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Flying Squirrels

Classification: Rodent
Color: Grayish brown back, cream belly
Size: 9-10 inches, 2-4 ounces
Distinguishing characteristic: Patagium—white fold of fur they use for gliding.Eats: Nuts, acorns, seeds, lichen, fungi, young mice, carrion, eggs, insects

Predators: Hawks, owls, house cats, bobcats, weasels, raccoons, climbing snakes.
Interesting fact: Southern flying squirrels can cover more than 150 feet in a single glide.

Finding Flying Squirrels in Maryland

Although there is a population of flying squirrels in Maryland, many people have never seen one. Unlike the gray squirrel, which is active during the day and travels both by tree and by ground, the southern flying squirrel sticks mainly to treetops and does its foraging for food at night.

Southern flying squirrels have several physical features that distinguish them from gray squirrels:

  • They are smaller, measuring only 9 to 10 inches.
  • They weigh only 2 to 4 ounces.
  • Their fur is grayish brown on the back and they have a white or cream belly.
  • Their large eyes are ringed in black.
  • They have a flattened tail.

The most unique physical characteristic of the flying squirrel is the patagium—a white fold of fur extending on either side from the wrist of the front leg to the ankle of the back leg. When they extend their limbs in an X shape, the patagium helps them glide.

Clumsy Walkers

Flying squirrels in Maryland don’t move very easily on the ground, but they are excellent gliders. They use their tail to brake and to navigate, and can even make 90 degree turns to move around trees. Once they land on a tree branch, they don’t remain in the same place for long. Instead, they move around the tree to get out of the way of predators who might have tracked their flight.

They have outstanding night vision, which helps them find their way through the treetops in Maryland. Flying squirrels make their nest in tree cavities in pine and hardwoods such as oaks, hickories and walnuts. They prefer more densely wooded areas like forests and aren’t frequently seen in the suburbs.

Flying squirrels are omnivores, although their preferred foods are nuts, acorns and seeds. They also eat lichen, fungi, young mice, and occasionally birds’ eggs and insects.

Winter Intruders

There are two mating periods a year in Maryland for flying squirrels, late winter and early-to-mid summer. There are 3 to 4 young in each litter, and they remain with the mother for about two months. The squirrels live about 5 years in the wild, and have been known to live twice that long in captivity.

Flying squirrels may seek out winter shelter in attics, where they like to live in groups that can chew wood and wires and create an unpleasant odor.

To Eliminate Flying Squirrels from Your Property:

  • Seal off most places where they could get into the attic
  • Try traps at one or two exits so that you can capture them as they try to depart

Since flying squirrels are small, they are good at hiding and it can be tough to capture them all. To move these tree gliders out of your home—and to make sure that they stay out—call Brody Brothers at 443-379-8857 for professional help.


Are other wildlife critters visiting your home or business? Check out our Wildlife Pest Control page to see other animals we can safely remove from your property.

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