Southern flying squirrel
A small, gliding squirrel from North America.
Meaning of scientific name
Glaucomys': from Greek 'glaukos' meaning 'grey' and 'mys' meaning 'mouse'; 'Volans': from the Latin 'volare' meaning 'flying'.
21-25cm long, including the tail.
A small squirrel with soft greyish fur on the back and white underneath. It has small ears, and large black eyes. The tail is flattened, with greyish fur on the top and fawn underneath. Stretching between the front and hind limbs is a gliding membrane or 'patagium'.
From Canada to Eastern and Central USA, and Northwest Mexico to Honduras.
Forest and woodland.
Acorns, nuts, berries, fruits, seeds, buds, blossoms, insects, birds, nestlings, eggs and occasionally, carrion.
Southern flying squirrels are quite sociable, with 6-7 individuals often found sharing a nest hole, especially in the winter when they share body heat. They are nocturnal, and spend the day in hollow trees or old woodpecker nests. They hop along the ground and up tree trunks and then glide from tree to tree with their patagium outstretched. The average glide is 6-9m, although they can reach 30m. They lose height as they glide, so need to climb up again each time.
The squirrels breed twice a year, in January-February and June-July. After a 40 day gestation period, 2-7 blind, naked young are born into a vegetation-lined nest inside a hollow tree. The young develop fur and open their eyes at 3-4 weeks of age, and are weaned at 6-8 weeks when they start gliding and foraging with the mother. Sexual maturity is reached at one years old.
Not currently threatened.