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The Northern Flying Squirrel

The Basics


The Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern flying squirrel

Photo © Flickr user Mark F. Levisay

The Northern flying squirrel is native to the United States. They are typically available with the appropriate licensure from state wildlife divisions if they are native to your state.

How Big Do They Get?

The Northern flying squirrel is larger than the Southern flying squirrel, but they still don’t exceed the size of a large hamster. Weighing in anywhere between 100 and over 200 grams, these squirrels are entertaining little rodents.

How Do They Fly?

Northern flying squirrels don’t fly using wings. They glide from tree to tree by spreading their legs and letting the skin folds between their front and back legs catch a breeze. This patagium acts like a parachute and allows the flying squirrel to glide over 100 ft.

What Do They Eat?

Like many rodents, flying squirrels eat a variety of foods. Nuts, seeds, parrot biscuits, fruits, vegetables, mealworms, lichens, fungi, and other treats are given together along with the extremely important calcium supplement to create a complete diet for a squirrel. Many owners feed a base diet of a parrot seed mixture which has different sunflower seeds, pellets, pumpkin seeds and other sources of protein. An assortment of fruits and vegetables in moderation, healthy cereals, and parrot or monkey biscuits rounds out the nutritional requirements of a squirrel with the calcium addition. Brisky Pet Products also makes a nice formulated diet.

A fun thing to watch is your flying squirrel opening a large, hard nut like a hickory nut shell. They open them in a unique way that leaves no jagged edges and only one round opening!

What to Look for in a Cage

Whatever enclosure is chosen, it must have very small spaces between the bars or mesh to prevent escapes or other accidents. I cannot stress this enough. A flying squirrel that has bonded with its owner will try to get to them at all costs, even while you are sleeping. Owners have woken to their squirrel sleeping at their feet or on their pillows that have cages with bars spaced too widely. Some squirrels may try to then return to their cage and are only able to get part of their body back in. This has led to fatal outcomes for the poor little flying squirrels.

Enclosure Examples

Large screen enclosures are good for flying squirrels. They are made of a fine mesh and zip open and closed. My only concern would be for them to chew through the mesh if it is not made of a strong enough material..

Large, tall bird cages are often used and are the best choice for Northern flying squirrels. Metal is much more difficult for a rodent to chew through, and metal cages are available with different bar spacing sizes. Some owners will revise a store bought cage with wider bar spacing by adding chicken wire mesh to all surfaces of the cage. This works well and is usually less expensive than purchasing a cage with smaller bar spacing but it is time consuming and care must be taken to avoid any sharp edges and missed surfaces. Vertical height is more important than horizontal in cages as flying squirrels enjoying going as high as they can.

More on Northern Flying Squirrels

Northern flying squirrels are high-energy, nocturnal rodents who love to climb and glide. They require a lot of space and like many other rodents, many hard things to chew on. They are entertaining to watch and have fun personalities.

Bringing Home a Baby

Most flying squirrels are sent home as babies with their new owners. They are bottle-fed for a few weeks to encourage bonding with their new parent. Fabric pouches are worn around flying squirrel owners necks inside their shirts with the new squirrels inside to allow the squirrel to recognize the owners scent. With the bottle-feeding, neck pouches, and the owners t-shirt kept in the squirrels cage, a strong bond is made with a baby Northern flying squirrel.

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