CAN FLYING SQUIRRELS REALLY FLY?
G’day to you wonderful people out there! How has your week been? Anything exciting or awesome happen? In my household, my husband continues to get better and the love of the Lord is felt daily with His presence. Praise God! I pray that this is so with all of you worldwide!
Speaking of worldwide, I was watching our little resident ground squirrel busy at his job of gathering food and Ithought squirrels would make a nice topic. Not just any squirrels, though, but flying squirrels. The question is, do they really fly?
Well, no, they don’t. But they do glide and mighty powerfully and skillfully at that. They “…glide from one tree to another with the aid of a patagium, a furry, parachute-like membrane that stretches from wrist to ankle. Their long tail provides stability in flight. Anatomically they are very similar to othersquirrels but have a number of adaptations to suit their life style; their limb bones are longer and their hand, foot bones and distal vertebrae are shorter. Flying squirrels are able to steer and exert control over their glide path with their limbs and tail.”1 Most are nocturnal scavengers looking for seeds, buds, insects, slugs, spiders, bird’s eggs and of course nuts.
“The direction and speed of the animal in midair are varied by changing the positions of its limbs, largely controlled by small cartilaginous wrist bones.”2 Their fluffy, flattened tails help to stabilize their flight and acts as a
brake before they land on a tree trunk. Flying squirrels are quite accurate in landing on their target.
|Red giant flying squirrel|
The largest of all gliding animals and the longest flying squirrel, is 45-60 centimeters (18-24 inches) long and was listed as an endangered species by the Federal Government of Pakistan. Other giant flying squirrels include the Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Bhutan Hodgson’s, Spotted, Red and White, Mechuka, Mishmi Hills, and Mebo giant flying squirrels.
These last three giant flying squirrels were only just discovered in the northeastern state of India of Arunachal Pradesh in the late 2000s. All of these are about 1 inch smaller than the wooly flying squirrel and live in Asia.
|Hodge’s flying squirrel|
At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest species/subspecies are the pygmy flying squirrels. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a measurement on the size of these miniature creatures. The are only found in Malaysia. The cutest little
flying squirerel is found on the Korean peninsula, temperate Eurasia and Japan. Also found in Japan is the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel, only 14-20 cm (6-8 inches) long.
|Korean flying squirrel|
Other species found throughout, Asia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Java, India and Sri Lanka include the Travancore (found only in the latter two), Basalian, Javanese, Jentiuk’s, whiskered, hairy-footed, Arrow, Hagen’s and many others. Not all of these animals are found in each country as many are endangered.
|Japanese flying squirrel|
Here in North America, the northern, southern and Humboldt’s flying squirrels are found throughout Canada, the United States, Alaska, and Nova Scotia.
The European flying squirrel (also called the Siberian flying squirrel) can be found from the Baltic Sea to the
|Southern flying squirrel|
It is not known if these amazing creatures were created like this and glided around the garden of Eden or if later environmental pressures caused latent DNA to become dominant thus allowing the squirrels to develop the extra flap of skin to adapted to their new environment. Either way, it was the hand of the Maker that created such an amazing mode of travel. How can I be so confident in this statement. Because the big flap of skin that stretches out into their wings is cumbersome on the ground. Any animal ‘evolving’ into this state would have been easy prey and not have survived the
|Bhutan flying squirrel|
Until next week, take care and God bless!
PS Did you know that squirrels are actually rodents!?
Wooly flying squirrel: By Richard Lydekker - Mostly Mammals, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1919000
Hodgson’s: By Nandini Velho - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64123753
Bhutan’S: By Umeshsrinivasan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15157812
Red giant: By Daderot - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33388693