Southern Flying Squirrels
Baby flyers have a strict breeding season, we only have babies for a limited time.
These gentle tiny squirrels are true “pocket pets”. Flying squirrels form a deep bond with their human owner and enjoy spending hours climbing around or sleeping in their owners clothing. Squirrels are nocturnal but will adjust slightly to their owners and spend time awake with them. A gliding membrane which extends from front leg to its back leg is stretched out and allows the squirrel to glide from perch to perch for up to 150 feet! It's large eyes, loving nature, and gliding ability make it a popular companion.
What is a Flying Squirrel?
Flying Squirrels are small rodents that are native to parts of the United States. Flying squirrels form a deep bond with their human owner and enjoy spending time climbing around or sleeping in their owner's clothing. These animals are nocturnal which means they are asleep during the day and awake during the night.
Are they the same thing as a Sugar Glider?
No, they are completely different and are not even related! Sugar gliders are marsupials and flyers are rodents. Sugar Gliders have a foul smell and scent glands and flyers do not. Gliders breed all year round and will breed very well and easily in captivity, Flyers breed once a year and are not very successful when paired and bred in captivity. They have different diets, fur color, fur texture, smell, and noises. The only aspects they share are that they both glide, they are the same size, and they both form close bonds with their owners.
Average Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Diet: We feed our squirrels our home made squirrel mix consisting of nuts, grain and supplements. Shelled nuts like pecan and walnuts are good treats. Calcium must be added to their diet. We prefer to give our squirrels orange slices twice per week in addition to the powdered calcium on their food.
Size at Adulthood: 5 " long including the tail, and weigh between 4- 6oz.
Living environments: A good cage is a medium size bird cage, at least 2'x2'x4'. Bar spacing should be no more than 1/2" wide. Provide plenty of non-toxic branches, hanging pouches and sleeping areas for them. You can use cotton, or hamster nesting material for nest boxes.
Bonding: It is important to acquire your baby squirrel at no more than 8 weeks of age and carry them in your shirt pocket or in a bonding pouch for several hours a days for at least two to three weeks.
Owning a Flying Squirrel
Flying squirrels can be affectionate and loving pets if cared for properly and acquired at the right age. Hand feedings and daily handling is crucial in the first few weeks after you receive them to ensure proper bonding. It is relatively easy to bond with a new baby but is very challenging if you receive an older adult who is not bonded to you. Each flying squirrel can have their own personality but generally they are attention seekers and affectionate with their humans.
Do they bite?
My answer to this question is simple, anything with teeth can bite. Anything handled from a young age and generally domesticated and treated as a pet more than likely will not bite. I would rate flying squirrels as 95% bite free. I have found that they can bite fingers, if they are poked at, scared, or if you startle them in their nest box or pouch.
Preparing for a Flying squirrel
Before you bring your Flyer home, you should have its habitat ready. Your baby will come in a small plastic aquarium for it to stay in for the first two weeks. It is important that you keep the baby in this container for it to regulate its body temperature and to keep it in a more natural “nest” environment like it would be in the wild.
When your squirrel is ready for a big cage, line the bottom of the cage with a few sheets of newspaper. Fill the water bottle and attach it to the side of the cage. Place about 2 table spoons full of seed mix / food in one food dish and cut up some fruits and veggies for the other dish. You can also put non-toxic branches for them to climb on. Place the nest box or bonding pouch somewhere up high on the side of the cage. Place toys and wheel inside with enough room for it to move around and be comfortable. Changing the newspaper should be done once or more a week.
Remember to locate a vet experienced with exotics and that is willing to see your baby BEFORE you get your baby.
How much time does a Flying Squirrel require?
The first few weeks it is critical to spend as much time as possible with your baby to bond with it. Carry it around in a pouch or shirt pocket and introduce it to lots of people. Several hours a day is required the first 2-3 weeks. After bonding is achieved, it would still be best to spend as much time as possible, but an hour every evening would be great for your flyer.
Bonding is a very special characteristic of the Flying Squirrel. Bonding occurs during the first few weeks of ownership and can last for the life of your flyer. Begin the bonding process by gaining your baby’s trust. Hand-feeding the babies will make them very sweet and love to be around you. Carry your baby in a bonding pouch or in a loose shirt pocket. This will let your baby become familiar with your smell and voice. In the evenings, when your flyer is awake, spend time hand feeding it, playing with it and giving it attention. The feelings will soon become mutual.
You must have PetAg or Esbilac canned puppy milk replacer (carried at Walmart) on hand prior to receiving your baby squirrel. Other brands of canned puppy milk would be acceptable if unavailable. Once opened the can must be discarded after 3 days, several cans will be necessary. Hand-feeding is necessary for the bonding process of a Flyer. However, since improper hand-feedings can be fatal, it is important that a responsible adult do all the hand-feedings.
When you receive your baby it will already be accustomed to hand-feedings and will be ready to eat when they get home. Make sure you have a paper towel to clean their faces and the syringe ready. Do not use any other feeding utensil or attachments for the syringe that I will provide. Get the baby out of the carrier and set it down. Do not feed your baby on its back. Show them the tip of the syringe. They will know what it is and put their mouth up to it. At this time you can SLOWLY push the formula into their mouths. You must stop every 5-8 seconds to let them finish what is in their mouth.
Pushing the syringe in too fast will push milk into the babies lungs and they will die within a few hours. It is very, very important that you feed them painstakingly slowly. A proper feeding should last 6-10 minutes. The minimum amount of feedings is 3 times a day, but if you can feed them more often it is recommended. A typical feeding is around 3-5 full syringes. They may eat less the first day, which is normal. Do not ever force them to eat more. When they are done, they are done. After they have finished, wipe off any formula from their mouths and set them in their cage to digest for about an hour. Then you can get them out to play. If you don’t have time to wait the hour, you can gently play with them for a few minutes.
Flying Squirrel Diet
Babies will be on the formula 2 times a day as well as apple/orange slices and flying squirrel seed. After two weeks they should begin to wean off the formula and be on the staple diet with fruits and veggies. They also need a calcium supplement. Some people use Repcal, a calcium powder, but we give our adults orange slices twice per week and that takes care of the calcium deficiency.
Flying squirrel are very active will require exercise and activities to avoid becoming overweight or sick. A solid plastic wheel in the cage is a great exercise tool. You should spend time with your flyer as often as you can outside of their cage. Never take your flyer outside to play, they may jump into a tree and never come down.
Living with a flying squirrel:
Having a flying squirrel is like having a super affectionate, lovable hamster that can fly! They have cute antics and individual personalities. They love to nuzzle in your clothing all day and will entertain you all night running around and investigating everything.
We recommend getting two flying squirrels because they are social and can get lonely which can lead to behavior problems. This is not a requirement, we have many clients with only one squirrel that lives happy and healthy.
Overall they make excellent pets, can be handled and cared for by the whole family.