Flying Squirrels Information
Flying Squirrels are the smallest of all tree dwelling squirrels. It is difficult to identify the differences between the two species of Flying Squirrels that are found in the United States. The Northern Flying Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel look almost exactly alike. The Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel and the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel are two sub-species of the Southern Flying Squirrel found in North America which are on the endangered list.
Flying Squirrels are most active at night after the sun sets and before the sun rises because they are nocturnal. Flying Squirrels do not actually fly as their name implies but glide as they stretch out all four legs which opens up excess fur covered skin which is located above their front foot to above their back foot on both the left and right side. This excess fury covered skin allows them to glide up to 65 to 80 feet on average from one tree to another but have been observed gliding an impressive 270 feet. This incredible ability allows them to stay high in the tree canopy without touching the ground for long periods of time. They are able to influence the direction in which they are gliding by slightly moving their legs and adjusting the tightness of the excess fury skin that allows them to glide. The tail is also used to help direct their landing and to slow them down and to bring them to a stop.
What does the Flying Squirrel look like?
Northern Flying Squirrels
Northern Flying Squirrels are larger than the Southern Flying Squirrel measuring an average of 10 to 12 inches long. Juveniles are often confused with Southern Flying Squirrels do to their smaller size. The average body weight of a full grown adult is 2.64 and 2.93 ounces. Their fur comes in a variety of colors such as cinnamon to reddish brown to a charcoal grayish or blackish brown. The fur on the under belly is dark gray or charcoal with lighter colored tips. Like Southern Flying Squirrels the Northern Flying Squirrel has an excess flap of fur covered skin which is located on both the left and right side from the lower part of their front leg to the lower part of their back leg. Because they are a nocturnal species they have large round eyes.
Southern Flying Squirrels
Southern Flying Squirrels are smaller than the Northern Flying Squirrel. Southern Flying Squirrels measure from 9 to 10 inches long with a body weight of around 2 to 4 ounces. They are a charcoal to a grayish brown and have a white under belly with a bold black ring around their large round eyes. Fury loose skin called patagium stretches from their front leg just above their foot to their back leg just above their foot.
What are the social behaviors of Flying Squirrels?
Both the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels are very social amongst their own kind. They will forage in large groups during the night. They live together in colonies of 2 to 10 squirrels and sometimes even more. The males and females form separate groups during the summer or the time period in which the females are raising their young however both males and females make up the colony during the colder months of late fall, winter and early spring. Females raise young on their own and may be aggressive and protect the territory surrounding their nest when they have young. The females will stamp their front feet and lung forward toward an opponent if they fell threatened. They may also slap the face of an opponent. Females typically have a home range of about 1 acer and males about 1 ½ acers.
Both Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels use vocal communications as part of their social behavior. Often homeowners will hear Flying Squirrels on their property before seeing them. Many of their vocal tones are mistaken as birds chirping. Other vocal tones sound like a sneeze, loud squeals, and high pitch repetitive chirps. Some vocals are ultrasonic and high pitch squeaks almost like a dog squeaky toy. Some of these ultrasonic vocals are believed to be used an echolocation when they are gliding.
What do Flying Squirrels eat?
Both the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrel can store up to 15,000 nuts in one season for their winter stash. They stash food away in their nest, in gaps throughout the trees, and in the ground so they have food to eat throughout the winter months. Flying Squirrels eat acorns hickory nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pecan nuts, fungi, lichens, mushrooms, hardwood mast, insects, tree sap, tree buds, bird seed, flowers, berries, fruit, slugs, snails, beechnuts, tree bark, and many types of seeds. Seed and suet cakes from bird feeders provides a health source of food for Flying Squirrels. This omnivorous species will also feed on bird eggs, baby birds, flesh of dead animals, mice, baby mice, shrews, and invertebrates.
Where are Flying Squirrels found?
Northern Flying Squirrels
Northern Flying Squirrels are found in Alaska as well as from Canada down to Northern California and From Colorado to the mid-west into Wisconsin and parts of Michigan eastward to Tennessee into northern North Carolina. There are small pockets throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Black Hills and other areas were old coniferous forest exist.
Southern Flying Squirrels
Southern Flying Squirrels are found in the eastern parts of North America from Canada southward to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia down to Florida and across the boarder into Mexico and Honduras. They prefer to live along streams and wetlands in older coniferous forest.
Where do Flying Squirrels live?
Naturally Flying Squirrels will nest or den in tall older trees but started denning in homes and buildings when Europeans first settled America. Their nest are found in areas where trees are close together so they can glide from one tree to another and rarely step foot on the ground. They construct their nest (also known as dreys) with twigs and bark and line the interior of the nest with feathers, fur, dried evergreen needles and dried leaves. These nest are mostly used in the warmer summer months to raise their young.
During the colder months of winter colonies of between 2 to 10 Flying Squirrels will use the same den site to keep warm. These dens are located in abandoned Woodpecker holes in tall older trees. They are also found in nesting boxes for birds, in attics, in crawl spaces, in barns, and in apartment buildings. These dens are usually found between 8 and 20 feet off the ground with entry holes that measure about 1 ½ “ inches in diameter. Dens that are located in tree cavities and abandoned Woodpecker nest only have a single entry hole of about 1 ½” inches in diameter.
This Frederick, Maryland home in the photo above had a Flying Squirrel infestation. This homeowner reported hearing and seeing Flying Squirrels for about a year. They tried to get rid of the Flying Squirrels on their own but epically failed. They started seeing stains on the ceiling in the upstairs bedroom from the squirrel urine before they decided to call an expert. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control was able to trap and remove 5 Flying Squirrels and do a lot of repair work around the roof top where the squirrels were entering.
What are the mating habits of Flying Squirrels?
Northern Flying Squirrels
Northern Flying Squirrels begin courtship in February through to the end of March. If the winter weather is harsh then courtship may continue into April and even May. They only have one partner during a mating season but may have a different partner each mating season. A litter of 3 to 6 young are born about 40 days after mating. Northern Flying Squirrels only have one litter per year.
Southern Flying Squirrels
Southern Flying Squirrels usually breed twice per year especially in the southern regions. Their mating seasons are February to April and July to September. Populations residing to the far south may mate earlier or later. They have a gestation period of about 40 days after which they give birth to between 1 and 6 young.
How many young do Flying Squirrels have and how do they raise their young?
Southern Flying Squirrels give birth to between 1 and 6 young twice per year with an average litter size of 2 or 3 young. Northern Flying Squirrels give birth to between 2 and 4 young once per year. Female Southern and Northern Flying Squirrels raise their young without the help of the males.
Southern Flying Squirrels weigh around 4 or 5 grams at birth and Northern Flying Squirrels around 5 or 6 grams. New born of both species arrive with toes fused together, blind and unable to hear as their eyes and ears are closed and have not fully developed. By day six the toes have fully separated and their eyes and ears are opened between 25 to 34 days. They are weaned from their mother around 60 to 65 days however they begin venturing out of the nest by day 38 to 45 and experimenting with different foods. The second litter of Northern Flying Squirrels usually stays in the nest until the following spring. Flying Squirrels are considered juveniles and are not fully mature until they reach a year old. Both the Northern and Southern version breed the following summer after their birth.
What type of damages do Flying Squirrels cause?
Flying Squirrels find attics and crawl spaces to be the perfect place to den or nest especially through the late fall months through winter and into the early spring months. Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels can cause a great deal of damage to a home. They destroy attic insulation and turn attics into a giant litter box as they urine and defecate throughout the attic space. Like many rodents Flying Squirrels are known for urinating and defecating in the same area over and over like a cat. Eventually the urine will saturate the plaster or sheet rock ceiling below the attic causing stain markings on the ceiling below. In abundance their urine and feces will cause a fail odor throughout the house.
It is common for Flying Squirrels to chew on wiring causing electrical malfunctions in a home. The most important damage Flying Squirrel cause is when they chew the outer protective coating off of electrical wiring creating a fire hazard. They also chew on air handlers on A/C units in attics rendering the air conditioner useless. They are known for chewing hole in aluminum siding, cedar siding, and stucco to gain entry into attics and crawl spaces. They will often enter a home through pre-existing gaps between the drip edge and fascia board however they will usually chew the fascia board to make the entry point bigger. Gnaw makings from Flying Squirrels can be found on support beam in any attic they inhabit. In extreme cases when a home owner allows the Flying Squirrels to stay in an attic for a long period of time they have been known to chew completely through a 12 inch support beam. They chew holes through screens on porches and in windows. They will store large stashes of nuts in attics which will also attract other pest such as mice and rats. Dormer pockets and ridge vents at the end capes are often damaged from Flying Squirrels chewing holes through to gain entry into the attic.
The Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control technician in the photo above was doing repair work on a home in Columbia, Maryland that was infested with Flying Squirrels. The Flying Squirrels were entering through the drip edge that was originally installed to short which allowed the squirrels to easily squeeze in through the one inch wide gap that ran the entire length of the fascia board.
How do Flying Squirrels get into homes and buildings?
Flying Squirrels enter attics and crawl spaces through pre-existing gaps and openings as well as through half dollar sizes holes they chew through. Both the Southern and Northern version are able to fit through a hole as small as a nickel however most holes they chew through are about the size of a half dollar to a lime. Common entry points are soffit returns on dormers, soffits, ridge vents that are missing the end cap, soffit vents, gable vents, attic fan outlets, abandoned Woodpecker holes in siding, gaps where corrugated metal roofing meets the fascia board, and gaps where the drip edge and fascia board meet.
Flying Squirrels were using this pre-existing entry point to access the area between two floors in this Rockville, Maryland apartment building. The dryer vent cover blow off in a storm and the Flying Squirrels were climbing up the tall trees that are about 10 feet away from this vent and getting in. They built nest in several locations above the bedroom of one apartment. In the photo you can see the rough edges around the vent pipe edge and the exterior entry. These marks were caused by the Flying Squirrels chewing.
What diseases do Flying Squirrels carry?
All mammals are capable of carrying rabies however there is no reported case of a Flying Squirrel with rabies. They are known to carry typhus which is rarely transmitted to a human. Typhus is spread to humans through infected lice that Flying Squirrels commonly carry. Humans that contract typhus will first have flu-like symptoms followed by other more severe complications if left untreated. Typhus can dormant in a humans system and show up years later with severity.
What parasite do Flying Squirrels carry?
Flying Squirrels are known carriers of fleas, lice, mites, and ticks. It is a rare case for the lice to become a problem for humans when Flying Squirrels are nesting in an attic however the fleas often get into the living space of a home especially if the home has dogs or cats.
How long do Flying Squirrels live?
Both the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrel has a life expectancy of around 5 years in the wild and about 10 years in captivity.
What solution should I use for an animal control problem?
The best solution to your animal control problems is to call a professional that deals with Flying Squirrel removal and damage repair. Exterminators and pest control companies usually hire young people straight out of high school that have no knowledge or experience with squirrel control. These companies also deal with bugs in most cases and don’t have any real experience dealing with wildlife or the repair of the damage caused by wildlife.
If you want to get rid of Flying Squirrels from your attic and the damage repair completed by a an expert that is well versed when it comes to Flying Squirrel trapping and damage repair. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control has a team of technicians that souly provides wildlife control and damage repair. Each technician has years of experience, knowledge and skills.
What animals prey on Flying Squirrels?
Because Flying Squirrels are so small many different species prey on them. Raccoons, large snakes and Gray Squirrels have been known to raid their nest and eat their babies. Flying Squirrels are often picked off tree branches by owls and hawks. Other animals that pray on Flying Squirrels include weasels, bobcats, fox, and domestic cats.