Did you know that Idaho is home to the Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)? This unique mammal is native to much of Idaho, but as it prefers coniferous forests as its home, it is most commonly found in the northern parts of our state. The northern flying squirrel is usually a light brown or reddish color and average about 10-15 inches in length. Northern flying squirrels do not actually fly, but are instead excellent gliders, using flaps of skin between their front and hind limbs to create “wings.” Flying squirrels either make a running start or launch themselves out of trees, using their skin flays to act as a glider with incredible maneuverability, then transitioning into a parachute shape to slow themselves for landings.
A northern flying squirrel’s favorite food is mushrooms and fungi of all types, but they will also each tree sap, insects, bird eggs and carrion if necessary. The northern flying squirrel is a species of least concern, with healthy populations throughout North America.
Interesting facts about the Northern Flying Squirrel:
- Unlike other squirrel species, flying squirrels are entirely nocturnal, which maybe why you’ve never seen one
- Northern flying squirrels have been known to find and eat truffles, perhaps even remembering where they had been found previously
- The northern flying squirrel has been observed to complete glides of over 130 feet
- Despite their grace in the air, northern flying squirrels are clumsy when walking and will generally hide when caught on the ground.
- Flying squirrels are capable of making 90 degree turns while gliding, allowing them to maneuver around trees and other obstacles.