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Winter Survival Strategy of Flying Squirrels


During the winter flying squirrels often huddle together in large communal nests, sometimes with populations numbering over two dozen squirrels, in an effort to keep warm.  Two years ago 22 of these nocturnal creatures spent the majority of the winter in my log cabin, doing just that.  Although flying squirrels do not hibernate, if temperatures become too severe the squirrels will enter a state of torpor until temperatures return to normal.

13 responses

  1. Kathryn Connell

    You have an uncanny way of writing about things I have JUST seen or will in a day or two after you mention them! We had two flying squirrels at our bird feeder two days before you wrote about them. Incredibly cute little fellows.

    Quick question – who is the long legged, sort of long shield shaped body and long antennae guy that I see in my house frequently over the winter? He’s a very slow mover.

    I totally enjoy your stories. Kathryn

    February 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    • Hi Kathryn,
      I believe you are referring to the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, which is totally harmless. I’ve written a short essay about this insect on page 260 of my book, Naturally Curious, which also has a close-up photograph of one.

      February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

  2. John DeWitt

    I think the flying squirrels have a good idea, energy efficiency at its (almost) best…….the true hibernaters are the best.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm

  3. Cindy B.

    Twenty two flying squirrels wintering in your cabin! I need more. How did you know there were that many? Did they come into the living space? Do you have lots of fun stories?

    Hoping to attend your March talk at Silk Farm in Concord.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    • Hi Cindy,
      I knew I had something live in my house, because every morning the little nicknacks on my fireplace mantle would be on the floor…I finally saw the first culprit scurry across the mantle. I THINK there were 22, because that’s how many I live-trapped…but there are some who feel I may have just been trapping the same two or three squirrels night after night…I should have marked them! I do have a number of fun stories — if you make it to my Concord program, you’ll hear a few!

      February 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm

  4. Kathryn Connell

    That’s him! Thanks! I just knew you would know.
    Where do you do most of your searching and finding? You seem to have an incredible variety of areas near you – ponds, wetlands, forests…. I enjoy it all. Thanks so much!

    February 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • I live in a wooded area, Kathryn, with very few wetlands nearby, so I have certain ponds, etc. that I visit on a regular basis. It is amazing, however, how much you can find within a short distance of home — a field, patch of woods and a pond and I’m all set! I’ve always dreamed of living in a small house on a beaver pond, as that is my favorite habitat, should you hear of one!

      February 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

  5. Henry Holland

    Hi Mary,

    This Holland family sends our best. We enjoy your observations and can relate to many of them. As we live in the woods as well, flying squirrels have also taken residence. In fact, Krystal awoke to one sitting on a chair in the bedroom during the middle of the night. Racoons are everywhere but not int the house (yet).

    Hope all is well. Nick (your favorite) sends his best also. Take care.

    Henry Holland

    February 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

  6. Meade Cadot

    Another documented strategy–a communal pile of nuts are gathered and stored in winter quarters–but each squirrel mouths the nut it stores imparting a scent which proclaims
    which nuts are his/hers. They are communal but not communits!

    February 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    • That is incredibly interesting information! And your last comment is priceless, Meade!

      February 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  7. Henry Holland

    Hi Mary,

    Our family sends you our best. As we live in the woods as well, flyers like yours like our house. In fact, one was perched on a chair in our bedroom one night. Kyrstal was not happy. We have chased them out of bird houses but rarely see them fly. We don’t stay up to try that.

    Did you get my previous comment? Nick (your favorite) and I send our best. I enjoy your blogs.

    Henry Holland

    February 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  8. k

    thanks this helped me in a project!

    April 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

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