Flying squirrels live in deciduous forests throughout the United States and Canada. They do not truly fly as birds or bats do. Rather, they glide from tree to tree. They may be one of the most common animals in a forest, but humans rarely see them because they are nocturnal. Flying squirrels are omnivores. They eat a wide variety of foods.
In the wild, flying squirrels are opportunistic foragers, and will eat fruit growing in their environment. For southern flying squirrels, this may include berries, pears, apples or plums. For a captive flying squirrel, maintaining a diet rich in fruit ensures the animal’s digestive system functions properly. S & S Exotic Animals recommends that fruit should account for at least 40 percent of a flying squirrel’s diet. Flying squirrel owners should mimic as closely as possible the types of food the flying squirrel would have available to it in the wild.
Plants, Seeds and Nuts
Wild flying squirrels consume all manner of plants, nuts and seeds found naturally in a deciduous forest -- including leaves, stems, tree bark, hickory nuts and acorns. Captive flying squirrels should have a wide variety of vegetables, seeds and nuts available. If providing these individually is too expensive or complicated, get commercial flying squirrel food, pellets specially formulated to mimic what a flying squirrel would eat in the wild, ensuring balanced nutrition.
According to the Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center, wild flying squirrels are more carnivorous than any other tree squirrel. They are scavengers that feed on birds, eggs and carrion. They also consume insects and young mice. In captivity, tree squirrels may be fed mealworms for protein.
All flying squirrels risk calcium deficiency because they are nocturnal creatures that do not get a lot of sunlight. Wild flying squirrels will gnaw on bones and antlers to absorb calcium. In captivity, owners can add calcium and vitamin supplements to the flying squirrel’s water.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.