Welcome to our website, dear readers. Flying squirrels are amazing creatures. Yes, bats are the only mammals that actually fly, but flying squirrels can fly from tree to tree with the help of a special membrane located between the front and rear limbs.
And today we decided to take a closer look at this amazing animal. In the article, we have collected the most interesting facts about flying squirrels.
These are nocturnal animals. During the day they hide in their shelters, and at night they go hunting. And if you look at their eyes, it immediately becomes clear that they have very good eyesight. The eyes of squirrels are very large, which allows them to “gather more light.” This adaptation to nocturnal life is also characteristic of other animals, such as owls or lemurs.
While studying American flying squirrels (one of the types of flying squirrels), scientists noticed that under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, they glow in a pinkish color. The ability to fluoresce among mammals is extremely rare, so it is not known exactly why these animals need this property. But there is a guess. Scientists believe that the ability to fluoresce may serve as a defense against owls, the main predators of flying squirrels. Owls also fluoresce, so their fluorescence may be a sign of mimicry (imitation), as a result of which owls do not immediately realize that they are in front of potential prey.
Between the front and hind limbs of these animals is a membrane similar to a parachute. This web traps air as the squirrel falls, allowing it to gently glide to its destination instead of falling like a rock. This membrane is called the patagium.
They have an extra “finger”. It is attached to their patagium. When the animal opens its membrane for flight, the extra finger extends and further stretches the patagium. This allows the membrane to take in more air and glide farther and smoother.
They cannot fly, but they can glide for a long time. The average distance they can plan is 20 meters. But if necessary, this distance can be increased to 90-100 meters. That is, this squirrel, if desired, is able to fly the entire football field. Even the largest Giant flying squirrel, reaching a length of 42 cm, can travel such long distances.
This is an amazingly agile animal. Moreover, it feels equally good both on the ground and in the air. While gliding, she uses her limbs as a rudder. Their limbs, combined with a fluffy tail that helps maintain balance, is the perfect control mechanism. Flying squirrels are so agile that they can easily change the direction of their gliding by turning 180 degrees.
These creatures are found on three continents – North America, South America and Eurasia (most often in Asia). Of the 43 known species of flying squirrels, 40 live in Eurasia. It is believed that the dense forests that were there during the ice ages protected these animals from the through wind and predators. That is why almost their entire population is concentrated in this part of the continent.
These are very good parents, they feed their young for 65 days, which is almost unheard of for an animal of such a small size.
Their children are born hairless and helpless. They are uncoordinated and cannot even roll over, let alone take care of themselves.
They build several additional nests. They use them as a backup shelter in the event that the main nest is in danger. If a fire starts or a predator attacks the nest, the mother will pick up her cubs and take them to a reserve nest.
In planning, the landing can be as important as the jump itself. These creatures use their claws to hook onto a tree and climb back up. However, when in contact with a tree, their paws are impacted. To absorb some of the kinetic energy during impact, they use their pads on their feet, which greatly soften the landing.
Most squirrels completely break the entire nut shell, after which the kernel is selected from it. But don’t fly. They make a small hole in the nut, through which they take out the kernel with their claws.
They use a lot of energy as they are constantly climbing trees, jumping, gliding, landing, etc. To maintain the necessary balance of energy in the body, they need to eat regularly. On average, in one season, each individual collects up to 15,000 nuts. Some of these nuts are eaten immediately, and some are stored in the nest or buried throughout the forest, which often leads to germination and the emergence of new trees.
Not much is known about their mating habits, but it has been reliably established that males do not play a big role in raising cubs. Usually females leave males before babies are born. It is believed to be a polygamous species. Males give several litters from different females, and females mate with different males every year.
Like their other characteristics, their size can vary depending on the species. For example, representatives of the so-called pygmy flying squirrels grow up to only 7-9 cm in length, and their tails rarely exceed 6-10 cm.
Larger species can reach 60 cm in length, with their tails another 60 cm.
Although they live in the forests of cold regions such as Canada, Finland and Siberia, they do not hibernate. Instead, they become less active and spend more time in their shelter. But it is worth noting that they still go outside in search of food.
They are also known to cope with the cold by cuddling. That is why squirrels often build their nests next to the nests of other relatives, and when they are very cold, they climb into one shelter and cuddle up to each other to warm themselves. That’s all for us, dear readers. Thank you for paying attention to our Internet resource.