Are Flying Squirrels Nocturnal? [A Look At Their Behaviors]

are flying squirrels nocturnal

Flying squirrels are ubiquitous in some countries but also very elusive. This leads to many questions regarding these interesting rodents and leads many to wonder about their habits and behaviors. Among the most frequently asked questions regarding these squirrels is whether or not they are nocturnal. So, let’s learn more about this squirrel and when it is most active. 

Flying squirrels are nocturnal and very rarely seen during the day. These mammals are most active for two hours after sunset and two hours after sunrise. This behavior is due to their diet, which heavily consists of insects that are most active during these hours. 

Several species of squirrels are found worldwide, but the flying squirrel is among the most fascinating. 

The behavior of these small rodents is largely unknown by most people, but if you take the time to investigate them, you will discover some exciting things about them. 

Are Flying Squirrels Nocturnal?

More than 50 species of squirrel are related to the flying squirrel, and they all share similar habits and behaviors. More squirrels are diurnal and most active during the daylight hours. 

However, the flying squirrel is the exception to many regular squirrel behaviors. 

Flying squirrels are nocturnal animals. These rodents are not active during the day, regardless of the time of year or where they live. Instead, flying squirrels are exclusively active at night and generally behave very differently from most squirrels in the same family of species. 

The nocturnal behavior of these animals is due to the food they choose to eat and the predators that generally hunt small rodents such as these. 

No other squirrel species are exclusively nocturnal, and the flying squirrel is the only subspecies that behave this way. 

Flying squirrels are very common in many countries, especially the northern United States, but they are rare because they are rarely seen. 

The fact that the squirrels are nocturnal means that very few people see them, and they are very hard to locate if you go out looking for them.

This has given the squirrels a reputation for being very rare, tough to find, and very reclusive, but the truth is they are simply nocturnal animals. 

They are small, and they very rarely venture on the ground. 

These factors make this squirrel species challenging to find and even more difficult to see without intentionally looking for them. 

If you live in the Northern United States, you are likely to live near a group of Northern Flying Squirrels, but you are very unlikely to ever see them, especially by accident. 

When Are Flying Squirrels Most Active?

Flying squirrels are nocturnal creatures but do not behave the same way as many other nocturnal mammals. These squirrels seem to ignore all the behaviors they should and have developed their own unique behaviors that very few other mammals follow. 

Most flying squirrels are active for about two hours after sunset and about two hours before sunrise. 

This means flying squirrels are only ever truly active for around four hours in a twenty-four-hour cycle. 

This adds to the elusive nature of the creature and decreases the likelihood of ever spotting one of these animals in the wild if you are not explicitly looking for them. 

These two hours after dark and two hours before dawn are the most active hours for these squirrels due to the food they like to eat. 

These animals are so small and expend so much energy moving around, especially when gliding that they must conserve their energy. 

They can only afford to be truly active when their preferred food sources are most readily available. 

If a flying squirrel were to remain active for an entire night, the calorie deficit that the mammal would experience would lead the animal to the brink of exhaustion and even death. 

Staying active for only these short periods when food sources are most abundant keeps these squirrels alive and well, and there is enough food for them during these hours that they do not need to search for it at any other time. 

Why Are Flying Squirrels Nocturnal?

Flying squirrels are nocturnal creatures, and we have established they are active during the night hours due to the availability of the food that these mammals enjoy. 

Still, many wonder why these squirrels are only ever active during the night and what they eat that causes them to be nocturnal.

All species of flying squirrels are varied eaters with a very diverse diet, as they eat many nuts, fruit, and fungi, but these squirrels draw a significant portion of their food intake from insects. 

This major food source draws flying squirrels to only be active during the night hours. 

Insects are most active just after sunset and just before dawn. 

This is why flying squirrels are most active during these hours. Flying insects are abundant during these times, and the squirrels can eat their fill in a short period of time. 

Some flying squirrels, such as the Southern Flying Squirrel, are considered to be among the most carnivorous of all squirrels, as they have been known to supplement their regular diet with bird eggs, carrion, and even small birds themselves. 

Being active at night is a benefit for this behavior as well.

It is easier to raid a bird’s nest at night than during the day, and carrion is less likely to have attracted larger predators during the day, which means that the squirrel can eat in less danger of being eaten. 

Final Word

Very few squirrels behave this way, but the nocturnal nature of flying squirrels keeps them alive, well-fed, safe from predators, and very difficult to find. All species of flying squirrels are entirely or predominantly nocturnal. 

Flying squirrels are fascinating creatures and do not behave the same way as most other squirrels. 

If you live in a country with a population of flying squirrels, your best chance of seeing them is just after sunset. 

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