A few mammals can glide through the trees, but they do not actually fly (like birds and bats). They have a membrane of skin on either side of their body.
The Siberian flying squirrel ranges from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east.
Prior to the 21st century, the evolutionary history of the flying squirrel was frequently debated. This debate was clarified greatly as a result of two recent molecular studies. These studies found support that flying squirrels originated 18–20 million years ago, are monophyletic, and have a sister relationship with tree squirrels. There are four hypotheses as to why gliding has evolved in mammals: economical locomotion, foraging optimization, evasion of predators, and control of landing forces.
The life expectancy of flying squirrels in the wild is about six years, but flying squirrels can live up to fifteen years in zoos. The mortality rate in young flying squirrels is high because of predators and diseases. Predators of flying squirrels include tree snakes, raccoons, owls, martens, fishers, coyotes, bobcats, and feral cats. In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) is a common predator of flying squirrels.
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Flying squirrels are usually nocturnal, since they are not adept at escaping birds of prey that hunt during the daytime. Flying squirrels eat according to what kind of an environment they are in. They are omnivorous, and will eat whatever kinds of food they can find. The North American southern flying squirrel eats seeds, insects, gastropods (slugs and snails), spiders, shrubs, flowers, fungi, and tree sap.
The mating season for flying squirrels is during February and March. When the infant squirrels are born, the female squirrels live with them in maternal nest sites. The mothers nurture and protect them until they leave the nest. The males do not participate in nurturing their offspring.
At birth, flying squirrels are mostly hairless, apart from their whiskers, and most of their senses are not present. Their internal organs are visible through the skin, and their sex can be signified. By week five of their lives, they are almost fully developed. At that point, they can respond to their environment and start to develop a mind of their own. Through the upcoming weeks of their lives, they practice leaping and gliding. After two and a half months, their gliding skills are perfected, they are ready to leave their nest and are capable of independent survival.
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