They are fluffy. They are tiny. Their huge eyes can look right into your soul. Who are they? They are Japanese dwarf flying squirrels! These critters are a part of the flying squirrels group, and they are undeniably the cutest squirrels ever! Their small size, combined with their nocturnal nature, has made it quite difficult to study them in detail. Add to that the fact that their camouflaging fur makes them look like a random lump on a tree. Talk about playing hard to get! They can fly like Superman, and run and dart like Flash to avoid being caught by predators. And although they are rare, they were quite popular in the pet trade. The following paragraphs provide some interesting facts about the adorable Japanese dwarf flying squirrels. Read on.
★ Japanese dwarf flying squirrels belong to the tribe Pteromyini, like all flying squirrels.
★ They are members of the Sciuridae family and belong to the species Pteromys momonga, which is also their binomial name.
★ The body length of these squirrels is 14 to 20 cm (120 to 220 mm), and the length of the tail is 10 to 14 cm (110 to 130 mm). Males and females look the same.
★ They weigh between 150 to 230 g, and can curl into a ball that's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand! However, these creatures are very delicate and must be handled with extreme care.
★ The fur of these squirrels is gray-colored on the back and white-colored on the belly.
★ Their eyes are quite big for their small faces, which provide better night vision, owing to the nocturnal nature of these squirrels.
★ Their tails are flat, and their gliding membrane begins at the wrists and goes down all the way to the ankles. This membrane is called the patagium.
★ The diet of these squirrels is mainly herbivorous. They eat seeds, nuts, the bark of some trees, or fruits. They are also known to occasionally feed on insects.
★ One interesting fact about these creatures is that they hang upside down on a branch while eating! Also, they will not move around much at this time to gather food, but will only grab that which is accessible by simply stretching their bodies!
★ The habitat of these squirrels is all kinds of forests. They inhabit the holes that are formed in the tree trunks.
★ They build their nests in the trunk holes of coniferous trees like pine and spruce. The nests are made of moss, lichen, leaves, etc.
★ These squirrels are endemic to Japan and are found on the Honshu and Kyushu islands.
★ Although not much study has been conducted on them, current research shows that these animals breed twice a year. The young ones are born between May and July.
★ The average gestation period of the female is 30 days.
★ The litter size varies between 1 to 5, with 2 to 3 being the average.
★ When they are born, the baby squirrels have closed eyes and no fur. Their internal organs are visible through the skin.
★ At one week, their skin becomes darker in shade, and their fur begins to grow.
★ At two weeks, their ear canals open up and their toes separate from each other, becoming individual digits.
★ At three weeks, the fur grows on the tail. At four weeks, they are fully developed. The babies begin to move around at two weeks of age, and are weaned by their mother at about 6 weeks of age.
★ Owing to the color of their fur, Japanese dwarf flying squirrels are quite undetectable when they sit on trees.
★ This camouflage makes them look inconspicuous against the tree bark, confusing predators into thinking that it is just a bump on the bark.
★ This enables them to forage for food at night without any danger. Females leave their young at night in the nest to gather food.
★ As these squirrels run near the treetops, they become prey to owls.
★ However, they run very fast and are quite agile and quick, making them less vulnerable to being caught.
★ At times, many individuals of the same gender are found to be sitting together in a tree. During the mating season, individuals of both genders are found sitting together.
★ The average lifespan of a Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is 4 to 5 years. However, one individual squirrel was recorded to have lived for 7.5 years.
★ According to the IUCN, the conservation status of the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is in the Least Concern category.
★ Owing to all their traits, these animals cannot be caught very easily. In fact, they are not even sighted very easily. This has kept them from becoming endangered.
Japanese dwarf flying squirrels are absolutely adorable animals that will make your heart melt with those sweet faces, and make you fall in love with their soulful eyes. They are very unique and amusing animals indeed, and are a delight to look at.