Flying squirrels, or members of the taxonomic tribe Pteromyinae, belong to the same family as arboreal and ground squirrels but come with some major differences from their bushy-tailed cousins. Like arboreal squirrels, they hang round in trees but unlike their scurrying and climbing rodent relatives, they travel in style. These tiny, nocturnal creatures glide from branch to branch with the aid of webbed flaps of skin extending from their hands and feet, running along their flanks. Adorable to look at, these critters aren’t guests you want in your home; they can cause major damage in a very short amount of time.
Flying Squirrels Have You Looking Up?
Are you having flying squirrel problems? Call Critter Control today at (574) 825-1079 in South Bend and Elkhart, or (260) 632-5106 in the Fort Wayne area and our trained staff will be there to help.
What Do Flying Squirrels Look Like?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that flying squirrels are small. Most species measure 8 to 12 inches, which includes their flat tails that are used like rudders to help steer their direction when in flight. It’s also no exaggeration to say they’re cute: their wide-eyed appearance and soft gray or brown coat with a lighter underbelly makes them so attractive that some people keep them as pets.
Because of their nocturnal nature, it’s likely you’ll notice subtle signs of a flying squirrel problem long before you ever spot one in your home. Their droppings – tiny black or brown pellets – are similar to other rodent feces. You may hear high-pitched chirps as they communicate with one another or notice scratching or gnawing sounds in your walls or attic.
Where Do Flying Squirrels Live?
Although there are many species of flying squirrel, those found in North America tend to make their homes in older hardwood and conifer forests. When plenty of trees are present, flying squirrels can quickly get from one place to another by gliding from tree top to tree top — they’ve been recorded gliding distances as long as a football field’s length. On the ground, they’re awkward and clumsy, moving slowly and without much adeptness. Because of this, flying squirrels are more of a problem for homeowners with forested property.
Most flying squirrels stick to the outdoors, and their nests can be found in natural holes such as those found in tree trunks. When living close to people, they nest in birdhouses or shed eaves. When these critters do make their way indoors through cracks, broken windows or holes in siding, they tend to nest in unoccupied attics or crawl spaces or in the walls of a home, garage or shed.
What Kind of Damage Do Flying Squirrels Cause?
Flying squirrels don’t usually pose an immediate safety hazard to pets or people but they can cause injuries in an attempt to escape. They’ve also been known to eat bird eggs and young, which can be a serious problem if you have feathered pets in your home.
The danger to home inhabitants comes from their droppings, which are linked to the spread of typhus. An undetected or out of control flying squirrel problem can quickly lead to the spread of this disease. Although these critters can carry ticks, mites, fleas and bot fly larvae, most are species-specific and won’t bother you or a cat or dog that lives in your home.
Flying squirrels cause a large amount of property damage with just their urine and feces, but also because they need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing teeth in good shape. Wires, structural supports, walls and fixtures aren’t safe from their habits. They’ll also pull insulation for use in their nests or scrape at window or door frames in an attempt to find an exit from your home.
Dealing with Flying Squirrels
If you notice the signs of a flying squirrel in your home, rest assured there’s not just one, but several. Because they nest in communities, there can be dozens of these critters in your home at any one time.
Dealing with flying squirrel activity includes securing your home to keep them out. Cracks or gaps need to be sealed and broken windows and other potential entry points should be repaired. Vents and chimneys also need to be closed to prevent the entry of these unwanted pests.
Our wildlife control experts can safely and humanely trap and remove flying squirrels from your home, while working with you to identify possible points of entry to deter future problems. If you’re dealing with unwanted animal roommates, no matter how adorable they might look, give us a call at (574) 825-1079 for help.