Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services, LLC
Telephone: (804) 457-2883
Flying Squirrels - Richmond & Charlottesville
Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services provides nuisance flying squirrel trapping,
flying squirrel removal, flying squirrel control, flying squirrel exclusion and flying squirrel
damage repairs to individuals, businesses, and municipalities throughout Central and Eastern
Virginia. Some of our service areas in Virginia include: Goochland County, Louisa County,
Fluvanna County, Orange County, Powhatan County, Albemarle County, Henrico County, Hanover
County, Mineral, Gordonsville, Keswick, Lake Anna, Hadensville, Ferncliff, Boyd Tavern, Shannon
Hill, Gum Spring, Troy, Palmyra, Ashland, Mechanicsville, Oilville, Sandy Hook, Glen Allen,
Maidens, Rockville, Manakin, Earlysville, Charlottesville, and Richmond.
Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services has the knowledge and experience to resolve
your nuisance flying squirrel problem quickly and humanely. Call us today.
Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) are found in southeastern Canada, the eastern United
States, and south as far as Mexico and Honduras.
Southern flying squirrels are found in woodlands. They seem to prefer seed-producing hardwoods,
particularly maple, beech, hickory, oak, and poplar. They are also found in mixed conifer/deciduous
Flying squirrels are easily distinguished by the "gliding membrane", a flap of loose skin that extends
from wrist to ankle. The loose skin along the side of the body is supported by cartilaginous spurs on
the wrists and ankles. The soft fur on the back and tail is grey with varying amounts of grey tinge;
the belly is white. The tail is dorso-ventrally flattened. The eyes are very large, probably related to
the nocturnal habits and the visual requirements of gliding. Total length is 21.1 to 25.7 cm and tail
length is 7.9 to 12 cm.
Breeding interval - Southern flying squirrels breed twice each year.
Breeding season - Breeding occurs from January to April and from June to August.
Number of offspring - 1 to 6; avg. 2.50
Gestation period - 40 days (average)
Time to independence - 120 days (average)
Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female) - 9 months (low); avg. 12 months
Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male) - 12 months (average)
Little is known about the mating system in southern flying squirrels. Males and females do not
associate much beyond breeding.
Females are polyestrous and typically mate twice per year. Births thus have two peaks, from
February to May and from July to September. There is, however, some geographic variation in the
timing of births. The gestation period is 40 days. Litters can range from one to six young, though
two or three is most common. The young are weaned at 65 days (an unusually long time for an
animal this small) and are independent at 120 days. Maturity is usually attained at twelve months,
though ages as young as nine months have been reported.
Young flying squirrels are born naked and helpless in their mother's nest. Their ears open at 2 to 6
days old, they develop some fur by 7 days old, and their eyes open by their 24th or 30th day of life.
Females care for their young in the nest and nurse them for 65 days, which is an unusually long
time for an animal of this size. The young become independent by 4 months old unless they are
born later in the summer, in which case they usually overwinter as a family.
Extreme lifespan (captivity) - 10 years (high)
Typical lifespan (wild) - 5 - 6 years
Average lifespan (captivity) - 12 years
Southern flying squirrels in the wild can live to 5 or 6 years old. In captivity they have been known to
live up to 10 years. Most flying squirrels probably die in their first year of life.
Activity is primarily nocturnal. Flying squirrels are often seen in pairs, and can be gregarious. During
winter, groups of 10 to 20 individuals are sometimes found in dens in hollow trees. Females have
been reported to be territorial and to defend nest sites during the mating season. Flying squirrels
live in hollow trees, deserted woodpecker holes, and in buildings and bird boxes. Nests are made
of soft materials like shredded bark, dry leaves, moss, feathers and fur.
Flying squirrels are not true fliers but gliders. They leap from high vantages and spread the arms
and legs, stretching the loose skin of the body into an efficient sail. As they approach a landing,
they raise the tail to change the course of the glide upwards and extend the limbs to use the skin as
a parachute. Upon landing, they quickly move to the other side of the tree to avoid predators that
may have detected and followed them during the glide. They are agile in the air, avoiding obstacles
like trees and even making 90 turns. From a height of 18 meters they can glide about 50 meters;
maximum glide is about 80 meters.
Home ranges in both sexes range in size from about .5 to about 1.5 hectares. Male ranges overlap;
female ranges do not overlap with each other or those of males.
Communication and Perception
Southern flying squirrels have very large eyes in order to see well in low light. They have keen
senses of smell, touch, vision, and hearing. They probably communicate about reproductive
condition through chemical cues. Vibrissae on the cheeks, chin, and ankles help them in navigating
at night. They are relatively quiet but may use some vocalizations in social communication.
Southern flying squirrels are omnivores and eat a wide range of foods, including nuts, acorns,
seeds, berries, fruit, moths, junebugs, leaf buds, bark, eggs and young birds, young mice, insects,
carrion, and fungus. They are especially fond of hickory nuts and acorns; one sure sign of the
presence of this species is piles of gnawed hickory nuts at the base of large hickory trees. They will
store food for winter use.
Flying squirrels avoid predators by being nocturnal and by being fast and agile in the trees and
during their glides. They are alert for predators constantly. The most successful predators on flying
squirrels are able to fly, such as hawks and owls, or can climb well, such as domestic cats, bobcats,
weasels, raccoons, and climbing snakes.
Flying squirrels consume large numbers of the fruiting bodies of subterranean fungi, dispersing the
spores in their feces. The mycelia of these fungi form close associations with the roots of many
species of trees and are believed to be essential for tree growth and maintenance. They also
disperse the seeds of hardwood trees.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Flying squirrels are sometimes pests when they make nests in houses.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Flying squirrels play important ecosystem roles in hardwood forests. They are also sometimes kept
Exposure to Southern Flying Squirrels has been linked to cases of epidemic typhus in humans.
Typhus spread by flying squirrels is known as "sylvatic typhus" and the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention has documented a total of 39 such cases in the U.S. from 1976 to 2001. The
squirrel acts as host to the Rickettsia prowazekii bacteria and transmission to humans is believed to
occur via lice or fleas.
Southern flying squirrels are often the most common squirrel in hardwood woodlands and suburban
areas. Because they are nocturnal and seldom seen, most people don't recognize that they live with
Source: Fox, D. and M. Mulheisen. 1999. "Glaucomys volans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 23, 2011
Designed by E & W Web Design