Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel

One of NC's Endangered Mammals!

The Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel

NC's Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel (or glaucomys sabrinus) is a subspecies of the Northern Flying Squirrel, and was declared federally endangered July 1, 1985. They are found in the mountains of NC, typically in moist, cool forests made up of both evergreen and deciduous trees. It can also be found in Tennessee and Virginia. In actuality, it doesn't fly. Instead, it glides by extending a fold of skin that stretches from it's wrist to ankle on either side of it's body. Their flattened tail acts as a rudder. Northern Flying Squirrels primarily eat fungi and lichens, and the occasional nuts and berries. Every spring, mothers have two to six babies. They live in tree cavities in nests made almost entirely of yellow birch bark.

Why They Are Endangered, And What's Being Done To Help

Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels are endangered due to threats from both humans and nature. However, human impacts far outweigh the natural ones. The good thing about this is that it will be easier to fix them because we are the ones causing them. Some of the threats include:

  • habitat destruction, fragmentation or alteration
  • introduced exotic pests (invasive species)
  • recreational and residential development
  • pollution (acid rain and heavy metals)
Another good thing is that the US Fish and Wildlife Service are already trying to help save the flying squirrels. They have put together a four part process to help save them. It is:

  1. Determine the distribution of the species in the Appalachians by conducting surveys of places where they have been captured and new areas with suitable habitat.
  2. Areas found that support this species, or especially favorable habitat conditions need to be protected from human-related disturbance.
  3. An effort needs to be made to obtain information on flying squirrel ecology (e.g.- habitat requirements, diet, relations with other species, etc.).
  4. Their response to different habitat modification measures needs to be studied.
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More Ways We're Helping (Or Want To Help)

Some other things that the FWS want to do are:
  • Establish a recovery advisory committee to coordinate all recovery actions
  • Determine distribution and viability of their populations in the southern Appalachians
  • Obtain life history and ecological information for known populations of it in the southern Appalachians
  • Determine genetic ability within and among populations
  • Develop management guidelines
  • Implement appropriate management and protection procedures
  • Implement information/education programs