Flying squirrels are capable of gliding with the aid of a special organ known as “Patagium”, which is a furry or parachute-like membrane locate in the wrist but stretches from the ankle. The squirrels do have long tails that offer great stability when they fly or glide. Flying squirrels can glide and lift their bodies over 45 feet above a surface , and a record 90 meters of flight has been recorded.
Though flying squirrels are similar in body size , shape and colour , to other species of squirrels but they possess some adaptations that help them adapt to their lifestyles. While their limb bones seem longer than those of other squirrel species, they do possess shorter hand and foot bones. With the aid of their tails and limbs, these squirrel are capable of exerting control on all areas where they jump or glide over. Flying squirrels are normally ready to leave their parents and their nests in as little as 10 weeks.
The mating season for most flying squirrel species are between the months of February and March and when the young infants are born, the adult female squirrel will stay with them in the maternal nests for about 10 weeks where the mother protect and nature them until they are ready to leave. Male adult flying raccoons do not indulge in the raising of young flying squirrels, and at birth, the young infants are almost hairless but they do have whiskers, while most of their sensory organs are absent.
The internal organs of infant flying squirrels are normally visible through the skin, but by the end of the fifth week, the animals would have been fully developed. By the end of their fifth week of survival, most young squirrels would have developed their sensory organs and could be able to respond and adapt to their environment with little or no help from their parents. From the fifth to the tenth week, young flying squirrels do practice gliding, and limping and these skills will become perfected by the end of their first 2-3 months- by this time they are capable of surviving independently.
The life expectancy of a flying squirrel is about 6 years, however, some flying squirrel species have been found to live for more than 15 years when raised in zoos. Due to the prevalence of predators and illnesses, the life expectancy of young squirrels can be very short. Common flying squirrel predators include; Snakes, Raccoons, owls and Coyotes.
Flying squirrels can survive virtually anywhere they can find food such as fruits, seeds, nuts, fungi and even tree sap, however, they are mostly found in tropical and temperate regions. Flying squirrels can also survive in grasslands and sparsely populated areas but are rarely found in the coldest regions( though some species of squirrels can survive in predominantly cold areas). Flying squirrels are also found in rain forest areas where they inhabit wide colonies. There seem to be no country in the world where squirrels do not exist , however, flying squirrels are more selective in where they choose to live.
Most Flying squirrels are nocturnal in nature, therefore they can eat according to what they have in their present environment. Flying squirrels are omnivorous in nature, therefore they can consume a wide range of food. Most flying squirrels will consume foods such as; slugs, snails, insects, shrubs, flowers, seeds, tree sap, and fungi. Though flying squirrels do not eat meat, they however hunt some animals just for game. In addition to consuming predominantly fruits , seeds and nuts, squirrels also prefer to stay close to where they can find drinking water. Flying squirrels may sometimes eat tree branches contain saps of some trees, and when they are extremely hungry, they may consume some insects along with leaves.
Flying squirrels do have a very wonderful sense of smell, and they can forage for food in the evening and night. Flying squirrels can harvest and save fruits, bird eggs, fungi, and nuts during forage period, thus they can survive at extreme weather conditions even when they have few foods stored. The gliding abilities of flying squirrels help them conserve energy, and the special diets they consume also help they master their gliding skills. Gliding also helps flying squirrels reduce time between different patches, thus they are capable of reducing forage times.
Flying squirrels are typically similar in behaviour to other species of squirrels except for their abilities to glide through trees much easier. The mating season is usually during the late springs and fall and the animals do hibernate during the winter seasons. Flying squirrels can bury nuts and seeds in the ground and leave them in the ground for several days and still remember where such foods are buried- this is why they are considered to be some of the smartest animals around. Flying squirrels are also capable of playing dead, to fool their predators.
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