northern flying squirrel

(Glaucomys sabrinus)

Conservation Status
northern flying squirrel
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern flying squirrel is one of just two flying squirrels in North America. It occurs throughout Canada. In the United States it occurs in the east from Maine west to Minnesota and south to North Carolina, and in the west from Washington east to Montana and south to California. It is absent from the Great Plains and the desert southwest. In Minnesota it is restricted to northeastern half of the state south to the northern Metro area. It is found in coniferous and mixed forests, especially near swamps or streams. It is seldom seen because it remains in its nest until deep dusk and is active only at night.

The adult is 10¾ to 13½ in length. The head and body is 5½ to 5 (140 to 144 mm) long, the tail 3½ to 4½ (89 to 114 mm) long. The eyes are large and black. The skull has 22 teeth. The fur on the upper part of the body is dense, glossy, and olive-brown. The fur on the belly is white at the tips, lead gray at the base. A fur-covered, folded layer of loose skin (patagium) extends along each side of the body from the wrist of the foreleg to the ankle of the hind leg. Among mammals, only flying squirrels and bats have this feature. The tail is broad, flat, and rounded at the end. It is the same color as the back at the base and gets darker approaching the tip. The fur on the tail extends outward at the sides creating a horizontal plane.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total length: 10¾ to 13½

Head and body: 5½ to 5 (140 to 144 mm)

Tail: 3½ to 4½ (89 to 114 mm)

 
     
 

Sign

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is a little smaller and weighs much less. The fur on the back is grayer. The fur on the belly is white all the way to the base. The tail is paler below. The tip of the tail is darker.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Coniferous and mixed forests, especially near swamps or streams

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

Northern flying squirrel is active at night. It remains it its nest until deep dusk.

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

4 years

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

It nests in a hole in a large tree.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Mostly fungi and lichens, but also insects, nuts, seeds, fruit, and buds

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

6, 15, 24, 29, 30, 72, 76.

 
  9/7/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common though rarely seen

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placentals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires  
  Clade Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Sciuromorpha (squirrels)  
 

Family

Sciuridae (chipmunks, marmots, squirrels)  
 

Subfamily

Sciurinae (tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and relatives)  
  Tribe Pteromyini (flying squirrels)  
 

Genus

Glaucomys (American flying squirrels, New World flying squirrels)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Alaska coast flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus zaphaeus)

Atnarko flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus reductus)

Bachman flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus murinauralis)

Bangs flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus bangsi)

broad-footed flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus latipes)

California coast flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus stephensi)

Carolina northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus canescens)

Cascade flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuliginosus)

Klamath flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus klamathensis)

Laborador flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus makkovikensis)

Mearns flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus lucifugus)

northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus sabrinus)

Okanagan flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus columbiensis)

Prince of Wales flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus goodwini)

Richardson flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus alpinus)

San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus)

Sierra flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus lascivus)

Virginia flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus)

yellow-bellied flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus flaviventris)

Yukon flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus yukonensis)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Pteromys canadensis

Sciurus hudsonius

Sciurus sabrinus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Hudson Bay flying squirrel

northern flying squirrel

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Patagium

In some mammals, the membrane between the forelimb and the abdomen that assists in flying or gliding. In Lepidoptera, one of a pair of hair-covered, sausage-shaped, dorsal plates on the anterior of the pronotum.

 
 
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Molly and Robert Power

 
 

Made a home in a birdhouse!

 
    northern flying squirrel      
 

Ramona Abrego

 
    northern flying squirrel      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

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slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Northern Flying Squirrel (Sciuridae: Glaucomys sabrinus) Close-up
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Nov 3, 2011

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (03 November 2011).

 
  Northern Flying Squirrel (Sciuridae: Glaucomys sabrinus) Close-up of Tail
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Nov 3, 2011

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (03 November 2011).

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this mammal.

 
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  Molly and Robert Power
8/30/2019

Location: Albany MN

northern flying squirrel

 
  Ramona Abrego

Location: Washington County

northern flying squirrel

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

Binoculars


Created: 9/7/2020

Last Updated:

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