Keeping a Northern Flying Squirrel as a Pet

Keeping a Northern Flying Squirrel as a Pet: Pros & Cons

Are you considering owning a flying squirrel as a pet? Take a closer look at the characteristics, care requirements, and pros and cons of keeping a northern flying squirrel as an exotic pet, as well as how to properly care for them.

Understanding the Northern Flying Squirrel

Characteristics of the northern flying squirrel

Northern flying squirrels are small nocturnal rodents native to North America. They have a unique membrane that extends from their wrists to their ankles, allowing them to glide impressive distances. Northern and southern flying squirrels are the two types of flying squirrels found in North America, with the northern species typically being larger, growing up to 12 inches long.

Comparing northern flying squirrels and sugar gliders

Although similar in appearance, northern flying squirrels and sugar gliders are distinct species. Sugar gliders are marsupials and are known for their pouch, while flying squirrels are rodents. Sugar gliders are native to Australia, while flying squirrels are native to North America. Both species are nocturnal and have the ability to glide, sharing many similarities in care and habitat requirements.

Native habitat and nocturnal behavior

Flying squirrels are nocturnal creatures that prefer to live in forests, making use of tree cavities for shelter during the day. In captivity, they require an environment that simulates their natural habitat, with spaces to climb, nest, and glide. Be prepared to provide appropriate lighting and sleeping/nesting sites that suit their nocturnal habits.

Pros of Owning a Northern Flying Squirrel as a Pet

Social and affectionate nature of flying squirrels

Flying squirrels are known to be social and affectionate animals, often bonding closely with their human companions. They are considered to be ideal pets for people who are willing to invest time, effort, and love into their care. Domesticated flying squirrels are less fearful of humans, making them more approachable and easier to handle than their wild counterparts.

Less likely to bite and bond closely with humans

Flying squirrels are less likely to bite compared to other small pets, such as hamsters or sugar gliders, primarily due to their friendly and curious nature. With proper handling and care, your flying squirrel may form a strong bond with you, providing affectionate companionship.

Unique gliding ability and entertaining to watch

Flying squirrels can be good entertainers! Their gliding abilities and acrobatic prowess make them a unique and fascinating exotic pet that will never cease to amaze you. They are agile, curious, and playful, making your time spent with them enjoyable and rewarding.

Cons of Keeping a Flying Squirrel as a Pet

Challenges in creating an appropriate habitat

One of the biggest challenges in owning a flying squirrel is the need to create a suitable habitat that mimics their natural environment. A tall cage with branches, climbing structures, and hiding spots is essential, but it can be a challenge to find or build one that provides enough space for your squirrel’s needs.

Special dietary requirements and calcium deficiency risks

Another difficulty of keeping a flying squirrel as a pet is the need to provide a varied and well-balanced diet. They have specific nutritional requirements that must be met, including a balance of vitamins, minerals, and appropriate ratios of calcium to phosphorus. In order to avoid malnutrition and calcium deficiency, you may need to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, insects and other supplements, such as mealworms.

Health and legal concerns related to owning a rodent

Before getting a flying squirrel, it is important to consider the potential health and legal risks associated with owning a rodent. Flying squirrels are susceptible to various health problems, which may require veterinary care. Additionally, it’s essential to know that it’s illegal to own flying squirrels in some states, so be sure to look into your local regulations before making a decision.

How to Get and Care for Your Flying Squirrel

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue organization

Start your search for a flying squirrel by contacting reputable breeders or rescue organizations, such as Janda Exotics, to find a healthy and well-adjusted pet. These experts can help guide you through the process of selecting, housing, and caring for your new companion.

Setting up a proper cage and environment

Once you have acquired your flying squirrel, it is essential to create an appropriate living environment. Invest in a tall, spacious cage with plenty of climbing opportunities, hiding spots, and nesting areas. Provide a variety of safe toys and other enrichment activities to ensure your squirrel stays healthy and happy.

Preparing nutritious meals and enrichment activities

As mentioned previously, flying squirrels need a varied and balanced diet to stay healthy. Be prepared to spend time preparing nutritious meals that include fresh fruits and vegetables, insects, and other supplements. Additionally, it’s essential to continue providing mental and physical enrichment through toys, puzzles, and bonding time spent together.

Making the Decision: Is a Flying Squirrel the Exotic Pet for You?

Understanding the love and commitment needed for pet flying squirrels

Before deciding if a flying squirrel is the right pet for you, make sure you are ready to commit to providing the love, attention, and proper care for that pet. Be aware that flying squirrels are social, affectionate animals that require a significant amount of time and effort to stay happy and healthy.

Choosing the right pet for your lifestyle and ability to care for a nocturnal creature

Keep in mind that flying squirrels are nocturnal, meaning they are usually most active during night hours. If you’re a night owl, a flying squirrel may be an excellent fit. However, if your schedule isn’t compatible with a nocturnal pet, you may want to consider another exotic pet that better suits your lifestyle.

Considering alternative small animals as pets if a flying squirrel isn’t the best fit

If, after careful consideration, you decide that a flying squirrel isn’t the best fit for you, there are plenty of other small animals that could make great pets. These include rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, or even sugar gliders. Your choice should be based on your ability to care for the animal, compatibility with your lifestyle, and any legal restrictions in your area.

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