Northern Flying Squirrel

Glaucomys sabrinus

There are two species of flying squirrels that live in North America. The northern flying squirrel (with 25 sub-species) may be found in forests throughout most of Canada, except for the central prairies and the extreme North; also in the U.S. in Alaska and northern areas of the Rockies and Appalachians. The southern flying squirrel (with 10 sub-species) inhabits a broad range in the eastern and midwestern United States, but in Canada is only found in very small, scattered pockets of southeastern Ontario. The southern species is considered ‘vulnerable’ but the northern species is not at risk. It is the northern squirrel that you would be likely to encounter in the Pacific Northwest, so it is the focus of this article.


The scientific name for the northern flying squirrel is Glaucomys sabrinus. Glaucos means for silver or grey, mys means mouse, and sabrinus come from the Latin word for river-nymph. So you will notice them often in riparian areas, near streams and rivers. Their colours range from tan to cinnamon and they have greyish-white belly fur. They are about 30 cm (12 in.) long and weigh about 139 g (46 oz.) Flying squirrels have big black eyes and this characteristic helps their night vision for they are nocturnal animals…

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