northern flying squirrel

(Glaucomys sabrinus)

Conservation Status
northern flying squirrel
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Northern flying squirrel is one of just two flying squirrels in North America. It occurs throughout Canada. In the United States it occurs in the east from Maine west to Minnesota and south to North Carolina, and in the west from Washington east to Montana and south to California. It is absent from the Great Plains and the desert southwest. In Minnesota it is restricted to northeastern half of the state south to the northern Metro area. It is found in coniferous and mixed forests, especially near swamps or streams. It is seldom seen because it remains in its nest until deep dusk and is active only at night.

The adult is 10¾ to 13½ in length. The head and body is 5½ to 5 (140 to 144 mm) long, the tail 3½ to 4½ (89 to 114 mm) long. The eyes are large and black. The skull has 22 teeth. The fur on the upper part of the body is dense, glossy, and olive-brown. The fur on the belly is white at the tips, lead gray at the base. A fur-covered, folded layer of loose skin (patagium) extends along each side of the body from the wrist of the foreleg to the ankle of the hind leg. Among mammals, only flying squirrels and bats have this feature. The tail is broad, flat, and rounded at the end. It is the same color as the back at the base and gets darker approaching the tip. The fur on the tail extends outward at the sides creating a horizontal plane.




Total length: 10¾ to 13½

Head and body: 5½ to 5 (140 to 144 mm)

Tail: 3½ to 4½ (89 to 114 mm)






Similar Species

  Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is a little smaller and weighs much less. The fur on the back is grayer. The fur on the belly is white all the way to the base. The tail is paler below. The tip of the tail is darker.  

Coniferous and mixed forests, especially near swamps or streams




Northern flying squirrel is active at night. It remains it its nest until deep dusk.




4 years


Life Cycle


It nests in a hole in a large tree.




Mostly fungi and lichens, but also insects, nuts, seeds, fruit, and buds


Distribution Map



6, 15, 24, 29, 30, 72, 76.




Common though rarely seen

  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placental mammals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires (primates, rodents, and allies)  
  Grandorder Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Sciuromorpha (squirrels)  


Sciuridae (chipmunks, marmots, squirrels)  


Sciurinae (tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and relatives)  
  Tribe Pteromyini (flying squirrels)  


Glaucomys (American flying squirrels, New World flying squirrels)  

Subordinate Taxa


Alaska coast flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus zaphaeus)

Atnarko flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus reductus)

Bachman flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus murinauralis)

Bangs flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus bangsi)

broad-footed flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus latipes)

California coast flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus stephensi)

Carolina northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus canescens)

Cascade flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuliginosus)

Klamath flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus klamathensis)

Laborador flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus makkovikensis)

Mearns flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus lucifugus)

northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus sabrinus)

Okanagan flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus columbiensis)

Prince of Wales flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus goodwini)

Richardson flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus alpinus)

San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus)

Sierra flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus lascivus)

Virginia flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus)

yellow-bellied flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus flaviventris)

Yukon flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus yukonensis)




Pteromys canadensis

Sciurus hudsonius

Sciurus sabrinus


Common Names


Hudson Bay flying squirrel

northern flying squirrel












In some mammals, the membrane between the forelimb and the abdomen that assists in flying or gliding. In Lepidoptera, one of a pair of hair-covered, sausage-shaped, scale-like plates on the thorax that cover the wing bases. Plural: patagia.

Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this mammal.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Molly and Robert Power


Made a home in a birdhouse!

    northern flying squirrel      

Ramona Abrego

    northern flying squirrel      








Visitor Videos

Share your video of this mammal.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Northern Flying Squirrel (Sciuridae: Glaucomys sabrinus) Close-up
Carl Barrentine

Nov 3, 2011

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (03 November 2011).

  Northern Flying Squirrel (Sciuridae: Glaucomys sabrinus) Close-up of Tail
Carl Barrentine

Nov 3, 2011

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (03 November 2011).




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this mammal.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.

Warren Tinker


Location: Lavell Township approximately 10 miles South of Hibbing, MN 55746 airport.

I moved here in 1966 and this is the first time that I’ve seen this squirrel.

I stayed up late (10 pm) watching a movie on tv and I kept hearing a small odd noise outside my sliding glass doors.

I have a bird block feeder hanging from the eave of the house for birds and that was where he was.

It was windy with a light snow and he was hanging on to the block cage and having a bite to eat.

I’ve had trouble with racoons and bears over the years and this is one area that they cannot reach.

The squirrel was here for at least 30 minutes. A flashlight did not bother him at all. I only looked long enough to see what it was.


  Molly and Robert Power

Location: Albany MN

northern flying squirrel

  Ramona Abrego

Location: Washington County

northern flying squirrel







Created: 9/7/2020

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.