My Bantam Lake

Southern Flying Squirrel

Written on 06/28/2018

Glaucomys volans

Southern flying squirrels are most commonly found in temperate to subtemperate deciduous and mixed forests. Although they are not restricted to any particular type of forest, southern flying squirrels are more commonly found in beech-maple, oak-hickory, and poplar forests. They tend to either nest inside tree cavities or in nests made of leaves. Southern flying squirrels grow to a maximum length of 285 mm (range: 200-285 mm). Their ears are pink and hairless on the inside, and are covered in greyish brown hair on the outside. Southern flying squirrels have large eyes in relation to their body size. Eyes are black and encircled by black hair. The hair on their underbellies and under their nose is an off white cream color throughout, while the hair on their dorsal side and above their nose is greyish brown at the tips and black at the base. Southern flying squirrels breed twice a year, once in early spring (February to March) and again during the summer (May to July).Although it is not uncommon to see pairs of southern flying squirrels, males leave females prior to the birth of the offspring, and females solely take care of their offspring. Although squirrels are often thought to be confined to trees, southern flying squirrels travel along the ground and on top of logs while they forage. Southern flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal, and are extremely active at all times of the night during the summer months. Southern flying squirrels are extremely sociable animals that congregate in one nest during winter months and communicate with one another throughout the night. Contradictory of their name, southern flying squirrels do not actually fly, but rather glide between trees using their patagium. Prior to gliding, southern flying squirrels move their head from side to side in order to determine the distance to the targeted landing site. Once the distance has been appraised, they launch themselves into the air and simultaneously spread their arms and legs apart in order to draw the gliding membrane taut. The spread gliding membrane creates air resistance, which allows the squirrels to successfully glide distances up to 28 meters, although most glides are between 6 and 9 meters in length.Southern flying squirrels are omnivores, but display feeding habits that make them among the most carnivorous members of the Sciuridae family. The primary diet of southern flying squirrels includes insects, nuts, bird eggs, berries, carrion, and seeds. However, they have been known to opportunistically consume nestlings, blossoms, buds, fungi, lichen, and bark.


Source: Glaucomys volans Souther Flying Squirrel, Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum ofZoology