Flying Squirrel Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Flying squirrels are the daredevils of the squirrel world. To move from tree to tree they jump into the air and glide with the help of a special membrane that stretches between their front and back legs. Learn about the life of a flying squirrel.

Flying Squirrels Glide Through the Air

Wouldn't it be fun if you had a parachute built into your body? You'd never have to worry about falling because your parachute would allow you to glide safely to the ground. The flying squirrel is lucky because it has a built-in parachute!

A drawing of a flying squirrel in flight
Flying Squirrel

The small rodents have a membrane that runs between their front and back legs. When they want to move from tree to tree they leap in the air and spread their legs to stretch the membrane into a type of wing.

The squirrels don't flap these wings, so they don't actually fly. Instead, they glide by catching the wind, just like a hang glider.

What Do They Look Like?

Flying squirrels grow to be about 8-12 inches tall depending on the species. They only weigh about 4-6 ounces, which is about as much as a medium-sized apple weighs.

They have gray and brown fur on their backs and white bellies. Their tails are long and flat and can be used to help them steer when they're gliding through the air, like a boat rudder.

Flying Squirrel - notice the membrane between its legs and its big eyes
Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrels are nocturnal, which means they are active at night and sleep during much of the day. Their big eyes help them see better at night.

Where Do They Live?

Flying squirrels can be found in many parts of the world, including the United States. They make their homes in the trees of both deciduous forests and coniferous forests. A deciduous forest has trees with leaves that fall off during the cold months, and a coniferous forest has trees with needles, like pine trees.

Flying squirrels like to live with other flying squirrels. You might find a few of the squirrels squeezed together in a small tree hole carved out by a woodpecker or abandoned by another animal.

What Do They Eat?

Flying squirrels aren't too picky when it comes to eating. They are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, slugs, eggs and small birds.

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