West Virginia Flying Squirrels
The flying squirrel has many distinct qualities that differentiate it from other squirrels. In North America, there are two species of flying squirrels—the Northern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus, and the Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans. The term “flying” is a misnomer in describing one of this animal’s unique means of mobility. (Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.) Flying squirrels can control their “glide” and speed, by direction, angle and destination, and have been reorded to glide as far as the length of a football field.
Biology and Habits
Flying squirrels are extremely small in size compared to other squirrel members, such as the gray and fox squirrels. They have a broad flattened tail, enlarged eyes, and a patagium. The patagium is extended folds of skin from the wrist to ankle that enables it to fly. The flying squirrel has two litters per year, one in early spring, the other in mid-summer. Each litter producing from one to six young. The young are blind, naked and helpless. Flying squirrels usually live in medium (4-10) or large (10-20) communal families with one or two breeding males while the rest are breeding females or immature squirrels.
Flying squirrels are nocturnal and feed mostly on insects, nuts, fruits, seeds and berries. They do not hibernate, but may stay in the nest during bad weather. Known predators of this species include large mammals, owls, and cats. The Northern flying squirrel prefers conifer forests and the Southern flying squirrel prefers deciduous forests. The habitat ranges of these two species vary, but cover most of North America.
Damage and Concerns
Flying squirrels may cause damage when they enter buildings via construction gaps, dormer and louver vents, chimneys, fascia boards and soffits. Their entrance hole is often times the size of a quarter. Squirrels have been responsible for starting fires by chewing on electrical wires. Other damages include accumulated droppings, urine stains, chewing and gnawing on wood, and degradation of insulation.
Outside the home they are known to denude bark on trees and shrubs, dig holes in turf, and raid bird feeders and gardens. There are few health concerns associated with flying squirrels. They are, on rare occasions, carriers of rabies and typhus, but these squirrels pose little, if any, significant threat to humans.
There are various approaches for controlling flying squirrels. Prevention of the flying squirrel entry, or excluding the site, is of extreme importance in solving this situation. Another technique is humanely live-trapping the flying squirrels from the space. Cage trapping flying squirrels can be utilized, using nuts and vegetables. Tree trimming around the building will discourage use by these squirrels, along with other birds and animals. We also recommended installing chimney caps on any uncovered chimney, to prevent unwanted flying squirrel entry.
To successfully manage a flying squirrel population, you must have an integrated pest management plan. Critter Control uses multiple approaches to eradicate and exclude these and other nuisance animals from your home and property.
Call 1-800-CRITTER for your local Critter Control office and all of your flying squirrel removal and control needs.