Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flying squirrels

Maybe you already know that flying squirrels don't really fly. Maybe you even know that bats are the only mammal to have achieved this feat under their own power.

But do you know whether flying squirrels use their flattened tails as rudders? If you guess yes, you guess wrong. The squirrel launches itself from high in a tree, spreads its four legs, which stretches its skin flaps, and sails at a downward angle. It steers by raising or lowering a foreleg--dropping the right leg, for example, turns the animal to the right. The tail acts as a stabilizer rather than a rudder as you might logically assume.

A flying squirrel not in its natural habitat.
 Read more about flying squirrels and other denizens of Pacific Northwest mountains in River-Walking Songbirds & Singing Coyotes.


  1. What? Flying squirrels don't really fly? I suppose now you're going to tell me the Easter bunny doesn't lay eggs. Nope. Don't wanna hear it. (Puts fingers in ears) La, la, la, la....

  2. Rocket J Squirrel flies. I saw it on TV. He gets fan mail from flounders, too. And when a penguin dies, all the other penguins gather around singing, "Freeze a jolly good fellow!" and then they kick him in the ice hole.

    La,la,la,la, . . .

  3. I didn't realize we had these in the NW. I'm gonna be watching for them now. Thanks - great blog!