Flying Squirrel Information

SOUTHERN FLYING SQUIRRELS (Provided by Steve Patterson)

Description and History
Glaucomys Volans, the Southern Flying Squirrel, is found in Southern & Eastern United States. The smallest of the tree squirrels, its body color is gray to chestnut with a white belly. A flap of skin connects the back leg to the front wrist. This squirrel has very large eyes, which aid its nocturnal vision. You will rarely see one in the wild since they are very shy. It has a body length of 5 to 6 inches. Flying Squirrels can live in captivity for up to 15 years.

What kind of pet does Flying Squirrel make? A flying squirrel that has established a bond with its owner will make an amazing pet. The squirrel will want to be with you at all times. Your pet will learn the sound of your voice and, when he or she hears it, will come out of his nest box to greet you, dashing up and down your body as if you were a big tree. Your pet will soon feel safest sleeping in your pockets or under your clothes.

Breeding Flying Squirrels

Breeding pairs should be provided with two nest boxes. The female and male will stay together just before she births. A few days prior to to birth, she will take up housing in a vacant nest. Gestation is about 40 days and babies number 3-4. Babies are born with eyes closed and hairless. They have the gliding membranes from birth. They open their eyes at about 4 weeks of age and wean at about 8 weeks. Flying squirrels will breed up to twice a year in the wild and 3 times a year in captivity.

What do I look for in choosing a Flying Squirrel? The best age at which to purchase a Flying Squirrel is 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 weeks. At this age they are sure to bond to you. As the squirrel gets older, it will become less likely to bond to a human; for this reason, adult flying squirrels sold in pet stores will not make good pets.

How do they bond to you? Your six-week old flying squirrel won't quite be weaned from its mother's milk, so you will have to feed them Goat milk three times a day, which will aid in the bonding. Further bonding is accomplished by carrying your pet close to your body in a pouch or pocket for at least three hours a day (the longer the better). The squirrel will sleep happily while you carry on with your day. You can check the Nursing Department for related products.

The bigger the better as far as cages go. The mesh size should not exceed 1"x 1/2". Sugar Glider Cages are ideal. Cage furniture should include a Nest Box, branches, a salt spool, a calcium block, food, and a water dish.

We suggest flying squirrels be fed a complete pellet based food formulated specifically for squirrels. Exotic Nutrition's Squirrel Complete is highly recommended. It not only contains the nutritionally complete pellets, but also incorporates a variety of dried fruit and nuts in with the pellets. Each Squirrel will eat 5 -10 grams of the food daily. Your squirrel will also love pecans, but these are particularly fattening and should only be given as occasional treats. You may also supplement their diet with mealworms or other dried or canned insects.

Are they clean animals? Flying squirrels have no odor. Their droppings are dry. They will use one or two places in their cage for their toilet.

Do they need a companion? Flying squirrels are social animals. If you give your squirrel a lot of attention, it will be very happy. If you decide you want more than one squirrel in your home, do not house the two pets together at first, as they will bond to each other. Bond to each one individually for several months, then you can put them in the same cage.

Are they prone to any health problems? Flying squirrels are susceptible to calcium deficiency problems. Hanging a calcium block or giving a supplement like Squirrel-Cal in addition to feeding a complete pellet diet will help prevent such problems. Flying squirrels do not need any routine vaccinations.

How will they get along with other animals? A squirrel introduced at a young age to the family dog or cat should not have a problem co-existing with these animals, provided they respect his small size. Larger animals should be supervised when your squirrel is out of his cage.

Who should own a Flying Squirrel? Flying squirrels need owners who are dedicated. The whole bonding experience is a real joy to go through: feeding the squirrel milk and carrying it around in its bonding pouch is a delight for a child (age 10 and up) or adult, but it does take a commitment. Once a flying squirrel bonds to his or her owner, continued attention must be given each day. If your lifestyle calls for you to be out of town often, a flying squirrel will not be the ideal pet for you. And remember, once your squirrel bonds to you, it is not easy to place the animal in another household.

Although considered arboreal animals, flying squirrels do spend a small percentage of time on the ground, foraging for food such as fungi, insects and ground-level-fruiting berries. They also store nuts in shallow holes dug into the ground. It is at this time when they are most vulnerable to predation by land carnivores such as bobcat, coyote, wolf, house cat, etc.

Most foraging is done in the relative safety of the trees and shrubs in the animals' home range. Ground foraging is performed within "safe scamper distance" from a tree trunk. Males generally have a larger home range than females, however, any home range, where foraging is concerned, is dependent upon available food supplies. If there is a paucity of food in any given area, a flying squirrels' range will be increased. The reverse is true if there is an abundance of food at hand.

Flying squirrels, as a rule, are scatter-hoarders, although southern flying squirrels have been known to stash large quantities of beech nuts in "larder cavities" (large natural cavities in trees). Northern flying squirrels are much less likely to larder hoard. In fact, there is no documentation regarding larder hoarding activity in northerns. Flying squirrels, once they have located a food item, will either eat it right on the spot, or find a suitable location to store it, for, it is hoped, retrieval at a later time. Areas where a flying squirrel may store its find can be notches and crevices in tree branches, natural cavities, shallow digs under the forest floor leaf litter, and under logs. They will press the food into the storage spot by banging it down with their incisors. Depending upon location and time of year, one can often hear the rapid "bonk bonk bonk bonk bonk" sound of hard mast being stashed by a flying squirrel on a windless night in the forest. Sometimes they will "finish off" the storing ritual with a few pats of the forepaws.


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Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not in a position to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please visit our animal info tabs or consider purchasing a care guide book for additional information. If you have a health or pet emergency issue, please notify your veterinarian or a specialized technician.