Can Flying Squirrels Swim?

can flying squirrels swim

There are several species of squirrels, and they are all fascinating. Most squirrels are similar in many ways, but there is one that stands out from the rest. The flying squirrel is the most interesting, but many questions need to be answered regarding this unique creature. The most common question about the flying squirrel is whether or not this animal can swim.

Flying squirrels can swim, but they are very poor swimmers. The patagium that enables these animals to glide slows them down in the water and prevents them from swimming efficiently. As a result, flying squirrels must return to land very quickly if they fall into the water or they risk drowning. 

Flying squirrels have many abilities and can do something that most other mammals cannot, but are these squirrels, good swimmers? Other squirrel species are known to be very capable in the water, but is this also true for flying squirrels? Let’s find out!

Can Flying Squirrels Swim?

Flying squirrels are so-called because they are equipped with a patagium, which is a membranous skin structure that some mammals have to aid them with gliding or flight. 

Flying squirrels do not actually fly but can glide long distances if they jump from a good enough height. 

There are around 50 species of flying squirrels, all of which have their own unique characteristics, despite all being part of the Sciuridae family. 

Most squirrels are adept swimmers, and many can travel short distances in water, but does the physical structure of the flying squirrel inhibit the animal from swimming?

The truth is that flying squirrels can swim but are not good swimmers. The patagium and webbed skin on the paws of the flying squirrel prevent it from swimming effectively. 

These squirrels can swim well enough to keep themselves from drowning and make it back to dry ground f they are close enough to it. 

No flying squirrel actively uses water for travel or for looking for food, as some other squirrels do, but it is possible that a flying squirrel may end up in the water. These animals are not good swimmers but can stay afloat if needed.

Are Flying Squirrels Likely To Drown?

The fact that flying squirrels are not good swimmers and that there have been many accounts of several species of squirrel drowning relatively quickly leads people to wonder if a flying squirrel is likely to drown if it ends up in the water. 

The unfortunate truth is that if a flying squirrel ends up in the water too far away from land, it may drown. 

These animals are not adept swimmers, and the way their bodies function means they are likely to struggle in the water, tire themselves out trying to swim, and end up drowning due to exhaustion. 

However, if a flying squirrel lands in water near dry land, they are very unlikely to drown, as it can swim well enough to get itself out of the water if the dry ground is close enough. 

Squirrels are very small animals, and flying squirrels are some of the smallest. Swimming is a very tiring activity; if a flying squirrel has to swim, it will use its energy very quickly, which significantly increases the risk of drowning. 

Do Flying Squirrels Float?

Another commonly asked question regarding flying squirrels is whether or not these animals can float. For example, does the flying squirrel’s patagium enable the animal to float on the water?

The skin membrane that enables the flying squirrel to glide in the air, it does not allow the animal to float. This patagium only functions if the air is trapped under it, and it is more likely to drag a squirrel underwater than to enable it to float on the surface. 

Flying squirrels can float if their fur is dense enough, and some species are known to do so, but it is not a trait that is enabled by the squirrel’s patagium. 

How Fast Can Flying Squirrels Swim?

Flying squirrels are not good swimmers but can stay above the water when needed. But can these animals swim quickly enough to evade predators and get to land quickly?

The truth is that these squirrels are unable to swim quickly. If you ever see a flying squirrel in the water, it looks more like it is floundering than swimming, and the animal cannot swim quickly due to how its body is designed. 

The extra skin these squirrels have that helps them glide prevents them from moving through the water efficiently and keeps them slow in the water. 

If a water-bound predator finds a flying squirrel in the water, the squirrel is very unlikely to evade the predator unless it reaches land. 

Is It Dangerous For Flying Squirrels To Swim?

The fact that flying squirrels are such poor swimmers means it is dangerous for these animals to swim. Flying squirrels will usually avoid getting into the water and usually only come close to water to drink, but if they end up submerged and having to swim, they can be in real trouble. 

As we have already learned, these animals cannot swim quickly, and the act of swimming quickly exhausts the animal, leaving it very vulnerable in the water. 

The animal can drown easily if it gets too tired, it can be devoured by large fish, and other water predators, birds of prey may see the animal in the water and hunt it. The animal may not make it to land before being overcome by the water. 

Swimming is very dangerous for flying squirrels. 

Why Do Flying Squirrels Swim?

Why do flying squirrels swim if swimming is so dangerous for these animals?

Flying squirrels do not actively enter the water for swimming. These animals avoid getting into the water if they can, but they may end up in the water because they have accidentally fallen from a tree, mistimed a glide, or been knocked out of the tree by wind or a predator. 

These circumstances require flying squirrels to know how to swim, even if they are not very good at it. 

Can Gray, Fox and Red Squirrels Swim?

These tree squirrels are better swimmers than the flying squirrel. Like dogs, they use their legs and arms to propel them across the water. That said, you won’t see them in the water very often. All squirrels use the water for survival and bathing, they don’t purposely swim.

Bodies of water offer many dangers to squirrels. There are predators, like fish, that can eat them. There’s also the risk of drowning if they can’t get out of the water fast enough. That’s why you’ll usually see squirrels sticking to land.

Final Word

Fling squirrels are fascinating animals with many interesting abilities, but they are not good swimmers. These creatures are at home in the trees, and they can easily glide from one branch to another, but they are not capable of swimming well at all. 

If you ever see a flying squirrel in the water, help it out if possible. 

These animals are not safe in the water. It is unlikely that a flying squirrel will enter the water, but if it does, it must get back to land very quickly. 

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