Can a Flying Squirrel actually fly?

Flying squirrels do not actually fly as the name suggests. It's actually rather misleading because what they actually do is glide through the air, using a thin membrane that stretches from limb to limb, much in the same way a glider would enjoy his hobby. The flying squirrel was said to have originated many years ago, some 18 to 20 million years ago to be exact, and despite the name, don't have the same capacity to fly in the same way that bats and birds can. Their gliding technique proves invaluable, on the other hand, and has obviously served them well. You don't make it 20 million years on this planet without doing something right! Within North America, you will find two types of flying squirrel - Northern and Southern flying, and neither of them actually fly. The Southern, smaller version predominantly lives in Southern Canada and Florida, while the Northern, larger variety can be found in Alaska and Northern Canada, as well as further south - Tennessee.

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Flying squirrels are truly fascinating creatures If you have ever seen this graceful creature project itself fearlessly from tree to tree it is an impressive sight, but do they really fly like a bird or bat? No, they are not actually able to fly the way that birds or bats do. Instead flying squirrels manages to gracefully glide from tree to tree with the aid of furry a membrane called a patagium. This membrane t stretches from the squirrel's equivalent of a wrist on its front paws to the figurative ankle on its hind foot. Having explained that, you should note that Flying squirrels can even vary amongst themselves anatomically, according to their size. While every flying squirrel has the basic membrane that runs the length of their body, they each also have a tiny membrane that stretches between the neck and forelimbs. It is found larger squirrels also have this membrane between their hind legs as well. Both these extra pieces seem somehow related to how each specific creature is able to glide.

While smaller members of the flying squirrel family do not have the extra membrane on their hind end, they seem to have more featherlike tails than their bigger counterparts. We already know that all squirrel's tails act like a parachute when failing. In flying squirrels their long tail appears to provide an extra amount of stability in "flight". Even though they may be very similar to other squirrels, flying squirrels are smaller in size, and have quite a few interesting adaptations to aid in their life style. The bones in the flying squirrel's limbs (arms and legs) are longer than the common squirrels), but the bones in their actual hands and feet are much shorter. This means that as they glide through the air they can actually steer themselves and have control over the glide path by using their arms, legs, and tail. Furthermore, it is proven that Flying squirrels can create a type of mid-flight lift that actually allows them to glide up to an astounding space of 300 feet in one flight.

They not only use their large, fluffy tail as a counterweight balance while gliding through the air, but as a "drag parachute" as well in order to slow their descent when landing. They have excellent night vision, and if you watch them before takeoff, you will notice that they actually bob their heads in order to triangulate their flight patterns. This is done because while the flying squirrel's side set eyes is perfect for spotting an attack from any direction, they do not give the animal very good depth perception when combined its small head size. You will also see squirrels that appear to drop like a stone just a few yards after takeoff. This is done to allow the creature to build up speed for a longer glide.

You can actually watch the squirrels adjusting their path, or even turning in mid air by raising or lowering their arm. Although the young are born in small batches in a nest high off the ground, the naked and helpless animals mature quickly under their mother's attention. At just five weeks they are able to begin gliding. By ten weeks they are ready to leave the nest. These creatures are truly one of nature's wonders.

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