How Do Flying Squirrels Fly?
Although it is called a flying squirrel, this small animal is actually a glider, not a flyer. A flying squirrel has furry flaps of skin between its front and back legs. When it stretches out its legs, these flaps of skin also stretch and form gliding “wings.'” These enable the flying squirrel to glide from tree to tree at great distances-sometimes as much as 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 meters)-in its search for nuts and other food.
The flying squirrel also has a flat, furry tail that it uses as a rudder while gliding. The squirrel uses both its tail and membrane to steer left and right, and even to make 180-degree turns. Flying squirrels live in the forests of Asia, Europe, and North America. They nest in hollow trees and hunt for food only at night.
The flying squirrel is normally brown on its back, and white on both its belly and the bottom side of its furry membrane. Nocturnal mammals, they have large, dark, bulging eyes that are well adapted for night vision. They also has something called “feelers,” which are sensitive whiskers used to make nocturnal travel easier. To mark forest routes, the squirrel uses scent glands in its cheeks.
The squirrels are most active between dusk and dawn. Omnivorous, it eats nuts, seeds, berries, insects, tree buds and sometimes eggs or nestlings. Although flying squirrels are mainly found in trees, they forage the forest ground for food. They run slowly and clumsily on the ground and, if startled far from a tree, will try to hide.