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Wildlife Wednesday: Southern Flying Squirrel

Thursday January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day. So today’s Wildlife Wednesday species is the southern flying squirrel. Despite the name, the southern flying squirrel doesn’t actually fly, but glides from tree to tree using a thin membrane of skin stretching from the wrists to the ankles. This membrane is known is the patagium or more simply called the gliding membrane. The southern flying squirrel has thick and soft greyish brown fur and a cream colored underbelly. They have large eyes in relation to their body size which gives them excellent night vision to forage. These squirrels are opportunistic omnivores and will eat insects, carrion, berries, nuts, eggs, and seeds. Active all year, but more so in summer, these squirrels can sometimes be seen at dusk gliding from tree to tree looking for food. Just like other squirrels they will cache food for the winter in preparation for food shortages. In the colder winter months the squirrels will nest in large groups of up to 20 individuals in an effort to stay warm. They nest in tree cavities, abandoned woodpecker holes, leaf nests, and nest boxes. Although these squirrels are difficult to spot in the wild you can look for them at a few of our Metroparks including Oakwoods, Indian Springs, Kensington, and Hudson Mills. Look for a small diamond shape gliding between the trees!

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