Flying squirrels are small, furry squirrels with membranous "wings" between their legs and bodies, which enable them to glide through the air. The technical name for their "wing" is the patagium, and by controlling its tautness, they're able to steer. They control their descent and landing using their tails in a similar way to how the elevator of an airplane works.
These abilities give flying squirrels considerable control over their flight and the ability to land with impressive accuracy, which is why they're called flying squirrels. The one thing they can't do, however, is increase their altitude, including taking off from the ground. They can only glide from a higher area to a lower one.
Nonetheless, even being able to glide is enough to make flying squirrels quite a nuisance. They can get into any place a gray squirrel can, plus quite a few places where they can't. Unlike gray squirrels, flying squirrels leap from nearby trees and gently glide to your home, so simply trimming the tree branches back so they don't overhang your home isn't enough to keep these critters out.
Once they get into your home, they create the same sort of problems that gray squirrels do, including:
The most common of the flying squirrel species we get in Alabama is known as the Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomy volans). Occasionally we also get the Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomy sabrinus), which is a bit larger, as well. Both species have similar biology and habits.
Flying squirrels are the smallest of all members of the squirrel family, and they are the only nocturnal tree squirrels. The are usually grayish in color, but there's quite a bit of variation possible, ranging from tan, to reddish-brown, to almost black. They prefer living in established forests with dense tree cover, although they have adapted to living in human-occupied buildings.
Most flying squirrel young are born in the spring or summer, and although they are weaned at about eight weeks, most flying squirrels stay with their mothers until her next litter is born.
Flying squirrels are omnivorous, but most of their diet is plant based. They eat fruits, nuts, mushrooms, lichens, and tree sap; but they've also been known to feast on small mice, birds' eggs and nestlings, slugs, snails, carrion, insects, and other animal foods. One way to tell if a flying squirrel has been eating a nut is that rather than crushing the whole nut, they make a hole in one end and eat the insides out through the hole.
Transmission of disease directly from flying squirrels to humans is rare. However, they do have fleas, ticks, and other parasites that can be involved in disease transmission, and their droppings can serve as breeding media for a variety of insects and fungi.
Flying squirrels are not considered "pests," and therefore there is no such thing as a "flying squirrel exterminator." They're nuisance wildlife, and they must be humanely trapped and removed. Exterminators who leave poison bait for flying squirrels are breaking both state of Alabama and federal laws. They're also setting their customers up for serious problems with odors and insects if the animals die inside the home, especially inside a wall or ceiling void where their carcasses are difficult to find and retrieve.
At Rid-A-Critter, we have performed thousands of flying squirrel removal jobs, and we do them the right way. We humanely trap and relocate the animals, preserving family groups whenever possible. In the case of orphaned or injured animals, all of our technicians have a list of certified wildlife rehabilitators whom we work with and who will accept our animals.
After the flying squirrels are trapped, we also seal up your home so that "new" flying squirrels can't get into the attic. This exclusion work will also animal-proof your home to keep other nuisance animals out of your house.
Like all animal control work, flying squirrel control and exclusion is potentially hazardous work that requires special training, equipment, and safety precautions. This is not a do-it-yourself kind of job. Save yourself the trouble and call us instead.
Here are some pictures of flying squirrel-removal and squirrel-proofing jobs we've done in Birmingham and throughout the Metro area.
If you need help keeping flying squirrels out of your home's attic, please call us today for an on-site inspection and consultation.