Chipmunks, rodents and Boise squirrels are all part of mammal family. Bats are the only mammals which truly fly but there is one breed of squirrels (around 50 species) which is known as flying squirrels. If you think these squirrels can fly like any other bird, then let us clarify this for you! These squirrels can glide which means they can sail from one tree to other. They have cape like wings and if you see them gliding in moonlight then they can seem like ghosts. These squirrels are nocturnal and omnivores so along with fruits, flowers and nuts they also feed on spiders, fungi and eggs of birds. This post is to talk about biology of flying squirrels including their life cycle, habitat, appearance and other factors.
Appearance of Flying Squirrels
By now you must be excited to know how these Idaho squirrels look! They are around 12 inch in length including the tail and weight varies between 4 and 6.5 ounces. Their tail is flat and large like normal squirrels. The fur on their back and side is coloured light brown and grey and turns white on belly. These squirrels have big round eyes for better night vision like owls. While sitting they just look like normal cute squirrels with coloured stripes on the fur. Their wings which help them in gliding are stretched between wrists and ankles and when they are open they look like parachute. At the maximum, they can fly up to 300 feet but only if necessary as generally they prefer to travel shorter distances. Like other squirrels they can climb the tree in a very fast pace and have soft and thick cushion paws which help them in landing and climbing trees.
Life cycle of Idaho flying squirrels
Flying squirrels give birth in spring or summer season. The gestation period is around is weeks and one squirrel can give birth from two to six babies. These baby squirrels take about five weeks to practice gliding skills and are known to live for four to five years.
Habitat of flying squirrels
Boise flying squirrels are only found in high elevation hardwood forests. They are spotted in Virginia forests but due to mining, logging, deforestation, there have been major habitat loss for these squirrels. They generally make their nests on black cherry trees, sugar maple, black birch and yellow birch trees as these are tall and found in forests which are old. These squirrels don’t migrate unlike birds and other species as coping with climate change of the new place is the most challenging task for them. once they get used to climate of one place they don’t migrate every few months rather store their food for the tough days.
They like to den in the trees or hardwood areas where they can find nuts and trees form a canopy which allows them to sail through various trees without touching ground.
Diet of Flying Squirrels
Generally, Idaho squirrels are dependent upon seeds, fruits and nuts as primary food resources but flying squirrels are omnivores and can consume insects, fungi and lichens also. Their gliding skills helps them in trapping insects and worms.
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