Flying Squirrel Facts


What does a Flying Squirrel look like? Quick facts about the Flying Squirrel, features, characteristics and photo gallery.

Flying Squirrel; is the common name for nocturnal rodents of the family Sciuridae characterized by a furry membrane extending out from each side of the body to the wrists and ankles.

flying squirrel

When the legs are fully extended, the body and membranes form a broad surface that enables the animals to glide (not fly) from high branches or tree trunks. The giant flying squirrel (Petaurista) has been observed to glide for more than 2 1/2 miles (4 km). The North American flying squirrel (Glaucomys) can glide about 160 feet (50 meters). Flying squirrels are found in North America, Europe, and Asia; only one genus, Glaucomys, occurs in North America.

Flying squirrels range in size from the pigmy flying squirrel (Petaurillus) of Borneo and Malaya, which may be only 2 3/4 inches (70 mm) long, plus a 1/10 inch (3-mm) tail, to the giant flying squirrel (Petaurista) of Asia, which may reach 23 inches (58 cm) in length, plus a 25-inch (64-cm) tail, and up to 3 pounds ( 1.3 kg) in weight. Glaucomys, which ranges over most of North America where suitable wooded habitat occurs, grows to about 10 inches (27 cm) long, plus a 7-inch (18-cm) tail, and up to 6 1/2 ounces (184 grams) in weight. Flying squirrels eat acorns, buds, fruits, lichens, spiders, insects, birds’ eggs, and young birds. They often use cavities in trees as a den. They do not hibernate, and in North America as many as 20 flying squirrels may occupy the same winter den.

For the North American genus Glaucomys, mating begins in January, and gestation lasts about 40 days. Litters vary from 2 to 6 young, which are born pink, hairless, and blind. The eyes open after 25 days, and weaning is completed at about 70 days. These squirrels may live to 10 years of age.

Three genera in the African family Anomaluridae (the scaly-tailed squirrels) are also called flying squirrels because they possess the fur covered membrane and are capable of gliding.

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