THE ULTIMATE PEST
Glaucomys volans; Glaucomys sabrinus
Species: Southern flying squirrel ( Glaucomys volans), and the Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)
Size: 9-11 inches long, the Southern is the slightly smaller of the two.
Weight: 2-4 ounces
Color: Northern flying squirrels have light brown upper body fur and a white belly. Southern flying squirrels have a grayish brown body, white belly and black ring around their eyes.
Range: Southern flying squirrels are found from southern Canada south to southern Florida, west to Minnesota and eastern Texas. Northern flying squirrels are found from southeastern Alaska and northern Canada south to Tennessee and west to the Pacific coast.
Reproduction: Females of both species mate in early spring, and about 5 weeks later, give birth to three to five tiny, blind young. Southern flying squirrels may have two litters in summer, but this rarely occurs in Northern flying squirrel females.
Habits: Northern flying squirrels usually live near streams and rivers. They build their nests in tree cavities in forests full of wood rot, frost cracking, and leftover woodpecker and carpenter ant holes. Females breed with only one male and will stay with that male year after year.
More aggressive than their northern cousins, the Southern flying squirrels produce several high pitch sounds used for navigation, communication and mating. Females breed with different males and after mating the male has nothing to do with the female or the young.
Lifespan: Though their life expectancy is only about six years in the wild, flying squirrels often live between 10 and 15 years in captivity.
Falling with Style: Depending on the air current, flying squirrels may glide 150 feet or more from a height of 60 feet. They can turn easily at right angles while gliding and control the direction of their glide by tensing and turning their legs and body and flapping their tail. As a flying squirrel approaches its landing, the squirrel flips its tail up and holds its body back to slow the glide down, giving the squirrel ample time to position its feet for grasping the tree trunk. Flying
land face up and often run up the tree immediately after landing.
What if we could design the ultimate pest, one that would made us money and drive everyone else insane? What if you could design a pest that would drive any homeowner to the point that they would shoot holes in their ceilings or tear down entire wall to get rid of it? If I could design the perfect pest, I would make it run around all night long, causing the homeowners to lose sleep. I would make it move into the house in the winter and leave in the summer-only to
come back just
when the homeowner thinks it finally gone.
Setting traps would be almost worthless unless you were very good at it, and even then more of the pest would return the following year. They could squeeze through a hole the size of your thumbnail, and through a linear crack the width of your pinky finger. Even worse, the entry hole would have little, if any, chewing damage, so it would be hard to find the main entryway.
I would make this pest toilet in one spot over and over again, day after day. It would have a strong odor and stain the ceilings and soffits. The feces would look like bat guano, just to confuse both homeowners and wildlife professionals.
I would make this pest omnivorous, so if the homeowners removed the bird feeders outside, the pest could still feed on the mice living in the house.
I would make it lightening fast and loud, so seeing it would be difficult and hearing it would seem like an entire army was living in the attic. If they were to catch a glimpse of one, the homeowners would find that’s it’s multi-colored, so it’s difficult to identify or describe-except for its really big eyes, which make it seem larger than it really is.
Jumping 100 to 150 feet would be no problem for this pest, so cutting down trees would be absolutely useless.
And, of course, I would make it so that only wildlife professionals with serious experience could effectively catch them.
They already exist
In my book, the flying squirrel is the ultimate pest. Next to the bat, this is the pest that pays my mortgage. It’s the pest that I have spent the last decade studying at night, strapped to trees, waiting for them to come by. These are the little guys I have spent countless nights anchored to roofs to observe them during exclusions. I have sat in an attic all night long and have had them run up my pants legs.
They are the ultimate pest, and I am thankful for them. Yes, flying squirrels can pose a serious challenge, but don’t be discouraged. If you can do a bat exclusion, you can do a flying squirrel exclusion. The basic idea is to find the main entryway and put a one-way door over it. Then seal up the rest of the house. For flying squirrels, you want to seal up all holes bigger than your thumbnail and any linear crack
your pinky finger. You can use any type of barrier, but the key is to use something that they cannot get through. Remember that bats will not chew to get back in the way a flying squirrel will. I have heard that “flyers” will not chew through barriers or electrical wires. That is false. I have seen them chew electrical wires just like corn on the cob. However, they chew in such a hyper state that they never sit still long enough to make it through the wire like mice
or red and gray squirrels will.
Attention to detail is crucial. Your can seal up an entire house and leave one small hole in the hardest-to-reach spot and they will find it.
During an exclusion, when they first go out of the one-way door and then can’t get back in, flying squirrels start to search the entire roof line for another way back in. The lowest point I have found them to re-enter is from six feet above ground.
Give the entire exclusion process 10 days. If symptoms are still occurring after that, the flying squirrels have found their way back in. For you, that means it’s time to start searching for the new entryway. This is where a lot of professionals will start to pull their hair out.