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Home / Animals / Rodents / Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Subfamily: Sciurinae
Tribe: Pteromyini

The scientific name for Flying Squirrels is Petauristini or Pteromyni, These belong to the 44 varieties of the tribes of squirrels. Unlike bats or birds, they cannot really fly high; they glide between trees. Flying squirrel belongs to the average-size rodents, resembling the squirrels seen across grasslands all over the world and in woodlands. They are a bit bigger in size when compared to the ordinary varieties.

Anatomy

Flying squirrels seem bigger in size when compared to the ordinary varieties. Flying squirrels have a furry elongated membrane that extends from its front leg to the back legs. When these flying squirrels want to escape fast, they stretch their legs and arms out and make use of the membrane that act like a parachute. The tail of the flying squirrel is flat and stubby, and they have large eyes. The color of the flying squirrel is brown on the back and white color on its belly and below the furry membrane.

Behavior

Flying squirrels are active at night because they are not thoroughly proficient in escaping from the birds of prey that hunt during the day. When the flying squirrel’s legs are stretched, the gliding membrane expands from the fore leg of the hind leg and helps them to glide from perch to perch, at times up to 150 feet.

Habitat

The variety from the northern side is a native of coniferous forests or mixed forests, whereas those from the southern side live in hardwood forests of hickory, oak, beech and maple. Most of the time we see them in Carolinian deciduous forests starting from the South of Ontario, you can also see them in the northern part of the Ottawa Valley and Muskoka, even in parts of Nova Scotia and Quebec.

As a Pet

Flying Squirrel. Photo by: Ken Thomas

Breeding

The Flying squirrels breed twice in a year, in the beginning of spring and once again in summer. Their gestation period remains for 40 days, after which, the female flying squirrel delivers from 2 to 7 little ones, These babies are naked and blind at birth.

Housing

Since they are not big a moderately small cage is enough for the southern flying squirrels. However, you must them with enough space for climbing and running about. They need more vertical space than floor space, hence a cage with height is fine. Furnish the cage with branches for climbing and chewing and cotton ropes hung in the cage for them to play and climb. Provide nest boxes and paper towels or facial tissues as nesting materials.

Food

The Flying Squirrel’s diet consists of both animals and plants in the wild, which means they are omnivorous animals. The flying squirrels of the southern areas consume insects, different types of nuts, fruits and seeds. When in captivity, they enjoy walnuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, acorns and sunflower seeds, In addition, they have different types of fresh veggies (corn and sweet potatoes are common), mix of bird seed and fruits. Apart from these, they eat wax worms and meal worms, and at times chicken or hard-boiled eggs. Proteins added to the diet is good. Moths too are their favorite.

Handling

When acquainted from an early stage, the flying squirrels become very familiar with the owner, climbing on him and playing with him or even sleeping in his pocket.

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