Getting to know my flying squirrel
Flying squirrels are sometimes confused with sugar gliders, when they have several notable differences. I chose them for several reasons: Firstly, they have an easier, although still varied, diet. They can be kept alone, if necessary whereas sugar gliders cannot. They do not have the gliders strong musk nor do they bark loudly at odd times.
At 9 weeks old, after a very long time trying to find them - I brought my first flying squirrel home and named him Thistle. Initially, we kept him in a smaller cage to make bonding easier. The first few nights were disappointing, my squirrel was shy! He’d poke his head up briefly but didn’t want to explore at all. I coaxed him out with pecans but he’d snatch them from my fingers and retreat back into the safety of his bonding pouch.
After a week, this all changed. Suddenly my squirrel was everywhere, exploring every nook of my house. I soon learnt to be suspicious of him stopping still for too long - although only after he’d chewed some wooden shelves, destroyed some cardboard sleeves of DVDs, and chewed entirely through the cable that gave me internet! It was fascinating watching him glide, and I learnt to be careful as I walked as he’d race across the floor, clamber up my legs and then launch himself back off my shoulder. Initially, he needed to learn how to do this - and of course this meant sometimes he missed!
This now meant instead of my shy squirrel, I had a demanding one - who squeaked insistently if his cage door wasn’t opened by a certain time. He’d come to me for pecans, or just to climb up me - but his main aim was to explore everywhere. We soon learnt where to squirrel proof and kept the bathroom and bedroom door closed. The former has the risk of him getting stuck, and drowning in the toilet bowl and the latter was decided after it took over an hour to retrieve him from under our bed.
I’ve seen some websites claim flying squirrels as ‘pocket pets’ and I think you need to question anywhere that uses that term. My squirrel clan has since increased and I wouldn’t be without them, but my experience with them to date suggests that they are too full of energy to stay still too long. They are very much an animal you learn to share and adapt your life to - and not one that fits in neatly with yours!
Christine, of Crittery Exotics
Crittery Exotics was setup in 2007 to provide a useful resource regarding common and exotic rodents and small mammals. It is run by volunteers in their spare time around work and family life.About Crittery