Flying Squirrels

Here’s an unusual photo by Dave Bonta:
Flying Squirrel by Dave Bonta
It’s unusual because Flying Squirrels are generally nocturnal… in fact they are the only nocturnal squirrel here in Western New York.

The ranges of two species of Flying Squirrel overlap  in the northeast USA.  The Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomus sabrinus) is slightly larger than the Southern Flying Squirrel (G. volans).  If you sandwich the Eastern Chipmunk between them, you have our 3 smallest squirrels in order of size with the Southern Flying Squirrel being the smallest.

Both species are omnivorous.  Both will build twig-leaf nests, though they prefer tree cavities.  Neither hibernates, and neither truly flies.  Glides are achieved through the aid of the patagium, a fold of skin that stretches from wrist to ankle and is supported by a bit of cartiledge that extends the skin slightly beyond the foot.  This skin essentially turns the squirrel into a kite that can glide great distances compared to its body size.  The average glide of a Northern Squirrel is 66 feet, and that of the Southern 20-30 feet.

Based on where Dave lives and the apparent size of the squirrel in his picture above, I would guess it is the southern species, though I can’t be sure.  Here’s one from Sue in northern Ontario that I would guess is the northern species:
Flying Squirrel by Sue Nature Photonutt

If we could tickle their bellies, we would find the hairs on the Southern to be all white, while those on the northern are darker at the base and light at the tips.

Flying Squirrel Range MapNorthern
Total Length
:  10-12  inches
Tail Length:  4-6 inches
Weight: 2.5-4.5 ounces
Average Lifespan:  3-4 years

Southern
Total Length
: 9-10 inches
Tail Length:  3-4.5 inches
Weight:  2-3 ounces
Average Lifespan:  5 years

That’s the end of my squirrel series… Hope you enjoyed it!  Should I give you a quiz now?