How Many Flying Squirrel Species Are There?
Flying squirrels are among the most lovable creatures in the animal kingdom. The adult flying squirrels weigh 4.9 ounces and measure about 12 inches (30 cm) in length. Their tails are broad and feather-like and they have lateral skin folds on the sides of their bodies between the front and hind legs that function as gliding membranes. Flying squirrels have a distinctive orange or red eye shine. Their pelage is thick and silky. The body color is light brown to cinnamon with a white belly.
Glaucomys volans (Glaucomys volans)
There are many varieties of flying squirrel. Several of them are very similar in appearance, and most of the flying squirrels have a very similar skull structure. The morphology of their skulls is based on similarities in their cranial anatomy. The skull of Miopetaurista, for example, is similar to the skulls of Petaurista and Aeromys. If you’d like to know which flying squirrel species is closest to your native country, read on.
Some of these differences are based on the scientific names of the species. The southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is a threatened species. Its reproductive biology and territoriality are both known to affect competition among two species. A biologist who studies fly-squirrel behavior and ecology may be able to answer the question, “How many flying squirrel species are there?”
The Northern and Southern flying squirrels breed once or twice per year. In captivity, their young depend on their mothers for two months before being able to fly on their own. These flying squirrels can live for 10 years, but only half that in the wild. They are common in a variety of parts of the United States, but few people ever see them. The southern flying squirrel is the most common type in the country, while the northern flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel.
G. s. macrotis (G. s. macrotis)
How many flying squirrel species are there? There are three species native to North America, each around 26 centimeters long. However, about 90 percent of these flying squirrels are found in Asia. They are not as small as raccoons and can grow to be as big as 1.8 kilograms! So what are the differences between these flying squirrels? Keep reading to find out! And be sure to check out this helpful guide!
The earliest evidence of the flying squirrels’ evolution is in fossil remains. The wrist anatomy and gliding membrane of flying squirrels indicate they are closely related. As such, flying squirrels likely evolved from a common ancestor in the Oligocene Epoch. It is possible that flying squirrels evolved from a tree squirrel ancestor. This theory has not been confirmed but is one possibility that explains the many different flying squirrel species.
The northern flying squirrel is strictly nocturnal. Its wings are incapable of flight. This animal is classified into 25 subspecies in North America. The scientific name for the northern flying squirrel is Glaucomys sabrinus, while the southern flying squirrel is Glaucomys volans. The third flying squirrel species is the Humboldt’s flying squirrel, which is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel.
Humboldt’s flying squirrel (G. s. macrotis)
The Humboldt’s flying squirrel is the 45th known species of flying squirrel, a fact that is made even more amazing because genetic data has revealed that the animal is actually part of a separate group. According to the journal of mammalogy, Glaucomys oregonensis has a broader range than the northern flying squirrel, and is found throughout the United States and Canada.
In addition to its similarity to the northern flying squirrel, the Humboldt’s flying squirrel looks a lot like the Northern Flying Squirrel. However, it’s much smaller and darker than its northern cousin, so it’s difficult to tell them apart. Until recently, scientists weren’t sure if the two species were related because they had similar appearances.
The Humboldt’s flying squirrel shares its habitat with the northern flying one, but their ranges overlap. This overlap could provide interesting comparisons with the eastern Canadian population. Scientists looked at mitochondrial DNA to differentiate the two species, and there was no evidence of hybridization. Because of the cryptic nature of these species, these findings may prove valuable in future studies. It’s certainly worth the research effort.
The Humboldt’s flying squirrel is one of the most recently discovered species of Flying Squirrel. Formerly considered part of the Northern flying squirrel, it has become an important part of the ecosystem. The Humboldt’s flying squirrel is a critical prey for several species of conservation concern. These mammals also play a role in fungus dispersal, as well as the health of young trees.
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.