Winged creatures might be perched on your bird feeder at night -- not birds, but Southern Flying Squirrels. Because the Flying Squirrel is nocturnal, most people never see it. If they did, they’d likely be awed by the creature’s powers of locomotion. The squirrel appears to fly, gliding through the trees with the help of loose flaps of skin on both sides of its body. The membranes, which stretch from the wrist of each front leg to the ankle of each hind leg, act as a parachute. The squirrel travels by leaping from the top of a tree, stretching out its body, then sailing downward to the trunk of another tree. It can maneuver impressively around tree limbs and other obstacles, changing direction by tensing the membranes and using its tail as a rudder.
Southern Flying Squirrels often nest in abandoned woodpecker holes. They are active year-round, and occur throughout North Carolina in mixed forest habitat. If that’s where you live, you might spy these elusive creatures raiding your feeder when night falls.
Southern Flying Squirrel page on eNature.com.
Glaucomys volans, Southern Flying Squirrel - Digital Morphology account of the Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans, featuring CT-generated animations of the skull.
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