Beautiful they are, fly they do not – actually they glide. These small creatures are nocturnal, inhabiting cavities in trees and nest boxes as well as barns and cabins in wooded areas. They're fairly abundant in wooded areas and often visit bird feeders at night.
Then to stick its head out –
And finally to emerge –
That was one of the first of these beautiful flyers (err, gliders) I’d ever seen – a southern flying squirrel. Southern flying squirrels inhabit deciduous woodland from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast and west to the limit of dense woodland at the edge of the Great Plains.
Southern flying squirrels feed on fruit, nuts and fungi as well as insects, birds’ eggs and nestlings and carrion. They spend daylight hours in cavities, during non-breeding season in groups of up to 25-30 animals; cavities are also used for rearing the young –
Flying squirrels glide by using membranes (called the patagium) which reach from the front leg to the rear leg on each side of the body. At the end of a glide they swoop upward to land on a tree trunk and quickly scurry to the opposite side to avoid predation.
A closely related species, the northern flying squirrel, prefers coniferous woodlands and is found in scattered locations in the northern states and southward in both the Rocky and Appalachian mountains as well as throughout Canada and Alaska.
For several years I’ve occasionally scattered seeds in front of one of my camera traps to capture photos or videos of the southern flying squirrels that share their home territory with us –
Although flying squirrels are quite common, few people ever see these strictly nocturnal animals – I hope you enjoyed seeing them here.