Southern Flying Squirrel

Category:

Actual Size: 8–10”, including tail

Characteristics: Gray brown fur all over except for a white or cream-colored belly. Large dark eyes and a flattened tail. Most known for the furry membrane called a patagium that enables them to glide through the air.

Habits: 

  • Unlike their name, southern flying squirrels do not actually fly long distances, but glide.
  • These are nocturnal creatures that feed on nuts and fruit from trees.
  • This is one of three flying squirrel species found in North America.

Southern Flying Squirrels in Eastern Tennessee

Southern flying squirrels are found in deciduous and mixed woods parts of the country in North America. They are of course most known for their ability to glide. Between their front and rear legs, they have a furry membrane called a patagium that enables them to glide through the air, often from one tree to another. Southern flying squirrels store food, including acorns, for wintertime. They are very social animals that are often observed in large groups.

Southern Flying Squirrel Habitat

The southern flying squirrel is found mostly in the eastern region, in deciduous or mixed forests. They are most often found in larger hickory and beech trees, as well as maple, poplar, and oak trees. They are rarely found in suburban areas unless there are heavily wooded areas. These squirrels have a wide home range, which is larger in males than females. The southern Flying squirrel will often nest in natural cavities and woodpecker holes. They also build nests out of leaves and twigs, primarily in the summer.

Southern Flying Squirrel Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

As mentioned earlier, the southern flying squirrel is very social. They often congregate together for foraging, flying, and during the winter to save energy. When gliding, the squirrels will form an X-shape with their limbs by spreading their arms and legs out and glide downwards. They are great at maneuvering and can even make turns if needed. Although they are graceful gliders, they are clumsy walkers!

There is one threat of southern flying squirrels: they have been linked to cases of epidemic typhus in humans. This squirrel can host bacteria that, when transmitted to humans, can be dangerous. Although rare, it’s important to stay aware.

Southern Flying Squirrel Prevention

To prevent a southern flying squirrel infestation, seal all possible entry points around the house, including small openings and cracks around doors and windows. Screen vents and openings to chimneys and keep food in airtight containers. Keep tight-fitting lids on trash bins and cut tree limbs back 6 to 8 feet from the roofline. Thoroughly inspect wires, insulation, and walls for gnaw marks which signal a possible infestation.