Description: The Southern Flying Squirrel (Sciuridae: Glaucomys volans) is very small squirrel. Very silky coat grayish brown above, white below, with hairs all white from tip to base. Loose fold of skin between foreleg and hind-leg. Flattened gray-brown tail. Large black eyes. L 7 3/4–10 1/8"; T 3 1/8–4 3/4" ; H 7/8–1 1/4" ; Wt 1 1/2–3 1/8 oz.

Similar Species: Slightly larger Northern Flying Squirrel is a richer brown, with abdominal fur usually gray at base.

Breeding: The female usually mates in early spring with 2 to 7 young born after a gestation of 41 days. Often a second litter is born during August–September, usually by females that do not breed in spring.

Habitat: Various deciduous forests such as beech, maple, oak, hickory, and, in the South, Live Oak.

Range: Eastern U.S. (except for northern New England and the southern tip of Florida) east of Minnesota, eastern Kansas, and eastern Texas.

Discussion: The flying squirrels are the only nocturnal tree squirrels. Although it is active in all seasons, the Southern Flying Squirrel may remain in its nest in very cold weather and will enter torpor in times of extreme cold or food scarcity. The state of torpor is not as deep as true hibernation, but the animal’s body temperature can drop to 22F (–6C), and it may take up to 40 minutes to wake. In winter, several individuals may den together in one tree hole, as their combined body heat brings up the den temperature; as many as 50 individuals have been found in one nest in winter. The flying squirrel glides through the air, up to 80 yards or more, from the top of one tree down to the trunk of another. It glides with its legs outstretched and the fold of skin between foreleg and hind-leg acting as a combination parachute and sail. While gliding, it can turn or change its angle of descent. Just before landing, it drops its tail and lifts its forelegs, slackening the flight skin, which then serves as an air brake. It lands very lightly on all four feet, and scurries around to the other side of the tree trunk, in case a predator has followed its flight. Agile and extremely surefooted aloft, it is relatively clumsy on the ground.