Squirrels are captivating little creatures, and the ones that can fly are even more amazing. Unfortunately, some people view southern flying squirrels as pests. Still, most people find them exciting and welcome them to the garden. More information about southern flying squirrels, such as size, habitats, and flying habits, helps people understand them.
Southern flying squirrels are small animals weighing at most four ounces. They live in heavily wooded areas, preferring broadleaf trees. The rodents fly by using a gliding membrane that stretches between their four legs. They are nocturnal and primarily arboreal animals that nest in trees.
Educating yourself about animals you might encounter in your garden is fascinating and helps you protect them and their habitat.
How Big Are Southern Flying Squirrels?
Flying squirrels range in size from just under eight inches (20cm) to eleven inches (28.5cm). Their tails take up about four inches (10cm) of their total length, and they only weigh two ounces (63 grams).
What Do Southern Flying Squirrels Look Like?
Southern flying squirrels have soft, dense, greyish-brown fur covering their ears, heads, and backs. In addition, the underside of their chests, abdomen, neck, and lower jaw is covered by creamy white fur.
Southern flying squirrels have enormous eyes that are circled by black hair. The inside of their ears is pink and hairless.
Their hind feet have five claws, and their front feet have four claws each.
The hind and forefeet are approximately the exact sizes. The southern flying squirrel has a broad flat fur-covered tail.
How Do Southern Flying Squirrels Fly?
Southern flying squirrels do not fly as birds or bees fly. They do not have wings to flap and cannot take off from the ground.
Southern flying squirrels have a fold of skin that connects the wrists of their front feet to the ankles of their hind feet. This skin or membrane is known as the gliding membrane or patagium.
The Southern flying squirrels use the patagium the same way a kite works. They spread out their legs and stretch the patagium out. It increases the surface area of the animal, increases air resistance, and allows it to glide in the air.
They could, therefore, more correctly be called gliding squirrels.
What Are The Flying Habits Of Southern Flying Squirrels?
Southern flying squirrels have been known to glide up to ninety-one feet (28 meters). Their usual flights are twenty-six to thirty feet (8 to 9 meters).
Before taking off, the squirrel tilts its head from side to side, allowing it to determine the distance to the goal. Then, the squirrel launches and stretches its legs to spread the patagium.
The tension in the gliding membrane can be altered to allow the southern flying squirrel to control the flight’s speed, course, and angle.
As some cartoons show, southern flying squirrels have perfected their landing technique and do not smack into trees. Instead, they flip up their tails to raise the front part of their bodies and slow down so they can latch onto the tree or land slowly on the ground.
Their tails may also be used for steering a course which is essential when aiming for a specific tree.
Moving their hands, legs, and feet aids in refining their steering. Quite astoundingly, they can change direction by 180° if necessary.
Southern flying squirrels are nocturnal. Many people do not know there are southern flying squirrels in the area, nor do they notice them flying as they are active after dark.
What Is The Typical Habitat Of Southern Flying Squirrels?
Southern flying squirrels live in deciduous forests or stands of trees. They can also be found in forests of mixed broadleaf and conifer trees.
They prefer oak, beech, maple, poplar, and hickory trees. Southern flying squirrels are more common in mountainous or hilly regions but can sometimes be found in lowland areas.
Where Are Southern Flying Squirrels Found?
Southern flying squirrels live in the eastern regions of the United States. They can be found as far north as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, but their numbers are much fewer this far north.
Southern flying squirrels are also found far south, with their range extending as far as Honduras and Mexico.
Do Southern Flying Squirrels Inhabit Suburban Gardens?
Southern flying squirrels may be found in suburban gardens in wooded areas. However, the numbers are fewer close to human habitation than in less populated regions.
Do Southern Flying Squirrels Go Down To The Ground?
Southern flying squirrels are primarily arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in the trees. However, they come down to drink from water sources and occasionally eat nuts that have dropped to the ground.
These squirrels are not agile or fast on the ground, which makes them vulnerable to predators. They prefer trees where they are well-equipped for climbing and gliding.
Where Do Southern Flying Squirrels Sleep?
Southern flying squirrels make nests in the trees. They use natural holes in the trees, old woodpecker nests, and other bird or squirrel nests. Crooks in the trees or hollows in branches also make suitable places for southern flying squirrels to sleep.
Do Southern Flying Squirrels Live In Groups?
Southern flying squirrels are sociable animals and live in large groups, often descriptively called a scurry of squirrels. They communicate with squeaks and whistles, some of them ultrasonic.
Their communication is regarded as relatively advanced and can indicate what kind of predator is around and how far away it is. Vocalizations may also be used for finding a mate and during feeding.
Southern flying squirrel groups often consist of related family members. However, they accept outside individuals into their group, which helps prevent inbreeding.
Southern flying squirrels are small animals that live in family groups. They live in trees and are active at night. They are an interesting animal to observe if you ever get the chance and are well worth staying out at night to see.
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