Flying squirrels are one of the two species of arboreal squirrels commonly found in Georgia (the other is the gray squirrel) that account for most of the annoyance and damage that squirrels cause.
Flying squirrels can't really "fly" because they don't have real wings. They have skin stretched like webbing between their legs that allows them to glide with impressive accuracy from a higher place to a lower one; but they can't flap their "wings" rapidly enough to take off from the ground like birds or bats can. Their "wings" are more like the "wing suits" that base jumpers wear that allow them to steer, but not to gain altitude.
That being said, flying squirrels use their "wing suits" more skillfully than any human. They can glide very impressively and are able to travel considerable distances, with remarkable accuracy, generally landing within inches of their intended target. They use this skill to annoy us by gliding from high trees onto the sides of our homes, and from there getting into the attics and soffits.
As is the case with wildlife in general, flying squirrels can cause quite a nuisance, as well as a safety and health hazard, once they get into a home. Like all rodents, they're compulsive gnawers; and they'll readily chew on anything stored in the attic. When they start gnawing on electrical wires, they can create a serious fire hazard. They can also cause communications outages if they chew on telephone or cable television wiring.
Flying squirrels, like all rodents, also create health risks when they move into human homes. They have parasites that can spread typhus and other diseases, and their droppings can harbor disease-causing fungi. They can also stain and stink up the place with their urine, and the stains and odor are difficult to remove.
The flying squirrel's gliding abilities also make it a challenging animal to control. They don't need to climb up walls (although they can), nor do they need tree branches that hang directly over the house. All they need is a tree or a taller building in the general vicinity of your home, and they'll glide right on in.
Flying squirrels are rodents in the family Sciuridae, which includes all squirrels. There are two species in North America, the Northern and Southern flying squirrels, which are so similar that even biologists have a hard time telling them apart. The ones we get around Atlanta and throughout most of the Eastern United States are the Southern ones, (Glaucomy volans).
A flying squirrel's diet consists mainly of nuts, seeds, fruits, mushrooms and other fungi, and sometimes insects, slugs, snails, bird eggs, nestlings, and other small animals. They hoard nuts during the warmer months and stash them away for the winter, usually accumulating several thousand by late fall.
The young are born in the spring in litters ranging from one to six young. The young are born hairless, with eyes and ears closed (their eyes don't open until they've several weeks old). Juveniles start leaving the nest at about 40 days of age, and usually are weaned in two months. By six months of age, the young are fully independent.
Flying squirrel control is one of the more challenging wildlife control jobs. Remember that these are animals who can glide quite well, so they don't need any way to climb up the side of a house. They also have much slimmer bodies than other squirrels -- streamlining is a necessity for animals that fly -- which means they can get into very small holes and openings.
All this means that sealing flying squirrels out of a house requires a very experienced technician who knows how to find -- and seal -- every single possible entry point in the house. In many cases, it also requires specialized equipment like long ladders and lift trucks that most people don't have lying around in the garage.
One thing we should mention is that there's no such thing as a "flying squirrel exterminator." Like gray squirrels, flying squirrels are considered nuisance wildlife, not "pests." They cannot legally be poisoned. They must be humanely removed from a home in such a way as not to intentionally cause them harm.
That's fine by us. At Rid-A-Critter, We control flying squirrels using only safe, humane, non-chemical methods that focus on making your home animal-proof. This is not only a more earth-friendly, environmentally approach to flying squirrel control, but it's also the most effective way to keep flying squirrels (and other critters) out of your home permanently.
If you need help with flying squirrels or any animal problem, please call us for an on-site consultation.
Here are some randomly-selected pictures taken at flying squirrel removal and exclusion jobs in and around Atlanta that we've done over the years.
Rid-A-Critter has the tools and personnel to handle any flying squirrel control job, so please call us today.