Humboldt's flying squirrel

Humboldt's flying squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis) is one of three species of the genus Glaucomys, the only flying squirrels found in North America. The squirrel was named after the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and California's Humboldt County, which is one of the areas inhabited by the squirrel.[2]

Humboldt's flying squirrel
Glaucomys oregonensis2.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Glaucomys
G. oregonensis
Binomial name
Glaucomys oregonensis
(Bachman, 1839)


Using genetic analyses, Arbogast et al. (2017)[2] showed that Humboldt's flying squirrel, previously thought to be conspecific with the northern flying squirrel, was actually a distinct species. The San Bernardino flying squirrel subspecies (G. o. californicus) is considered a Critically Imperiled Subspecies by NatureServe.[3]


They do not actually fly but glide from tree to tree.[4] They are similar in appearance to the northern flying squirrel, however, they are generally smaller and have darker pelage. They are good gliders but clumsy walkers on the ground.


Humboldt's flying squirrel is part of a larger family of New World flying squirrels whose fur glow pink under ultraviolet light. The presence of fluorescent coats could be a result of an evolutionary adaptation to dark environments that helps facilitate communication between individual flying squirrels and prevent detection from potential predators. [5]

Diet and behaviourEdit

They feed on a variety of plant material as well as tree sap, fungi, insects, carrion, bird eggs and nestlings. They mostly breed once a year in a cavity lined with lichen or other soft material. Unlike most members of their family, flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal.[6] They nest in the tops of the trees away from the ground and predators.

Distribution and habitatEdit

Habitat of Humboldt's flying squirrel

Humboldt's flying squirrels are found in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests from southern British Columbia to southern California.[7] They live in thick coastal forests where there is plenty of room for them to glide from tree to tree. Populations of Humboldt's flying squirrels are more concentrated in old forests where the relatively stable environment allows for fewer offspring in each litter. [8]


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b Arbogast, Brian S.; Schumacher, Katelyn I.; Kerhoulas, Nicholas J.; Bidlack, Allison L.; Cook, Joseph A.; Kenagy, G. J. (2017). "Genetic data reveal a cryptic species of New World flying squirrel: Glaucomys oregonensis". Journal of Mammalogy. 98 (4): 1027–1041. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyx055.
  3. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Meet This Newly Discovered Flying Squirrel". 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  5. ^ Kohler, Allison M; Olson, Erik R; Martin, Jonathan G; Anich, Paula Spaeth (2019-01-23). "Ultraviolet fluorescence discovered in New World flying squirrels ( Glaucomys )". Journal of Mammalogy. 100 (1): 21–30. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyy177. ISSN 0022-2372.
  6. ^ "New Flying Squirrel Species Discovered along North America's Pacific Coast". Humboldt State University. June 5, 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  7. ^ Morell, Virginia (May 30, 2017). "Meet This Newly Discovered Flying Squirrel". National Geographic. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  8. ^ Matt Weldy, Clinton W Epps, Damon B Lesmeister, Tom Manning, Eric D Forsman, Spatiotemporal dynamics in vital rates of Humboldt’s flying squirrels and Townsend’s chipmunks in a late-successional forest, Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 101, Issue 1, 21 February 2020, Pages 187–198,