Nutty as a Night Squirrel: The Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrels of the night are really beautiful creatures. Seeing one in the daytime is possible, they do move around during the day but it at night when they come out to play, forage, mate and do what they do best, just be squirrels.

Flying Squirrels are really neat animals of the dark forests, leaping and gliding from branch to branch, tree to tree. They are just so doggone cute!

I have seen these in the daytime. They are however, nocturnal creatures. Just look at those big, beautiful eyes of COURSE they are a creature of the night!

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While the term “flying” is misleading, they do actually glide quite well despite being incapable of true flight. These nocturnal squirrels have a feral lifespan of about six years, but in captivity they are known to live for closer to 10 to 15 years. This is because of the absence of attrition in the wild; being captive, they do not become prey to other creatures such as arboreal snakes (like the Puff Adder, etc,) raccoons, coyotes, and even Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis) are known to prey upon these flying squirrels.

Squirrel of a Different Color

Oh how I love though unusual pets, eh?

(My pet Red Squirrel “Kookla”. Super-enlarged image, of and by author)

I used to have a red squirrel that I raised from a ‘pinkie’, discovered in a washed-out nest in an old cow barn. One of three found in this nest on the ground, this thumb-sized naked pinkie was at first thought to be a barn rat, but as it grew it sprouted red fur and it was a red squirrel. I named him “Kookla”, the Russian word for “Clown” or more literally “Hand puppet.”

I kept Kookla as a domestic pet for years. Quite tame, I could take him out of the cage I had built, handle him, and let him run loose in my apartment. Supervised, of course. He’d come when called and jump up into my hand! But over time as the squirrel aged and became slower and less active, the fur turned gray-white. I have never seen a RED squirrel turn so ‘gray’ before! I figured that in the wild, they would be preyed-upon long before becoming so old and venerable. The red squirrel lived for about 7 years. I have to admit complete ignorance of the fact that people have been keeping flying squirrels as pets. Flying Squirrels do, now that I think of it, bear a striking resemblance to what is known as “Sugar Gliders”, often sold in pet stores. I have read that these squirrels have been kept as pets since the colonial era in the U.S.

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7 Responses to “Nutty as a Night Squirrel: The Flying Squirrels”
  1. Glynis Smy Says...

    On November 23, 2008 at 5:40 am

    How wonderful, I have never seen one and the eyes are so wide. I admire you saving the life of the ‘pinkie’.

  2. joystick7 Says...

    On November 23, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    nice post!

  3. lilymom Says...

    On November 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Just wanted say that I love the squirrel’s eyes. They are so big and so cute.

  4. mariah grant Says...

    On April 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    hi people fact mariah is cool with a smille face

  5. lala Says...

    On May 17, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    the flying sqirrels are soooooooooooooooooooooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Deborah Says...

    On July 11, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I have just inherited 5 wonderful little guys. I have often taken care of anything that crawls out of the woods, swamps, and skies, but I am perplexed on what to do about parasite control for my little girls. I am afraid to handle them until they are cleared. I will of course take them to the vet, , but until then all I am doing is keeping their cage very clean. Any help out there? I am afraid of putting any flea stuff on them because they are so small. Help!!

  7. catlord Says...

    On July 11, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    A natural flea repellent is CEDAR wood chips, available in any pet store/Wal-Mart pet department. However, CEDAR is toxic to chinchillas and I an not sure if safe for squirrels although I would expect that it is okay. Hamsters, mice, etc are okay with cedar chips for bedding.
    For bedding, fill a fuzzy ‘pillow’ with cedar chips. The odor repels fleas, ticks, etc.

    As for parasite treatment, -are these babies still ‘pinkies’? If so, it is highly unlikely that they would have pinworms, which is transmitted by ingestion/nibbling of infected solids (taste-testing the fecal spoors of a conspecific that is currently infected.) This is how ‘baby mice’ become infected in pet stores. Born free of PINWORMS but as ‘jumpers’ (beginning to get hair, and starting to roam from the nest, they are called “jumpers” or “hairy mice”) they taste-test fecal spoors, etc. and ingest either live pin-worms AND/OR pin-worm eggs, thus beginning a lifelong infestation (unless treated.) Generally, the infestation is ‘balanced’ and they show no outward sign of being infested. It when they become ill and the pinworm infestation runs rampant does it manifest itself as ‘dangerous’ to the animal.
    “PANACURE” is a common treatment, very safe (even if administered when not needed or over-dosed) and can be bought in most pet-stores, some agricultural “feed stores” (for cows, horses, goats, etc.) carry it too. Inexpensive, often comes in a plastic syringe-like dispenser, you squeeze the paste onto something the animal will eat. Treat once daily for several days, based upon weight. Effectively rids PINWORMS. Toothpaste-sized tube costs around $10.00-15.00 maybe.. Cheap.

    If the babies have coccidia, treatment with Flagly is in order. This is more rare, but occurs. You MIGHT be able to find “Flagyl” in an over-the-counter preparation, but generally it comes from a animal vet on prescription. I know you can buy it online however. A quarter-ounce tube (enough to treat several animals of the hamster-sized variety) cost under $20.00. Expensive for what you get, but a SMALL dose is all you need anyway.

    If your pet is diagnosed with Coccidia, you MUST sanitize the cage (fishtank, toys, food-dishes, whatever) EFFECTIVELY. Soaking in chlorinated water is probably not effective. AMMONIA is better, ten-fold! Common sudsy ammonia ‘floorwax stripper’ (available in any grocery store cleaning aisle) does the trick!

    I hope you do well with your squirrelies.

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