Flying Squirrel


Flying Squirrel is often associated with the image of spreading its arms and legs and flying. Recently, it has become popular as a pet.
Some people may imagine “Sugar Glider” when they hear the name Flying Squirrel. However, Flying Squirrel and Sugar Glider are not related but different species of animals.
The Flying Squirrel is close to squirrels, while the Sugar Glider is close to kangaroos. They look similar, so it’s easy to misunderstand.
Let’s take a closer look at what kind of animal Flying Squirrel is!



~ Basic information. ~

Mammalia-Rodentia-Sciuridae-Sciurinae-Flying Squirrel genus.

Southern Flying Squirrel. Length : about 13-15㎝, weight : about 45-113g, tail : about 8-12㎝.

Flying Squirrels are divided into various types depending on the species, and their habitats are also widely divided.
The Southern Flying Squirrel is distributed in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The Russian Flying Squirrel is distributed in Russia, Syria, and eastern Asia.
The ones that inhabit Japan are “Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel” and “Eurasian Flying Squirrel”.

They live in forested areas and use tree holes or holes made by woodpeckers as their homes.
Some Flying Squirrels live alone, while others live with their families.
Flying Squirrels are nocturnal, so they spend the day in tree holes and become active at night.

The breeding season of Flying Squirrels is from May to July.
After mating, the gestation period is about 30 days before giving birth.
They usually give birth to 2-3 offspring per pregnancy, but sometimes up to 5.
Flying Squirrels give birth and raise their young in their homes such as tree holes.
Therefore, it is difficult to observe them closely and there are still some parts that are not well understood.

Cute and popular pet.

When keeping rare animals as pets, it is necessary to follow the laws established by each country.
In this case, we will introduce whether it is possible to keep Flying Squirrels at home in Japan.

They have big round eyes and are so cute that they look like stuffed animals.
They look like squirrels when they hold food in both hands.
They are a healing presence just by looking at them.

The only Flying Squirrel that can be kept as a pet is the “Southern Flying Squirrel”.
However, since 2005, imports have been restricted due to an infectious disease called “leptospirosis”.
This infection is caused by rodents and can infect not only animals but also humans.
Therefore, rodents are now subject to import restrictions.
Southern Flying Squirrels are also included, making them difficult to obtain as pets.

Nevertheless, some people may still want to keep Southern Flying Squirrels as pets.
For those people, we will introduce how to keep Flying Squirrels.


What should I feed them?

Let’s give them four types of food in a balanced way.

1)Food for squirrels.
There is also food specifically for Southern Flying Squirrels, but it is not widely available.
Therefore, let’s give them food for squirrels.

Chinese cabbage, komatsuna, cabbage, carrots, etc.

Apples, strawberries, ripe bananas, blueberries, etc.

4)Animal protein.
Mealworms, crickets, yogurt, eggs, etc.

Instead of giving them the same food every time, try different combinations.
It’s good to know the preferences of the Flying Squirrel you are keeping.

About the breeding environment.

・Cage for keeping.
Flying Squirrels are active at night, so choose a tall and wide cage.
If the cage is small, it will not get enough exercise and will cause stress.

・Corner stage.
It is used to move around the cage, as well as for eating and resting.
It is recommended to prepare multiple corner stages with steps.

・Nest box or pouch.
Flying Squirrels need a safe place to sleep during the day.
They tend to dirty the inside of the nest box or pouch with their feces, so prepare several and clean them regularly.

・Food dish.
Ceramic or stainless steel containers are less likely to be damaged and are easy to clean.

・Water bottle.
Prepare a water bottle that is easy to refill so that fresh water can be drunk.

・Pet sheet.
Flying Squirrels cannot be toilet trained, so use a pet sheet.
As you keep them, you will learn where they go to the bathroom.

Check the temperature and manage it so that Flying Squirrels can live comfortably.

There are 5 things to keep in mind when breeding!

1)Be careful with the water around you.
Flying squirrels can drown even in a little water and die.
Also, it is difficult to dry their fur when it gets wet.
When taking your flying squirrel for a walk around the room, be careful not to take your eyes off them.

2)Make sure to manage the temperature well.
The appropriate temperature for a flying squirrel is around 22-28℃.
It is not good for them to be too hot or too cold, so keep the temperature appropriate.

3)Be careful not to let them escape.
Flying squirrels are intelligent and skillful animals.
They may learn how to open their cages, so take measures such as attaching a carabiner to prevent them from opening it.

4)Keep in mind that flying squirrels have different lifestyles than humans because they are nocturnal animals.
They sleep during the day, so do not touch them during that time as it can cause stress.
If you want to play with your flying squirrel, touch them at night according to their lifestyle.

5)Find an exotic animal hospital in advance.
Only an exotic animal hospital can examine flying squirrels.
There are fewer of these hospitals than general animal hospitals for dogs and cats, so be sure to research before starting to raise a flying squirrel.



Flying Squirrel’s Q&A.

What is the origin of the name Flying Squirrel?

In English, it is called “Flying Squirrel,” but in Japanese, it is called “momonga.”

The reason for this is that momonga is an animal that has existed in Japan since ancient times.
During the Heian period, momonga and musasabi (Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel) were recognized as the same creature and were collectively called “momi” or “musasabi.”

The word “momi” is written in kanji as “momi” because of its beautiful fur.

Over time, the name changed from “momi” to “momo,” then to “momongua” by adding the sound of its cry, “gua.”
After repeating sound changes, it became the current name “momonga.”

So the name momonga was created by combining its beautiful fur and cry.


Why does Flying Squirrel live there?

Flying squirrels live in forested areas.
The reason they live in forests is that they can secure their habitat and food.

Many of the flying squirrel’s habitats use tree holes or reuse holes made by woodpeckers.
They spend most of their day in their habitat until their night activity time.
The habitat is an essential place for flying squirrels.

The trees around their habitat are also a feeding ground for flying squirrels.
There are many things that can be eaten, such as fruits, flowers, and bark.
For wild flying squirrels, forested areas are essential places to live.


What does Flying Squirrel eat?

Because flying squirrels are omnivorous, they can eat a wide variety of foods.
Wild flying squirrels eat nuts, fruits, flowers, bark, and insects.
They tend to eat what is near their habitat.


Why does Flying Squirrel fly?

The reason flying squirrels fly when moving is to get food faster than other flying squirrels.
Getting food is essential for survival.
Other flying squirrels may be nearby, so when you find food, you must secure it quickly so that it is not taken away.
The method of “flying” was chosen to obtain food.


How does Flying Squirrel fly?

Flying squirrels are said to be able to fly, but they are not flying on their own like birds.
They are actually “gliding.”
Gliding is a way of jumping down gradually from a high place.
To give an example of something familiar, it is like the way a paper airplane flies.

Flying squirrels have a membrane called “patagium” between their hands and feet.
When flying, they spread their arms and legs to stretch the patagium and adjust the wind to fly to their destination.


How long can a Flying Squirrel fly?

Flying squirrels can fly for tens of meters.
According to records, they have flown up to about 100 meters.
Depending on the height of the tree they start flying from and the strength of the wind, they can fly quite far.


Is it true that Flying Squirrel makes hair glow due to ultraviolet rays?

When ultraviolet rays are applied to flying squirrels in the dark, their stomachs glow bright pink.
This phenomenon is called “bioluminescence.”
Bioluminescence is a property in which fur absorbs light of a certain wavelength, such as ultraviolet rays, and emits it in a different color.
Flying squirrels were emitting light by changing to pink.

Are flying squirrels the only ones that emit bioluminescence?
In fact, it has been found that platypus, sea turtle shells, fungi, and others also emit light.
The colors are not just pink but also green, red, orange, blue, and other colors.

Why do they emit light?
The reason has not yet been elucidated.

There are hypotheses that they use it for camouflage or communication with their peers.
It may be clarified in the future.


How long does Flying Squirrel last?

The average lifespan of a flying squirrel is said to be about 5-10 years.
Wild flying squirrels are shorter-lived than those kept in captivity because they are at risk of being targeted by predators.
Flying squirrels kept in an environment that is suitable for them may live for more than 10 years.




Type of Flying Squirrel.

・Groove-toothed flying squirrel.

・Black flying squirrel.
・Thomas’s flying squirrel.

・Hairy-footed flying squirrel.

・Namdapha flying squirrel.

・Western woolly flying squirrel.

・Southern flying squirrel.
・New World Flying Squirrel.

・Red and white giant flying squirrel.
・Spotted giant flying squirrel.
・Hodgson’s giant flying squirrel.
・Japanese giant flying squirrel.
・Red giant flying squirrel.
・Bhutan Giant Flying Squirrel.
・Indian Giant Flying Squirrel.
・Chinese Giant Flying Squirrel.

・Siberian flying squirrel.
・Ezo flying squirrel.
・Japanese dwarf flying squirrel.
・Pteromys wulungshanensis.

・Javanese flying squirrel.

・Particolored flying squirrel.
・Afghan flying squirrel.
・Bartel’s flying squirrel.
・Hainan flying squirrel.
・Kashmir flying squirrel.
・Arrow flying squirrel.
・Hylopetes mindanensis.
・Palawan flying squirrel.
・Indochinese flying squirrel.
・Jentink’s flying squirrel.

・Basilan flying squirrel.
・Travancore flying squirrel.
・Whiskered flying squirrel.
・Hagen’s flying squirrel.
・Arrow flying squirrel.
・Temminck’s flying squirrel.
・Vordermann’s flying squirrel.

・Complex-toothed flying squirrel.

・Smoky flying squirrel.

・Hose’s pygmy flying squirrel.
・Selangor pygmy flying squirrel.


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