For the appropriate person, flying squirrels make charming pet rodents. Although southern flying squirrels are the tiniest of tree squirrels, their northern counterparts (a bigger species) are frequently kept as pets. Southern flying squirrels are predominantly nocturnal, and their wide, spherical eyes aid with night vision. They live in trees and fly from one to the next using a parachute-like flap of hairy skin between their legs. If a pouch or pocket is provided, southern flying squirrels will spend time with you, and if reared from a young age, they can build a strong bond with you.
Common Name: Southern flying squirrel
Scientific Name: Glaucomys volans
Adult Size: 8 to 10 inches long, including the tail; between 2 to 4 ounces
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years in captivity
Can You Own a Pet Southern Flying Squirrel?
Check your state's laws to see if keeping a southern flying squirrel as a pet is permissible, as regulations change over time. Even if it is legal to possess one where you reside, you may be needed to get additional permits or papers to prove your ownership. Before getting a southern flying squirrel as a pet, make sure you understand all legal requirements. The last thing you want is to have your pet taken away because of unlawful ownership.
When it comes to morally having a southern flying squirrel, a lot depends on how you obtain your pet and whether or not you can properly care for it. Aside from ensuring that you get your squirrel from a trustworthy breeder, you need also ensure that you can supply it with all it requires to not only live but thrive in your care. This involves everything from your time and attention to your financial capacity to purchase the items you require. Additionally, other pets (particularly cats) can harm or even kill southern flying squirrels, so do not purchase one if you have a naughty pet.
Southern Flying Squirrel Behavior and Temperament
If purchased at an early age, southern flying squirrels create a deep attachment with their owners, similar to sugar gliders. They are normally quite content to climb and play on their owner, almost as if you were a human tree. They'll even look for safety and comfort in your clothing's sleeves or pockets.
Bonding pouches are important for establishing a close bond between an owner and a southern flying squirrel, and they are frequently used throughout the squirrel's life. Southern flying squirrels may spend the whole day napping in an owner's pouch or pocket, despite being generally nocturnal species. If you want to keep your pet linked to you, anticipate your pet to want to be with you all day. If you can't make this time commitment, acquire two squirrels to keep your pet company.
Squirrels that have not been hand-reared or handled extensively may bite if startled, and they are quick and shy. A wild, adult southern flying squirrel may be virtually hard to tame—in fact, they're unusual to observe in the wild since they move so swiftly and are so timid.
Because southern flying squirrels are tiny, they may get by with a little cage. They will, however, require plenty of freedom to run and climb in order to survive. Because vertical space is more valuable than floor space, a tall cage is ideal. Sugar glider enclosures can work well as long as the mesh spacing is tight (no more than 1/2-inch by 1-inch). A handmade cage is also effective for some owners.
Southern flying squirrels are terrific chewers, so make sure they can't get out of their cage by biting it (wire or metal is preferred). A 2-foot-by-2-foot floor space is sufficient, and a minimum height of 3 feet is required (but up to 5 or 6 feet tall is even better).
Provide branches for climbing and gnawing in your squirrel's cage. Climbing and playing can also be done with cotton ropes strung in the cage. A running wheel is a great way to get some exercise. Because of its long tails, a solid-surface wheel is the safest option for flying squirrels.
Specific Substrate Needs
Provide nesting material in the form of face tissues or paper towels (avoid anything with threads that might wrap around a leg and cause harm), and fill the bottom of their cage with rodent bedding or litter.
What Do Southern Flying Squirrels Eat & Drink?
Southern flying squirrels consume a wide range of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects in the wild. They thrive in captivity on a diversified diet of nuts (pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, acorns, and hickory nuts), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), birdseed mixtures, hamster pellets, mealworms, moths, and waxworms, as well as a range of fresh vegetables (corn, sweet potatoes, mushrooms).
In captivity, feed your pet 1 spoonful of food each morning and night. Because squirrels are foragers, you may put food in a few of little cups in locations where you know they don't defecate often so they can find it. After 12 hours, remove any uneaten food. You can supplement their food with hard-boiled egg or chicken tidbits on occasion.
Because southern flying squirrels are prone to calcium insufficiency, supplement their diet with calcium and vitamin D3 (essential for calcium metabolism). Limit your intake of phosphorous-rich foods, as it binds calcium in the body. Along with a mineral block, including a calcium block or cuttlebone. Because their teeth are constantly growing, these dietary additives also serve as tooth filers.
When you obtain a baby squirrel, it is typically not entirely weaned. You'll need to feed them goat's milk or a puppy milk replacement formula three times a day by syringe or eyedropper until they're fully weaned (around 6 to 8 weeks of age). Adult southern flying squirrels may have difficulty using sipper tubes on water bottles, so keep a shallow bowl of clean water in your squirrel's cage at all times.
Common Health Problems
Southern flying squirrels are immune to all known illnesses and do not require routine immunizations. Calcium shortage is prevalent in them, but a calcium block in the cage can help avoid this from happening.
Southern flying squirrels require a lot of exploration and activity, but because they're so little, they can perform much of it in their own cage. They do, however, benefit from time outside their cage, as long as they are constantly observed to avoid damage. In-cage toys and games are another simple method to keep your squirrel entertained.
Grooming is important for healthy southern flying squirrels, and a lack of grooming might suggest other problems with your pet. However, you should never bathe or immerse your squirrel in water because they can quickly suffer from shock or hypothermia. If you need to clean your squirrel for any reason, use baby wipes or baby powder to spot clean them.
Training Your Southern Flying Squirrel
Expect little from your souther flying squirrel when it comes to training. You won't be able to teach your squirrel much beyond being comfortable in your company and perhaps snuggling into your clothing. Treats may be used as an incentive to get your squirrel used to being handled and out of their cage.
Purchasing Your Southern Flying Squirrel
Make sure you have a local exotic veterinarian who can treat your pet in the event of an emergency before purchasing a southern flying squirrel. Exotic veterinarians are sometimes a good place to start looking for local, verified breeders. If you live in a region where these squirrels are common, don't try to get one from the wild. It is almost always prohibited to do so.
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Are southern flying squirrels hard to take care of?
Southern flying squirrels are a fantastic choice for inexperienced pet owners seeking for their first exotic pet since they are not difficult to care for. You should be alright as long as you follow their basic care requirements and keep a careful check on them while they are not in the cage.
How long do southern flying squirrels live as pets?
Southern flying squirrels may survive in captivity for 10 to 15 years with good care and attention. This is far longer than their normal natural lifetime, which is closer to 5 years.
Do southern flying squirrels do better in their natural habitats than in a domesticated one?
It depends—with the right care and attention, southern flying squirrels may thrive in captivity and avoid many of the problems that they face in the wild (predators, food shortages, etc.). However, they are wild creatures, and even the most ideal conditions cannot recreate life in the wild.