Flying squirrels live in forests and only come out at night. As a result, most people have never seen one in the wild. Campers will occasionally spot one as it checks out a campfire or cabin light, or hear a squirrel rummaging in trees or on rooftops for food.
People who live near woods should watch their bird feeders at night for flying squirrels. They can even be spotted at feeders in the city, sometimes entering houses through chimneys and ducts as they look for a nesting site.
If you want to attract flying squirrels to your backyard, you might try building a nest box for them. You can find plans at this site.
Flying squirrels are rather docile (and extremely cute!), and some people keep them as pets. With the right care, they can live up to 15 years. However, because the squirrels are nocturnal, you won’t see them very much during the day, and they may disturb your sleep at night.
Also, obtaining a flying squirrel pet can be quite involved. It’s illegal to take them out of the woods. You must buy them through a registered breeder, but first you need a permit from your state Division of Wildlife. Failure to follow the rules can result in a fine or even jail time.
The flying squirrels on display here live only in North America. However, they have relatives all around the world, and have inspired many legends:
Barb F., south Minneapolis:
I've been filling squirrel feeders at night so the gray squirrels would stay away from my bird feeders early in the morning. It finally dawned on me that someone was feasting overnight, and then one evening I walked by a feeder and a flying squirrel was perched right on top of it. There have been as many as four squirrels at a time in the maple tree in my back yard. They literally fly into the tree when they see I am about to fill the feeders - in fact, several times a squirrel has come down and perched just above the feeder AS I'm filling it, just inches from my hand. They know a good deal when they see one, obviously. For my part, I am very happy to fill the feeders and watch the aerial show from my kitchen window. They are spectacular acrobats - and I thought gray squirrels were nimble. This is more like having elves and fairies in my back yard - almost enchanting!
Dick O., SMM:
[A] mother flying squirrel constructed a nest in the hymnal rack on the bench in a country church. A sudden scene of disturbance developed when the mother and young exited the nest during the service!
Alumroot, from flickr.com:
We have them in our backyard, I get a glimpse of them once in a while. More often I hear them whistling around the neighborhood. I would love to get them accustomed to me being out there so I could watch them. They are fun to watch in the trees.
Have a story of your own? Tell it to us in the comments!