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  • Jackson Educational Article of the Month - About flying squirrels

About flying squirrels

About flying squirrels

There is actually no such thing as a Mississippi flying squirrel in the true sense of the word flying, flying squirrels are actually gliders, they have a flap of skin that stretches between the front legs and the back legs down the side of the animal, they jump off a tree from high up, open the flaps and controlling the airflow by moving their legs they glide to the target tree or branch. Jackson flying squirrels are mostly nocturnal and omnivorous. Their diet mainly consists of fruit, seeds, flowers, buds, fungi and birds eggs. They also been seen to eat some insects and some spiders. The young are born naked and helpless, they are cared for exclusively by their mother until they are around five weeks old when they first start practicing their gliding skills, by 10 weeks old they are ready to leave the nest.

Wild Mississippi flying squirrels can live up to six years but once kept in zoos have lived up to 15 years. The mortality rate of baby squirrels is up to 70% due to being preyed upon and disease. The major predators of flying squirrels, both adults and young, are tree snakes, owls, Jackson raccoons and feral cats. Flying squirrels seem to have a defense for every predator except owls, being nocturnal the squirrels have little to fear in daytime because they are well hidden in their nests but at night when they come out to forage they seem to be able to detect all predators except the ariel ones.

Mississippi flying squirrels generally mate during February and March with the mother squirrel nurturing and caring for the young in a maternal nest site, the males take no part in nurturing their offspring. Flying squirrels have mostly good senses but their sense of smell is highly developed. There are two main species of flying squirrel in North America and they are generally called the Northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel. They are quite easy to tell apart because the northern flying squirrel is about 10% bigger than its southern cousin being about 12 inches long. Southern flying squirrels are also considered to be the most carnivorous squirrel because they will attack and kill birds and they have also been seen eating carrion.

Because Mississippi flying squirrels have the ability to glide from tree to tree their natural Jackson habitat of course is the forest but thanks to humans taking a lot of the forests away a lot of these squirrels are now gliding from house to house instead.

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