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Pet Flying Squirrel Complete Care Guide | With feeding, housing and handling tips


If you are here, then you are considering a hedgehog as a pet and you are in the right place to learn vital information to make the right decision. Hedgehogs are generally easy to care for but still have many considerations. This was written from the perspective of a professional hedgehog caretaker and actual hedgehog experience, be careful of pet articles written by professional writers who only compile information from the web and may have an agenda or bias underlying the article.



As a hedgehog caretaker since 1997 I have personally cared for hundreds of different hedgehogs as well as breeding and selling them since 2008. My name is Ashley Duncan I am the owner and founder of JEAR and hedgehogs have been a big part of my life since I was a teenager. I thoroughly enjoy sharing them with people because of their surprisingly sweet nature.



pet flying squirrel Care guide



How long do flying squirrels live

Pet Flying Squirrel Lifespan Southern flying squirrels can live between 12-15 years.


How big are flying squirrels?

Pet flying squirrel Size 5 " long including the tail, and weigh between 4 – 6 oz.


Southern Flying Squirrel Baby 4 weeks old

What do flying squirrels eat?

Pet flying squirrel Diet- Flying squirrels are omnivores. Their diet consists of fruits, nuts, veggies, insects, and protein.


We recommend Rodent Block or specialized squirrel food that comes complete with balanced vitamins and minerals that your squirrel needs in their diet. Seed mixes are okay but must be given in ratios; seeds do not offer complete nutrients and lack essential protein and vitamins that are needed in their diet.


You must add powdered or liquid calcium to their diet which you can sprinkle very lightly on moist food 3 times a week.


As they are foragers, you can place food in a couple of small cups in areas where you know the squirrel does not regularly poop. Remove all uneaten food after 12 hours. You can add occasional treats of hard-boiled egg or chicken for more protein in their diet. Good high-protein treats include mealworms and crickets. However, do not offer your squirrel any insects you found outside, only those that were raised for food. It’s important to switch or add foods slowly. Wait at least one week between new foods to identify if there is an issue with a specific one.







Good fruits for flying squirrels:

1. Pears

2. Apples

3. Oranges

4. Peaches

5. Berries


Good veggie foods for Flying squirrels:

1. Bell peppers

2. Cabbage

3. Cauliflower

4. Green beans

5. Snap peas

6. Spinach




What you will need to get started with a new baby Flying Squirrel


1. Enclosure Cage - Before you bring your baby home, you should have their habitat ready. A large, tall bird-type cage is best for adults. Wire spacing should be no more than 1/2 inch. New younger babies may be in a smaller nest enclosure and may not be immediately ready to go into a large cage.

2. Cage cleaner – Dish soap, vinegar

3. Bedding for cage pan – Shavings/pellets, newspaper, liners - never use cedar shavings around your squirrel

Liners need to be changed every few days. Other beddings will need to be replaced once a week.

4. Wheel (with a smooth running surface) or some kind of exercise option

5. 2 food dishes - One for dry food and one for wet food.

6. 8oz Water bottle

7. Nest box - This is where your squirrel will want to sleep during the day.

Place the box somewhere up high on the side of the cage.

8. Toys/Cage accessories - Squirrels are arboreal, meaning they don't spend much time on the bottom of their cage. They prefer to be higher up, swinging from side to side, and jumping from toy to toy. Good toys include branches, platforms, hanging toys, swings, hammocks, foraging towers, and bridges.

9. Bonding pouch - This is one of the most effective tools when it comes to bonding with your new baby.

10. Heat source – Use a heat emitter if your house is very cold but adult squirrel acclimates well to indoor temperatures.

11. Digital thermometer – Optional

12. Nutritious diet




Flying Squirrel Pet Toys



Squirrels love having all kinds of toys in their cage! Hanging toys are their favorite! ** Squirrels destroy toys, be prepared to spend money replacing any toys your squirrel will love to chew up.





Bonding with your pet flying squirrel



It is important to acquire your baby squirrel at an early age and carry them in your shirt pocket or in a bonding pouch for several hours a day for at least two to three weeks. This will let your baby become familiar with your smell and voice. In the evenings, when your baby is awake, spend time feeding them, playing with them, and giving them attention. The feelings will soon become mutual. For now, focus on gaining their trust and making them feel secure. A good tip is to put one of your slightly dirty shirts or pieces of clothing in the pouch for them to sleep with, this will help them to relax and will start the bonding process with your scent. After the bonding is achieved, it would still be best to spend as much time as possible, but at least an hour every evening would be great.






Pet Flying Squirrel Tent time



You will want to purchase a tent that has mesh sides so your squirrel can still see out of the tent. You will also want the tent to be big enough to comfortably fit you and your baby, but small enough for your squirrel to remain relatively close.




The tent bonding method has been proven to be beneficial in assisting with the bonding process while also offering a secure area for your squirrel to play and exercise without having to worry about household hazards. If you have a new squirrel, give them a few days to get acclimated to their new surroundings before taking them into the tent.



Bonding pouches for pet flying squirrels



I use a wearable bonding pouch with all of our babies. I begin to tote them around when they are close to weaning so they are familiar with being in one. Carrying them provides them with moving stimulation, warmth, and comfort. They can hear your voice, feel you moving and breathing and you can pet and rub them through the fabric. It also helps very scared babies to bond because it removes the biting, scratching, or running away so you can easily handle or interact with your baby while bonding without either of you being hurt or frustrated. Babies can be carried several hours per day. They should not be carried at night - this is when they are awake and running around playing and eating, not sleeping.









Exercise for pet flying squirrels



Squirrels are very active and 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 baby as often as you can outside of their cage. Never take your squirrel outside to play, they may jump into a tree and never come down. Exercise does not only mean running on a wheel.


Squirrels also need other activities and enrichment:

1. Interactive toys and cage accessories

2. Playing soft music for them

3. Including multiple textures and materials in their cage

4. Allowing your baby to forage for their treats

5. Social interaction with you or another flying squirrel

6. You can find a million unique toys all over the web, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, etc. You can even get creative and make your own!

7. Some people build a ropes course in a safe room or some type of tunnel system


Household hazards for pet flying squirrels



1. Toilet, sinks, bathtubs, buckets, swimming pools, and even open pots of liquid on countertops, make sure to keep the doors closed and put lids on everything before you let your baby out to play each day. Your squirrel can drown!

2. Air freshener, candles, cleaning chemicals, and sprays - Squirrels have a great sense of smell and a very curious personality, so they will automatically be drawn to anything that smells sweet.

3. Insects are a natural food, so always make sure to clean up any dead bugs around the house that might have been killed by pesticides.

4. Keep them out of the kitchen while you are cooking, stovetops, toasters, coffee pots, light bulbs, and hot pots can all injure your squirrel.

5. Any space your squirrel can squeeze into may create a potential issue or hazard.

6. Open windows and doors are easy ways for your squirrel to get out.

7. Holes in cabinets, holes in walls, or holes near plumbing fixtures.

8. Outlets/wires





Temperatures for pet flying squirrel



Baby squirrels need to be kept very warm, especially during the first two weeks. Around 75 - 80 degrees. If your home is cold or chilly, you may want to keep a heating pad available to make sure they stay warm the first two weeks, always make sure they can get off the heat pad if they get too warm. You want to designate a corner or a small area for the heat pad to be available. You do not want to completely heat the enclosure your baby is in, it might overwhelm them with too much heat; you want to give your baby an option to be on heat or not to if they choose. After about 5 months of age, they can regulate their own body temperature and do not need additional heat. In their big wire cage, make sure you have a warm place for them to sleep that is up high. Keep all cages off the floor, it’s better to keep them on a desk, on a stand, or a table, keeping them on the floor can cause them to get chilled. Covering the cage (especially at night) with a heavy towel or blanket helps regulate the temperature also. Try not to use a heat lamp or a heat rock - these are too hot, and direct. Also, keep them out of the direct sun.



Living with a pet 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. They require frequent/daily handling to keep them tame and bonded, along with plenty of space for exercise.



Since they are nocturnal and are most active in the evening/nighttime. Changing their light schedule to attempt to make them active during the day can cause complications like stress, a lower immune system.


Overall they make excellent pets and can bond with the whole family if everyone handles and provides equal care for the baby. Remember, your squirrel is bonded to you and your family. Any strangers that come into their space may cause stress and abnormal behaviors.


Remember to locate a vet experienced with exotics and that is willing to see your baby before you get your baby. Before the big day, schedule an appointment for your baby to be seen within 72 hours for our health warranty to be effective. Have your vet give a general examination and let them get familiar with you and your baby in case of an emergency or routine visits in the future. You should take your baby in yearly for annual checkups.




Handling your pet flying squirrel



The first thing that you must do before attempting to pick a baby up is to wash your hands. Your baby may be a little scared and may get on its back or try to scamper away from you. Do not be intimidated by this, scoop the baby up with two hands keeping them very secure and be careful that they do not jump out. Handle your baby for a couple of hours several times a day for the first two weeks. If you are able to let them sleep in your pocket or in a bonding pouch that is on you that is great for bonding. Visit the cage and talk to them. Offer treats through the bars. Try to move at their pace rather than your own.


Hold babies with a cupped hand - never fully opened, as they may jump away. You do not want to have to chase your baby around - it will scare them even more. Keep them tightly in your hand or in a bonding pouch every time you hold them for the first few weeks of bonding. It can be a slow process but slowly your baby will learn that you are not a predator and that being in your hand is safe and they will begin exploring you. This takes patience and time. The bonding process can take as little as 2 weeks or take as long as 7-8 weeks. The more time and positive interaction your baby has with you during these first weeks, the better.



Bathing your Pet Flying Squirrel



Do NOT ever bathe your flyer with water, if they get dirty you can spot clean them with baby wipes or baby powder, keep them very warm at all times. They could develop hypothermia or pneumonia, or develop a bad reaction to the shampoo. Healthy babies groom themselves without any help. If your squirrel is dirty or not engaging in grooming, you should visit your veterinarian to find out why they are acting abnormally.


Being wet will chill them. Chills can be fatal, especially for a baby. Don’t let them air dry, dry them immediately with a warm towel.


Tip: Some ways to eliminate bad odors are to feed them correctly, learn their bathroom routine, and clean their cage and toys regularly.




Pet flying squirrel nail trimming



Having an extra hand is always helpful when trimming your squirrel's nails. The best thing to use is human baby nail clippers since their nails are so small. You may even want to get a magnifying glass to be extra safe. If You cut the pink part use quick-stop, corn starch, or flour to stop the bleeding. If this happens, don’t feel too bad. Almost every owner has done it at one time or another. This is only necessary on an as-needed basis.


You can help keep your squirrel's nails in good shape to avoid frequent trimmings by providing them with sandpaper material branches, platforms, and wheel inserts.


Tips

- Trim the nails during the day, this is when they tend to be more calm and tired.

- Let them roam around the cage for 5 minutes after removing their pouch/waking them up, so they can use the bathroom inside the cage, instead of on you.

- Wrap them in a small towel, so they feel safe and snug.

- Providing a treat can keep them occupied while you trim.




If your baby flying squirrel escapes from its cage
  1. Double-check they aren’t hiding under any bedding or in any corners/pouches.

  2. Put the toilet seat down.

  3. Shut all the doors after you check each room.

  4. In each room check under everything including appliances.

  5. Leave out strong-smelling foods to lure them out.

  6. Make some noise

  7. Turn up the heat, if it's cold they are likely to stay huddled up.

  8. Find out how they escaped and prevent it from happening again.



Out of cage playtime for your flying squirrel


  1. Be careful of anything they can squeeze under or behind

  2. Be sure anything in their reach is safe and non-toxic

  3. Be aware that they may pee, or poop when out of their cage

  4. Keep an eye on them!


Flying Squirrel Teeth


Flying squirrels have continually growing teeth. If they do not chew and grind their teeth down, they can grow too large. They are relentless chewers and can be destructive if not given enough appropriate items to chew. Hard nuts such as pecans and walnuts will help keep his teeth from getting too long. You can also buy many different chew toys. Never trim a squirrel's teeth!



Flying Squirrel Pet Health


Flyers do not need any vaccines or shots unless it’s to treat an illness or for parasite treatment. When visiting a vet, please take caution if they want to give your flyer vaccines or unnecessary shots- there are none made especially for flyers, and it may be dangerous. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns and ask if they have treated flyers before.


A baby flyer may display a few symptoms the first few days while adjusting to the new home such as sneezing, having a little diarrhea, and being scared. All of these things are normal the first day or two while they are adjusting, and it is not anything to be seriously concerned about. If the symptoms persist or are accompanied with lethargy, there may be a more serious problem. Call your vet immediately. Flying squirrels are naturally prey animals, therefore, they hide their illnesses very well. Any odd behavior can be the first sign something is wrong.


Keeping weekly records helps you get a feel for what is normal and what’s not. Some things that are recommended to keep track of are weight, food intake, wheel activity, temperature, and any physical changes.


Pet Flying Squirrel Complete Care Guide | With feeding, housing and handling tips



Pet southern Flying Squirrel FAQ's




Will my pet flying squirrel bite me?


Anything with teeth can bite. Squirrels bite for various reasons ranging from fear, unfamiliar smells, or self-defense. Biting is the prime source of defense when they feel threatened or trapped. A foreign scent or a human hand can be a scary enemy. However, once you earn their trust and form a bond, this type of biting rarely happens.




Do flying squirrels smell bad?


No, they do not have scent glands or a smell. Their cage will begin to smell if it is not cleaned out regularly. You can spot clean daily, or do a full clean of their whole cage once a week. Sanitizing the cage and accessories once a week is important.



Will flying squirrels need shots or vaccines?


None are needed.



Can I litter train my flying squirrel?


No. They will eventually learn with age to potty in their cage. It's more so centered around routine and habit.



Should I get my pet flying squirrel a friend?


Yes! We recommend having at least two 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.



Can I legally own a flying squirrel?


Before deciding to purchase a flying squirrel, research whether they are legal to own as pets in your state, city, and county. If you are traveling with your squirrel out of state, know the legal status of flying squirrels in all areas you will be traveling. Many places in the United States require a permit for them. You’ll need to carefully look into all laws and restrictions — even your homeowner’s association or similar association might have rules about these animals.



Should I get a male or female flying squirrel?


Male and female squirrels can be equally sweet and curious, but each will be unique. Depending on how much time you spend with your baby and how they are raised, the personality will vary. It is not really dependent on gender.



How are flying squirrels with other pets?


Larger animals may frighten them, I would recommend not having direct contact with larger animals. You can purchase a 'hamster ball' and let them roll around without worrying about direct contact. They can also be very afraid of some species of large birds and should not be homed near one.



Are flying squirrels good with kids?


In general, flying squirrels are not good pets for kids. They are exotic pets and have more complicated needs than your average small pet, such as a guinea pig. It would only be advisable for kids to get a flying squirrel if they have a responsible parent who is willing to take on the major responsibilities of owning one.



Can flying squirrels free roam the house?


With supervision. It's much safer to keep them in their cage when you can't be there to watch out for them than it is to let them roam free with all the household hazards that could potentially harm your baby.



How much time do flying squirrels require?


For 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 are required for the first 2-3 weeks. After the bonding is achieved, it would still be best to spend as much time as possible, but at least an hour every evening would be great for your baby.



Can I take my flying squirrel outside?


Never take your flying squirrel outside to play, they may jump into a tree and never come down. They should always be in a bonding pouch or carrier. Yes, they will take off even if they are bonded to you.



If I get two will the flying squirrels bond with me less?


No. The squirrel will bond with each other and you. There’s plenty of bonding to go around!



Can I use a harness or leash to keep my flying squirrel near me for walks?


NO. You should never use any type of harness, collar, leash, or other restrictive gear on these animals.




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