, I live in the country and have room. I would love to do something like this?
  • Christi Maude - 2010-10-29
    We found a flying squirrel in woods 10 days ago and have kept him in a large cage and fed him properly, played with him morning and evening. He is very sweet. However, I feel very guilty and feel maybe we have done him a disservice. How can I release him properly? Do I just release him right where we found him or what? We live in Md. and I found out it is illegal to keep him here.
  • Ashley - 2010-11-01
    Is keeping one legal in Onslow county North Carolina?
  • Shelley - 2011-01-08
    Hi Victoria! I am also in Eastern NC and would love to know if you guys ever get flying squirrels in that can't be released to the wild? I would love to offer some a home if needed. I am an avid animal lover and have hand-raised several parrots and would love to offer help to these special little guys/gals. :) Please, contact me if this is a possibility.
  • April - 2011-06-22
    Since you say you are a rehabber, I was wondering if you'd be interested in having a baby flying squirrel. He's around 4 months old. I believe I have 2 females and one male. One of the females is 8 inches and the other is the 4 month old sibling of the male. I really need to get rid of the male or I'm going to have more squirrels than I can handle. I just can't bring myself to release them. They are the best little things. I am in Tennessee. Please let me know....or if you have any suggestions. Thanks.
Reply
Linda - 2013-03-16
Sorry changing the subject....i have a flyer his name is Parker. Have had him since Dec 2012, was about 5 wks old eyes still shut. Came to my lake camp had him in his cage, went outside for just abit he was in my shirt, usually he stays right with me but he jumoed off and was gone! It was around 8:30 at night, i sat outside in my lawn chair, i could hear him squeek so i would call his name. Around 1:00am yes still sitting outside with aheavy heart, i was looking in the trees, I saw him glide throughthe trees...Just Beautiful!!!!! So i said alittle prayer if this is where he is suppose to be at least he is happy. Still outside 3:00am saw him again gliding from tree to tree. Finally at 4:30 I dozed off in my chair, then I heard him behind me in one of the pine trees..I walked over extended my arm said I was sleepy lets go to bed..........he came down from the tree about 20 ft jumped on my hand an ran down my shirt snuggled next to my side went to sleep!!!! I was so amazed!!!!! Just wanted to share my adventure with Parker the flying squirrel!

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Anonymous - 2013-04-20
Need help!! My 9 week old flyer is in the house and I can't Find him.:( how do I catch him when I can't find him?

  • Milla - 2013-05-04
    You should put something out what he likes because I think he can easily sniff it out. Squirrels are good at smeling things out. Just try(; From milla to Anonymous
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Debbie Tsikuris - 2009-10-15
We found an approx. 5 week old flying squirrel 10/9/09, and after reading up on them did our best to care for him. The local wild life authority said we could keep him. He was doing great(on low fat milk), but after I started him on formula from a local pet store he died. We are broken hearted. We had bonded with him so quickly I feel awful that maybe I did something wrong. When he was on the milk he was looking much better than when we had first found him. Don't know what I did wrong, but know I saved him from all of the hawks, owls, etc. we have around. Would love another one, reading more about them all of the time. Thank you for your wonderful web page.
debbie

  • Wild Life Rehabber - 2010-10-29
    Debbie, I am a wild life rehabber and we NEVER feed any wild animals cows milk because it is too hard for them to digest (MANY fawn we have taken in have died because the person who found them had them on cows milk) try organic goats milk if you have to use grocery store items until you can get to a pet store. We feed the flying squirrels we rescue puppy milk, either Fox Valley or Esbilac. They need fat in their diet, temperature of the milk is important and if you are syringe feeding them let them have up to 3cc. Put nuts and Cheerios in the cage so they can start "shredding" they do this before they start eating solids. I would say good luck if you get another one but I would also suggest that you try to find it a partner and release them in your back yard. They are wild life and LOVE to jump and play in ways they cannot in a cage of any size. Just my opinion of course.
  • J Blue - 2011-03-04
    Until they open their eyes (around 5-6 weeks), as well as the immediate weeks following the babies should be fed a combination of SCALDED WHOLE MILK (they need the fat) mixed with plain yogurt which stabilizes their intestinal tracks as well as their bowels. I found that a 1cc syringe pushed very slowly to work the best. After they open their eyes and it becomes obvious that their teeth are beginning to grow you may offer them mashed banana and natural applesauce. Even as you cut back or delete the syringe feedings you should continue to offer the milk mixture for at least 6 more weeks as they need the calcium and vitamin D. At this point you may began mixing the banana, applesauce or even peanut butter to the milk/yogurt mixture. You may also begin offering different nuts and vegetables as you notice the teeth developing more. Everyone I have consulted with agrees that the commercial "mothers substitute milk" usually esibilac or kitten milk is consistently ineffective for sustaining the baby flying squirrels. My heart goes out to you in your loss; hopefully God will place another unfortunate nocturnal angel into you care and you will have the opportunity to rehabilitate and release them. It is unkind to keep them in captivity unless special situations apply, such injury or illness that causes a handicap that would impede and prevent them from adapting and surviving on their own.
  • Brenda - 2011-05-23
    I also am a rehabber. Our education says that Esbilac must be simmered with ground nuts (walnuts/pecans...) then strained to remove the nuts. They need the oil from the nuts. Never use cows milk and it should be the puppy Esbilac.
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Sandra Stephenson - 2012-05-20
I have a flying squirrel i think she is a little over a year old my daughter brought her home when she was just maybe 2 weeks old and she is doing great but i am concerned about her front teethe growing to long . Can they be trimmed or what do i do ? Also how long do they live in captivity ?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-05-20
    In the wild it is said to be about 6 years and I would think it would be at least that in captivity. For the teeth - you can get a hard chew toy--- lava rock bird toy, dog bone, soup bone (boil it) usually knuckle bones at grocery store. Something hard for it to chew on and it will wear her teeth down. Vet can also probably sand them down but i don't think she will like it.
  • Rick - 2012-09-01
    My wife not only make sure our squirrel has shelled nuts to gnaw on like hazel nuts, brazil nuts, almonds and pecans, we also purchased flavored wood chews in the hamster section at the pet store. She seems to enjoy them and her teeth are doing well.
  • Kisha - 2012-12-04
    I have heard a calcium block is used for ones kept in captivity, as pets to wear down the teeth.
  • bryan - 2014-06-25
    I've done so much reading on these flying squirrels yet I can't find out how they are with children, new borns etc. Can you help me out?
  • Linda Jo Decker - 2014-09-25
    Me and my sister have raised 5 flying squirrels. We have one now. She is 5 which is longer than usual. We keep small sticks in there for her she enjoys chewing them. It gives her Something to do. They also need calcium so it is good to keep pieces of deer antler or sterilized bones. I hope I was helpful!! 😉
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