Close up look at elusive and rare flying squirrel

Most people will go their whole lives without actually sighting a flying squirrel. They are nocturnal animals, rarely coming out on the open during the light of day. They are stealthy and quiet, moving quickly among the canopy where they feed on fruit, seeds, insects, and even bird eggs. They are capable of gliding an incredible 90m (300 feet) due to their skin flaps that stretch from wrist to ankle. Flying squirrels are not capable of true flight like birds or bats. Instead, they leap into the air and spread out their limbs. They have a membrane, called a patagium, that stretches and acts like a wing, allowing them to glide and even achieve some lift. Having longer limb bones that regular squirrels assists the squirrels because they are able to stretch their patagium membranes farther out from their bodies, effectively creating more "wing surface" area. The unique ability of flying squirrels assists in foraging by allowing them to cover more distance and area that their non-flying counterparts. They are also more able to escape predators by moving from one tree to another more easily, and over greater distance. Their ability to slow their descent and lessen impact with target trees prevents injury when landing. A beautiful animal to look at when perched, they are even more beautiful in flight. Quick and graceful, beautifully colored, and equipped with large eyes to assist in night vision, the squirrels are a delight to encounter. This cute little fellow was one of several that were sighted making their way across a small island in remote cottage country of Ontario, Canada. The cottage owners were thrilled to be sharing their space with a family of flying squirrels.