Southern Flying Squirrel

Glaucomys volans
Family

Sciuridae (squirrels) in the order Rodentia

Description

A chipmunk-sized rodent with large dark eyes, a slightly upturned nose and large ears, all of which make it look a little like a mouse. Its soft, silky fur is mostly gray on top and white on the bottom. The males and females look alike. Between its front and back legs is a loose flap of skin that the squirrel stretches out like a kite when it is ready to "fly."

Size

Total length: 8–11¼ inches; tail length: 3–5 inches; weight: 1½–5 ounces.

FG-0010_Squirrel_Flying.mp4

Video of flying squirrels in the wild.

flying_squirrel.jpg

Photo of a flying squirrel
Flying Squirrel
Habitat and conservation

Flying squirrels live in holes in trees, usually leftover woodpecker holes. They can squeeze into a hole about the size of a quarter, so they could even live in your wren house or attic. They prefer mature forests with plenty of old dead or rotten trees riddled with woodpecker holes.

Foods

Like most squirrels, they eat nuts, fruits, berries, buds, tree bark and mushrooms. Unlike most squirrels, they also eat moths and beetles.

image of Southern Flying Squirrel Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

Common in forested areas, especially where water is near.

Life cycle

Between four and six babies are born in the spring, and sometimes a second litter is born in late summer. When they're first born, the babies are naked and blind and weigh about as much as six paper clips. They grow fast, though, and live about 5 or 6 years. Being nocturnal, flying squirrels cover the same trees and areas at night that their larger relatives, the gray and fox squirrels, occupy by day.

Human connections

These shy and beautiful little creatures are part of a healthy forest ecosystem. Many people enjoy their presence so much they put out special suet feeders and “birdhouses” to attract them.

Ecosystem connections

Many animals eat them, including bobcats, raccoons, weasels, owls, hawks and tree-climbing snakes. Their feeding on the buds of trees stimulates better tree growth; their eating wood-burrowing insects helps control those forms; and their burying nuts and seeds helps to continue the forest.