SOUTHERN FLYING SQUIRREL
"A small, brown, furry, white-bellied little creature, Glaucomys volans, known as the Southern flying squirrel, appears to be a conglomerate of a dormouse, a chinchilla, a squirrel, a rabbit, a pika and a lemur. Its large nocturnal eyes, loving nature and gliding ability have made it a popular pet for hundreds of years."
Flying Squirrels are small, cute, furry and nocturnal. They have a beautiful soft shiny brown coat with a milky white to cream colored underside and very long and delicate whiskers. Their deep dark brown eyes are proportionately large, helping them see at night. Their noses are tiny and their sense of smell keen. They are gregarious, often living and foraging closely together. In the wild they typically share a nest cavity in the cold months with as many as 25 males and 75 females in one colony.
Flying squirrels have many characteristics in common with their larger, diurnal cousins, the tree squirrel, except for special flaps of skin along its sides, from wrist to ankle called a patagium. When they jump from tree to tree or from person to person they stretch out their sides and become a sort of furry kite. They can glide downward ... 3 horizontal feet for every foot in elevation. Thus, if a flyer begins its glide from 50 feet up a tree, tall, it may cover 150 feet of ground before coming to a landing on either another tree or the ground. This is their unique ability to "fly." When they glide from one thing to another, and you can see their gliding membrane spread out in full flight and it is an awesome sight!
They are also know for their "questionmark" (?) pose. They will wrap their beautiful feather-like tail around their body and face in a very interesting position while sleeping.
A flyers average life span in a natural setting is about 5 years. The major causes of death are by predators and some health issues (internal and external parasites, diseases and weakening of bone structure due to calcium absorption problems often seen in nocturnal animals). In a controlled environment as companion animals, if properly fed, flyers can live up to 15 years. A full grown Flying Squirrel will weigh only 1 to 2 ounces. Tom Risch, PhD from the Dept of Biology at Arkansas State University, states that in the wild, "Of the about 2,000 squirrels that I caught over the years, only a very few were ever over a 100 grams. So in the wild, a 3 oz squirrel is huge and a 4 oz squirrel is unheard of." Even though they are nocturnal, they do not mind being woken up during the day. Most willingly extend the "awake time" to include some daylight hours in order to play with their human companions.
The natural range of the Southern Flying Squirrel includes the deciduous forests of the lower eastern Canadian providences (from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario) and the Eastern United States from New England south to Florida and west of the Mississippi as far as the Great Plains. They are also found in a few areas of Central America.
Flying squirrels are know for their unique personalities and for their willingness to bond to their human caretakers. They have been documented as tame pocket pets since Captain John Smith, Governor of Johnstown Colony, wrote about them in the year 1606. Other early writings also tell of how easily they may be tamed.
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