Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus )
Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans)


What Do They Look Like?

  • Color: Representing the two native species of flying squirrel in North America, Northern and Southern flying squirrels both have gray-brown fur on their back and sides and gray or white fur on their under-belly.
  • Size: The northern species is larger (10-12 inches long) and has a bit darker coloration than the southern species, which is only 8-10 inches long.
  • Eyes: Their eyes are large and black, suitable for good night vision.

How Did I Get Flying Squirrels?

These mammals prefer to spend their time in the treetops, so any lawn with plenty of vegetation may encounter an infestation. Yards also provide many types of food in the pests’ diet, including nuts, insects, fungi, flowers, and bark. This makes neighborhoods a prime nesting spot and flying squirrels are particularly difficult to prevent entry inside attics since they are quite adept at getting through very small openings that are usually hard to detect.

How Did They Get Inside?
In addition to an unprotected chimney opening, sites commonly used to invade the attic are:

  • Behind gutters and downspouts
  • Cracks and gaps
  • Gable vents or attic ventilation fans and ridge vents
  • Small holes

How Serious Are Flying Squirrels?

These nocturnal pests can be very bothersome at night. The noise they create from scurrying back and forth in attics often keeps residents from getting restful sleep. Additionally, flying squirrels are associated with the transmission of typhus fever (albeit rarely) and is the only known mammal other than humans to do so.

Other more likely problems from flying squirrels include the infestations of mites, ticks, and fleas found in their fur or around the places where they nest. This is especially troublesome if the animals break into homes to live in attics or chimneys. Due to their small size, Southern flying squirrels can also pose threats to birds nesting in birdhouses.

How Do I Get Rid of Flying Squirrels?

Trapping is not an effective, long-term preventive technique because flying squirrels will re-populate any structure that does not also include exclusion work. Traps should be inspected daily and require relocation or termination of the animal. Therefore, most homeowners decide to leave trapping programs to their pest management professional. If taking the DIY route, Do not remove trapped squirrels through openings like fireplaces or dumbwaiters. This may lead to their escape into the house and prolong the infestation.

What Professional Widlife Removal Companies Do
The first step in flying squirrel control is to be sure what pest is actually infesting the area. The next step is preventing access by sealing or screening their entry points into the attic or chimney. Once their ability to enter is resolved, using a one-way door to evict squirrels and traps to remove them is the next step. The last step is to modify the habitat to help reduce factors that attract the pests to the property.

Your local wildlife control technician is trained to help manage flying squirrels and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Prevention tips

The prevention and control of flying squirrels is a very challenging job, and it is wise to seek out the advice and recommendations of your pest management professional. However, if the homeowner decides to exercise prevention, some useful tips are:

  • Legal Concerns: Some subspecies of flying squirrels are endangered animals. As with any wildlife species, it is mandatory to be familiar and precisely follow all local, state, and federal wildlife regulations. Failure to do so will likely result in a fine.
  • Inspection: Frequent inspection of the exterior of the house to identify any possible flying squirrel entrance sites into the attic.
  • Install a chimney cap: These devices can prevent access for the pests.
  • One way door cages: Should they gain access to the attic, use a one-way door cage. This device allows the flying squirrel to exit the access hole or gap, but does not allow the animal to re-enter.
  • Trim or remove tree branches that hang over the roof: Since flying squirrels can glide, trimming or removing limbs may not totally prevent them getting on a roof. However, removing limbs will lessen the chances a they will glide to your roof.
  • Scare tactics: Using artificial owls, scare balloons and noise devises are unlikely to completely repel flying squirrels from your property or attic space.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

General Facts
Flying squirrels are:

  • Active throughout the year
  • Do not hibernate but slow their activities in cold weather
  • Nocturnal
  • Very sociable and will co-habitate together with others of the same species.

Geographic Range
The southern flying squirrel resides throughout North America, in areas of southern Canada and as far ranging as southern parts of Florida. These mammals lives in areas around Minnesota and in eastern Texas. The other prevalent type type in North America, the northern flying squirrel, lives in warmer, southern parts of Alaska and northern Canada and as far south as Tennessee. They also live along the Pacific coast.

Where Do They Live?
Flying squirrels prefer to live in evergreen areas filled with deciduous trees, mostly of nut-bearing varieties. Their lairs are natural tree cavities, old woodpecker holes and abandoned nests of birds and other squirrels. Flying squirrels live about 4-7 years in their natural habitat.

What Do They Eat?
Flying squirrels eat mixed varieties of foods, both plants and animals. The southern flying squirrel is carnivorous since it will feed on eggs, small birds, and meat. The preferred diets of both species include:

  • Fruit
  • Insects
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

When feeding on tree nuts, flying squirrels will make one opening in the shell and remove the nutmeat. Other squirrels and chipmunks break the nut into several pieces before eating the nutmeat.


The average northern flying squirrels mates once in a calendar year. Southern flying squirrels often mate twice. The young for both species are able to care for themselves from the time they are about two months old.

Do They Fly?

While called flying squirrels, the mammals actually glide instead of fly and aren’t technically capable of powered flight like other flying creatures like birds or bats. A special membrane that runs between the front and back legs enables the mammal to glide mid-jump until they reach a landing site. This behavior is valuable since they can glide from tree to tree without traveling on the ground where they would be more likely to be captured by a predator.