How Fast Can a Flying Squirrel Fly?
Have you ever wondered how fast a flying squirrel can fly? If you do, you’re not alone! This fascinating little animal can cover great distances, and it uses a parachute-like membrane between its back limbs and front limbs to make the flight possible. If you’ve ever wondered how this is possible, keep reading to learn more about the flying squirrel’s abilities. A flying squirrel’s parachute-like membrane provides it with the ability to fly so fast that it can easily evade predators.
Flying squirrels glide from tree to tree
You might not know that flying squirrels are able to move from one branch of a tree to another by using their wings. Their wings are shaped like little flaps called patagium, and they curl upward like the tips of aircraft wingtips. These winglets are responsible for stabilizing the squirrel’s glide and increasing its flight efficiency. Flying squirrels often start from a high branch, and land near the ground before returning to the top of the tree.
They cover great distances
The ability of flying squirrels to cover great distances is attributed to their remarkably fast speeds and puzzling control of acceleration. This increased speed and maneuverability are important for nighttime flying in the forest. A squirrel’s wings are remarkably rigid and have a large patagium – a wing membrane spanning from the neck to the fore and hind limbs – that lessens the impact of landing. While passive gliding allows for rapid travel, it is also the least stable form of locomotion because changes in posture, wing symmetry and weight distribution can disrupt glide, leading to uncontrollable falls.
They avoid predators
Southern flying squirrels are at risk for being eaten by a variety of predators. These animals are nocturnal and often come out only at night. Various nocturnal predators are attracted to these creatures, including owls, bobcats, skunks, and foxes. Rattlesnakes, for example, have been known to consume flying squirrels.
They have a parachute-like membrane between their front and back limbs
In addition to being small, flying squirrels also have an impressively long tail and are highly adept at gliding. They can fly hundreds of feet in the air and turn almost 180 degrees in mid-air, allowing them to reach heights of nearly 300 feet. Because of this, they can perform amazing feats, including leaping many times their own length.
They have padded feet with sharp claws to help them land
In addition to being small, flying squirrels are amazingly agile, thanks to their sharp claws on the tips of their feet. This allows them to move vertically while maintaining their center of gravity. The claws on their feet also give them strategic points for attachment. Their feet allow them to jump over logs and trees by coordinating two separate structures – their paw pads and their claws – so that they can run head-first down a tree. They also have sharp claws on their toes that dig into the ground, allowing them to grip surfaces at angles impossible to achieve in their own bodies.
They have a low aspect ratio
The wing shape of flying squirrels is similar to that of chicken wings. They are long from front to back and short from side to side. The low aspect ratio of these wings provides lift and a balance between the drag of wing movement and reorientation. This aspect ratio is one of the reasons that flying squirrels can fly so well. In addition to this, their low drag allows them to maintain high speeds in the air.
They glide between trees
Dwarf flying squirrels are small and native to northern Borneo and the Malay Peninsula. They are about seven centimeters long with a tail that can stretch as long as 10 cm. They glide between trees in a semicircular pattern, and their long tails are so long that they might mistake them for large butterflies. While flying, they also exert control over their path with their tail and limbs.
How fast can a flying squirrel fly?
Up to 15 miles per hour.
How long can a flying squirrel glide for?
Up to 200 feet.
How many times can a flying squirrel flap its wings per second?
Up to 8 times per second.
What is the maximum height a flying squirrel can glide from?
Up to 100 feet.
How far can a flying squirrel glide?
Up to 600 feet.
What is the maximum speed a flying squirrel can reach while gliding?
Up to 40 miles per hour.
What does a flying squirrel use its tail for?
To help with steering and balancing while in the air.
How many flying squirrel species are there?
Between 19 and 21.
What is the smallest flying squirrel species?
The Indian flying squirrel.
What is the largest flying squirrel species?
The giant flying squirrel.
Where do flying squirrels live?
In North America Europe and Asia.
What do flying squirrels eat?
Insects acorns nuts and berries.
What is the average lifespan of a flying squirrel?
In the wild 5 to 8 years.
In captivity up to 20 years.
How many offspring do flying squirrels have?
Usually 2 to 4.
Are flying squirrels endangered?
No but some species are considered threatened or near threatened.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.