Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
Superheroes of the squirrel world, flying squirrels of the Pteromyini tribe consist of 50 species of squirrels in the Sciuridae family. Known for soaring anywhere from 150 to 500 feet, transferring from one tree to another to avoid predators, flying squirrels glide rather than fly.
See the fact file below for more information on the flying squirrel or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Flying Squirrel worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The three species – Glaucomys sabrinus, Glaucomys volans, and Glaucomys oregonensis – under the genus Glaucomys are endemic to North America and Central America.
- The Siberian flying squirrel is native to some regions of northern Europe.
- The direction and speed of flying squirrels in midair are diverse, caused by altering the positions of their limbs, extremely controlled by little cartilaginous wrist bones. There is a cartilage projection from the wrist that flying squirrels maintain upwards during a lids. This specially designed cartilage can only be seen in flying squirrels and not in other gliding mammals.
- Flying squirrels cannot fly like birds or bats; instead, thet glide between trees. They are able to apply lift within the course of these flights, documented to be around 90 meters.
- Data suggest that these styliform cartilage is mostly homologous to the carpal structures found in other squirrels. Together with the manus, the cartilage creates a wing tip to be utilized during gliding. After being stretched, the wing tip may adjust to different angles, controlling aerodynamic movements.
- Flying squirrels’ wrists also alter the strain of the patagium, a furry parachute-like membrane that connects at their wrists down to their ankles.
- They also have a fluffy tail that sustains in flight, acting as an adjunct airfoil and an air break before landing on a tree trunk.
- The colugos, together with the Petauridae family and Anomaluridae family, are gliding mammals that resemble some features of the flying squirrel, as caused by convergent evolution.
- Before the 21st century, the evolutionary history of the flying squirrel was repeatedly discussed, which was then clarified greatly because of the results of two molecular studies. These studies suggested that flying squirrels lived 18 to 20 million years ago, are monophyletic, and form a sister relationship with tree squirrels. Due to their close ancestry, the morphological differences between these two squirrels show insights into the formation of the gliding method.
- A number of hypotheses have tried to figure out the evolution of gliding in flying squirrels. One attempts to explain its relation to energy efficiency and foraging. Gliding is considered an energetically effective approach to transfer from one tree to another while foraging, compared to climbing down trees and maneuvering on the ground or performing deadly keeps in the air.
- Compared to other squirrels of the same size, flying squirrels, and northern and southern flying squirrels display lengthening in bones of the lumbar vertebrae and forearm, whereas those of the feet, hands, and distal vertebrae shrunk in length. Such differences in body proportions suggest the flying squirrel’s adaptation to reduce wing loading and increase more mobility while gliding. As a result of these differences, flying squirrels find it difficult to adapt for quadrupedal locomotion, thus, completely relying on their gliding abilities.
- By gliding at high speeds, flying squirrels can search and forage through a wider perimeter of forest easily than tree squirrels. They can glide long distances by accelerating their aerial speed and their lift.
- Other hypotheses suggest that the approach evolved to avoid nearby predators and injuries. If a lethal situation arises on a particular tree, flying squirrels can glide to another, escaping the previous danger. Moreover, take-off and landing methods during leaps, implemented for safety means, may point out the gliding mechanism. While leaps at high speeds are helpful when escaping danger, the high-force impact of landing on a new tree could impose harm to a squirrel’s health. Yet the gliding mechanism of these squirrels makes use of techniques and approaches during flight that let great stability and control.
- If a leap is miscalculated, a flying squirrel may quickly return to the previous tree through its gliding ability.
- Flying squirrels also make use of large glide angles when close to its target tree, reducing its velocity due to an increase in air resistance and permitting all four limbs to take in the impact.
- In 2019, it was noticed that a flying squirrel glowed fluorescent pink. Successive studies by biologists at Northland College in Northwestern Wisconsin discovered that this is true for all three species of the North American flying squirrels.
REPRODUCTION AND DIET
- Flying squirrels in the wild are expected to live about six years; however, those found in zoos can survive up to 15 years.
- Mortality rate for young flying squirrels is high, which is mainly caused by predators and diseases.
- They are generally nocturnal, since they are not capable of running away from birds of prey that hunt during the day.
- Tree snakes, racoons, owls, martens, fishers, coyotes, bobcats, and feral cats are some of the noted predators of flying squirrels. The Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) is a common predator of the flying squirrel found in the Pacific Northwest of North America.
- Flying squirrels are omnivorous; they eat whatever is present in their natural habitats. The North American southern flying squirrel feeds on seeds, insects, snails, slugs, spiders, shrubs, flowers, fungi, and tree sap.
- Mating season occurs between February and March. A female flying squirrel lives with her newborns in maternal nest sites, as she nurtures and guards them until they leave the nest. Male flying squirrels have no role in nurturing their young.
- Newborns are mostly hairless, apart from their whiskers, and most of their senses are not yet developed. Their internal organs can be seen through the skin, and their sex can be signified. After five weeks, they are almost fully developed and can respond to their environments. The next weeks are dedicated for their practice in leaping and gliding, and after two and a half months, their gliding skills are perfected, and they are able to leave the nest and prepare for independent survival.
Flying Squirrel Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the flying squirrel across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Flying Squirrel worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the flying squirrels of the Pteromyini tribe which consist of 50 species of squirrels in the Sciuridae family. Known for soaring anywhere from 150 to 500 feet, transferring from one tree to another to avoid predators, flying squirrels glide rather than fly.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Flying Squirrel Facts
- Superhero Squirrel
- Label the Flying Squirrel
- Nutty Statements
- Nuts in the Jar
- Quiz Time
- Flying Squirrel Wiki
- North and South
- A Squirrel’s Life
- Flying Squirrels Worldwide
- Wingsuit Flying
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Flying Squirrel Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 5, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.