Before today if someone asked me whether or not we have flying squirrels here in Michigan I would have laughed in their face.
When I think of flying squirrels I think of exotic creatures in some far-off land like Africa or maybe Australia. Well, it turns out the joke is on me!
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) there are nine different species of squirrels that call The Mitten home. Of those nine, two are actually of the flying variety believe it or not.-- and I'm having a hard time believing it!
I was born and raised in West Michigan and I don't ever recall seeing squirrels flying around the treetops here. I'm pretty sure I would've remembered something as wild as that.
The nine different species of squirrels that can be found in Michigan are:
- Eastern fox squirrel
- Eastern gray squirrel
- Red squirrel
- Thirteen-lined ground squirrel
- Northern flying squirrel
- Southern flying squirrel
- Least chipmunk
- Eastern chipmunk
Apparently, squirrels, chipmunks, and groundhogs are all a part of the rodent family which is why they also fall on this list.
But Do The Squirrels Actually Fly?
Unfortunately, the term flying squirrel is a misnomer because our squirrels do not, in fact, fly. According to the Michigan DNR,
Unlike bats, flying squirrels do not really fly. They have a loose membrane of furred skin attached between their front and back legs. The membrane helps these squirrels glide from tree to tree.
That's misleading! Why not just call them "gliding squirrels" like the sugar glider?
Where Do They Live?
If you're hoping to find a flying squirrel in-flight here in Michigan, the northern flying squirrel resides in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas while the southern flying squirrel can only be found the in Lower.
Another reason Michigan's flying squirrels go relatively unnoticed is because they are entirely nocturnal. In the warmer months you can find them in the forests and woodlands. During the winter they utilize various cavities in old trees to den in for the colder months.
Have you ever seen a flying squirrel in action?