The southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is a diminutive arboreal rodent that exists all over the North American continent, from Texas and Maine in the United States to Quebec and Ontario in Canada. Further south, southern flying squirrels are also prevalent in Mexico and Central America. Although these tree squirrels can't quite "fly," per se, they are indeed talented gliders.
One of the most noteworthy features of the southern flying squirrel is the flying membrane, the patagium, which is situated in the halfway point between its back and front limbs. This furred extensile membrane is capable of spreading out and therefore permitting gliding. During flying, southern flying squirrels' flat and wide tails function to keep their little bodies' steady and in control. The tails also are handy for altering direction.
The typical southern flying squirrel is around 9 inches in length, according to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. The typical weight is slightly less than 2.5 ounces. The majority of other tree squirrels are significantly bigger than southern flying squirrels.
These wee nocturnal creatures have brownish-gray fur on the upper portions of their bodies. Their stomach areas, however, are either white or off-white. Southern flying squirrels' fur has a soft, thick and smooth texture. The fur on their front feet is usually pale brown, white or gray, while the back feet are usually grayish or brown. In the colder months of the year, their toes turn whitish. Southern flying squirrels have large peepers that are surrounded by dark hair. Their facial edges are gray.
Southern flying squirrels have immense eyes. The size of their eyes may have something to do with their tree gliding habit, for which strong eyesight is an absolutely necessity, especially at night, which is when these rodents generally go about their routine activities.
Although southern flying squirrels tend to be rather silent animals, they are capable of producing an array of different sounds when necessary, including chortling, squeaking, chirping and chattering. One prominent vocalization that they often employ sounds something like "tseet" or "tseep," and is used as an alert notification to fellow squirrels of possible upcoming danger.
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Southern Flying Squirrel
- Animal Diversity Web: Glaucomys Volans
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Southern Flying Squirrel
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Southern Flying Squirrel
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Glaucomys Volans
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries: Southern Flying Squirrel
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