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Wildlife Control Supplies Blog

All About Flying Squirrels

Life History and Control Methods of the Southern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and Northern (Glacucomys volans) Flying Squirrels

Trapping flying squirrels is a relatively easy affair as they do not seem to be afraid of new things and are easily attracted to the scent of lures and baits. Rat size snap traps and a good bait like WCS™ NB, WCS™ Fruit and Nut, or ACP Rednecks Pride Gotter Dun are very efficient...

by Wildlife Control Supplies • December 19, 2023

Flying Squirrels

These small nocturnal squirrels are the gliding superhero of the squirrel world. Obviously flying squirrels don’t really fly - they glide by launching themselves from an elevated location. They can travel a distance of 150’ in one leap and can change direction mid-flight. Their flattened tail is used like a brake once they arrive at their desired destination. Both species have grey-brown dorsal fur with a whitish belly, but the southern flying squirrel has much whiter stomach fur. The southern is also smaller than its northern cousin. The southern flying squirrel is found throughout much of the Eastern U.S from Florida to Maine, and west from Texas to Minnesota. The northern flying squirrel is mainly found in the Northeast, along the West coast, and into Montana and Idaho.

Flying squirrels are very social except when the female is rearing her young. Northern flying squirrels only give birth to one litter a year, while southern flying squirrels give birth to two litters a year. Both average 2-6 young per litter. Young are born March-April and southern flying squirrels will give birth to a second litter June-July. Females will not tolerate any other adults near the maternal nest. Flying squirrels prefer a mixed hardwood-pine forest and require larger mature trees. They are omnivorous eating seeds, fruits, fungi, insects, small birds and eggs, and carrion. They are considered the most carnivorous of squirrels. Flying squirrels frequently forage on the ground, even beneath the snow. Food is cached for winter months and during very cold weather southern flying squirrels will go into a state of torpor. During winter months flying squirrels will form large colonies with over 50 individuals being reported in some instances. During warmer months these colonies will decrease in size down to an average of 5 adults.

Flying squirrels are a host for mites, lice, fleas, and numerous nematodes. Southern flying squirrels have been associated with several cases of Sylvatic Epidemic Typhus Fever. They are the only animals known to carry this bacterium in the United States. Out of 39 human cases, 13 had come into contact with either a southern flying squirrel or their nesting materials. Other concerns associated with flying squirrels can include fires from chewed wires, compacted insulation, and odors from latrines. Stains from latrines sometimes are seen on ceilings and look like a dark runny tar.

Trapping flying squirrels is a relatively easy affair as they do not seem to be afraid of new things and are easily attracted to the scent of lures and baits. Rat size snap traps and a good bait like WCS™ NB, WCS™ Fruit and Nut, or ACP Rednecks Pride Gotter Dun are very efficient. A piece of pecan added to the bait works well. Use lots of traps as the resident population may be high especially during winter months. Using rat sized stations like the Protecta® Evo Tunnel, Protecta® EVO Express, or the new Kwik Katch XL Trap Station will assist in limiting non-target captures and maximizing capture rates. If cage trapping or using one way door capture systems, check them daily at a minimum as flying squirrels will expire quickly in cage traps. Adding a slice of apple to cage traps seems to help in avoiding capture myopathy (capture stress and possible death). If you are going the one-way door route, use a 3”x3” WCS™ OWDE or similar device. For a modular approach consider the WCS™ Excluder Series one-way traps with gutter, soffit, or straight nose cones, or the various sized Tomahawk Squirrel Packs.

A thorough inspection is necessary to properly seal a house to prevent re-entry once the squirrels have been removed. These squirrels can fit through very small openings so anything larger than a quarter must be properly sealed. Sealing an entire home for flying squirrels is very similar to conducting a bat seal up…BE VERY THOROUGH! These small squirrels will actively chew to regain entry so be sure to use a quality exclusion products such as metal flashing, PrevenChew™ stainless mesh, copper mesh, Xcluder™ fabric, Rodexit™ proofing strips or Metex Rat Tape. Be sure to check ridge, gable, and roof vents for possible entry points and cover with a quality manufactured product. Due to the strong odors and pheromone trails associated with large colonies of flying squirrels re-infestation can be problematic. In some instances, entire attic restorations may be necessary. Deodorizing without removing all contaminants and insulation may not have much effect on possible reinfestation but can be useful in mitigating odor complaints. On a closing note, be sure to check the laws in your states regarding flying squirrels as they are protected in some jurisdictions.              

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