|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Greetings, www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/flysqu.html spot.colorado.edu/~halloran/sq_sofly.html The water requirements of flying squirrels are not well understood. They obviously obtain some water from their food. Free-standing water is consumed when available, but their range is not limited to areas with available surface water. Where surface water is not available, squirrels appear to be physiologically adapted and get sufficient water from food, dew and rains. They probably make use of water that temporarily collects in tree cavities. Southern flying squirrels are primarily vegetarian, but will occasionally eat animal foods. Nuts, primarily acorns and hickory nuts, are preferred foods and make up the bulk of the diet. Flying squirrels will also consume various seeds, fruits, berries, mushrooms, buds, flower blossoms and tree bark. Animal items that occasionally may be eaten include insects, bird eggs and nestlings, small nestling mammals, carrion, and adult shrews and mice. Nuts are gathered and stored as winter approaches. The shortening of day length rather than temperature triggers the urge to store food. Nuts are buried individually or are cached in nest cavities or other cracks and crevices in trees. Several hundred nuts can be stored in a night. In good nut-production years, the stored nuts carry the squirrels through the winter and even into spring and summer. Nuts are eaten in a characteristic pattern. Flying squirrels usually cut a fairly smooth circular or oval opening on the side or end of a nut. On larger, heavy-shelled nuts they will make a second opening or remove an entire end in a single cut. Other tree squirrels usually crush nuts without leaving the shells intact. The feeding pattern of flying squirrels more closely resembles that of deer mice or white-footed mice, which also inhabit cavities and nest boxes in southeastern Nebraska, but these species usually do not eat large, heavy-shelled nuts, and their tooth marks are finer. Flying squirrels will accept a "helping hand" by visiting bird feeders where they consume seeds, suet and peanut butter. Because flying squirrels are nocturnal and are not valued as a game species, they have not been studied as extensively as other tree squirrels. Much of our knowledge about flying squirrels has been gained from observing them in captivity. Flying squirrels are doing well without human assistance in areas of their range where habitat is abundant. Management practices have rarely been implemented specifically to benefit flying squirrels. Flying squirrels readily use nest boxes placed for their benefit or for other species. Nest boxes have been used in Nebraska and other areas in attempts to determine the status and distribution of flying squirrels. By periodically checking nest boxes and capturing and tagging the inhabitants, considerable information can be gathered. The number of squirrels using an area and their survival can be estimated, and movements can be monitored. Nest boxes can be used as a management tool when a shortage of cavities exists. Such a situation can occur in a young timberstand where trees are old enough to produce mast, but cavities are in short supply. It would be interesting to try and observe them to see if they are eating the hummbird nectar, but since they are nocturnal that might prove to be a problem. Check out the following sites for more information on flying squirrels spot.colorado.edu/~halloran/sq_sofly.html www.squirrel-rehab.org/squirrels/photo.html www.animalnetwork.com/critters/profiles/ flyingsquirrel/default.asp wildwnc.org/af/southernflyingsquirrel.html Thanks for taking the time to send in a question to the Mad Sci Network June Wingert Associate Scientist A Biotechnology firm in Houston Texas
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