Flying Squirrels are small rodents capable of gliding among the treetops like they’re flying; hence the name.
They do this by spreading the fold of skin between the front and hind legs, forming a kind of parachute that lets them whip through the air.
Gliding as much as 300 feet and doing 180 degree turns in midair is pretty impressive. They use their bushy tails as a rudder to maneuver those sharp turns.
They can live up to 6 years in the wild or 10-15 years in captivity if properly cared for.
Cost of Flying Squirrels
Before purchasing a Flying Squirrel, make sure it is legal to bring it home as pets where you live. Some states like Alabama, California, Colorado, and Hawaii ban residents from owning one.
Other states allow Flying Squirrels as pets as long as you secure a permit. Arkansas, Connecticut, and Georgia are just some of the states where they are legal to have as pets.
A baby Flying Squirrel price is around $300 to $450 depending on the breeder. An adult one can cost cheaper at around $250.
You still have to factor in the cost of shipping by air which can cost around $250. Ground transportation ranges from $100 to $500.
It’s not that cheap so do your homework before buying Flying Squirrels as pets. We suggest checking with the local office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in your state on relevant laws concerning these exotic animals.
Preparing for Your Pet’s Arrival
Tall wire cages are preferred as Flying Squirrels tend to go to higher ground rather than move horizontally. Choose a cage with small spaces between the bars to avoid the pets from escaping and possible accidents like being stuck between the slots. A cage of this quality can range from $150 to $200.
Their teeth will keep growing throughout their lives so provide chewing materials like hard bark and sterilized chew bones. You can put in tree branches for them to sit or climb on.
A nest box provides a place for them to sleep. You can get one for around $25.
If you want to make it more personal, you can build one yourself. For bedding, you can use old t-shirts or shredded newspapers.
- Food and Diet
Wild Flying Squirrels’ diet consists of plants, seeds, nuts, and fruit. They also scavenge for insects, birds, eggs, and carrion.
As pets, many owners feed them with a mixture of sunflower seeds, pellets, pumpkin seeds, and other sources of protein. They mix it up with fruit, berries, vegetables, healthy cereals, and parrot or monkey biscuits.
Many feed types available in the market are already pre-packaged. An 18-ounce bag of Henry’s food blocks costs around $14.
Since Flying Squirrels are nocturnal creatures and don’t get sunlight, they are prone to calcium deficiency. It is recommended to include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D3 and limit the intake of phosphorous because this offsets calcium absorption.
Some pet owners give their pets Rep-cal which costs around $6 for a 3-ounce jar. This is a supplement in powder form that they can add in their drinking water.
- Pet toys and accessories
A 16-ounce glass water bottle can cost $24. Flying squirrels are active and love to climb so it’s good to provide something they can play with and climb on.
A bonding pouch is something to carry your flyer in and aids in establishing a close relationship with your pet. It provides easy access to your pet should they need constant care.
You can make one yourself. But if you’re not into craft-making, then you can buy one for $5.
Wheels are good for exercise and you can buy them for less than $10.
Flying Squirrels as Pets
They are very energetic and playful animals. They love to dash here and there so a wide-spaced habitat is recommended.
They are also very affectionate and like to spend time with their owner. In fact, they are known as “pocket pets” because they like sleeping in their owner’s pocket.
However, they need a fair amount of hands-on care and attention. If you’re away most of the time, having them as pets is not a good fit.
If you intend them as pets for young children, it would be best not to let them handle it alone until they’re old enough to know better.
Types of Flying Squirrels in North America
There are almost 50 different species of flying squirrels found in forests around the world. Three types of flying squirrels are found in North America – the Northern Flying Squirrel, Southern Flying Squirrel, and the Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel.
- Northern Flying Squirrel
Both the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels are gray-brown but the Northern Flying Squirrel’s belly fur is colored gray at the base. They can grow up to 10-12 inches long including the tail and weighs about 4 ounces.
They inhabit coniferous and mixed forests using holes in treetops for nesting.
- Southern Flying Squirrel
Its belly fur is all white. Another way to distinguish it from the Northern Flying Squirrel is that the Southern is smaller at just about 8-10 inches in length.
Southern Flying Squirrels can be found in woodlands. They prefer seed-producing trees like maple, beech, hickory, oak, and poplar.
- Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel
They are similar in appearance to their northern counterparts but slightly smaller and have darker fur. They feed on plants as well as tree sap, fungi, insects, and bird eggs.
They live in thick coastal forests of the Pacific Coast region from southern British Columbia to the mountains of Southern California.
Handling a Flying Squirrel
Your baby flying squirrel will come in a plastic aquarium where it will stay for the first two weeks. This is done to regulate its body temperature and emulate the natural habitat it has in the wild.
When it’s time to transfer it to the cage, place several newspapers on the bottom. Fill the water bottle. Put seed mix in a dish and some fruit or vegetable in another.
Place the bonding pouch somewhere high along the side of the cage. Put in the toys and note to replace the newspapers with fresh ones at least once a week.
There’s nothing like feeding your pets as a way to bond with them. You can use PetAg or Esbilac canned puppy milk for starters which cost around $4 per one 11-ounce can. Once the can is opened, you have to discard it after three days.
When you buy Baby Flying squirrels at Janda Exotics in Texas, it will be providing the syringe you can use for feeding. They have been hand-fed since birth and will recognize the syringe when they see it.
It is important to control the milk portions given as too much can hurt their lungs. When they see the syringe, they will automatically put their mouths to it. You can slowly push out the milk little by little; giving the babies time to ingest it.
One feeding can last 6-10 minutes. Normally, 3-5 full syringes can be consumed in one feeding. It should be done at least three times a day.
This will last for 2 weeks after which, they can be weaned off the milk formula and start with solid foods.
Bonding with their owners is Flying Squirrels’ unique character trait. It is important to receive your new gliding pet no more than 8 weeks of age.
It is much easier for pet owners to bond if they’re still babies. You can carry them in your shirt pocket or in a bonding pouch several hours a day for 2-3 weeks so they can pick up your voice and smell.
When you carry them around, they are also exposed to other people which is good.
In general, flying squirrels do not need vaccinations but it does help that you have one or two veterinary contacts on hand that specialize in exotic pets for an annual exam.
A flying squirrel that has developed a bond with its owner can be an amazing pet. It will want to be with you always as a constant companion.
It will greet you climbing up and down your body. That’s probably the coolest thing ever.