It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... flying squirrel?!
If you venture out near the woods after dark, you might hear the high-pitched cry of a flying squirrel. Flying squirrels can be common near extensive woods, where they are active only at night. Flying squirrels are small relatives of gray and fox squirrels. They are about five inches long and weigh a little more than a king-size chocolate bar.
Bats are the only mammals that truly fly -- flying squirrels do not. They don't have wings. Instead, a loose fold of skin extends from wrist to ankle. When they extend their front and hind legs, the membrane stretches out and supports the squirrel in a glide for long distances. They use their broad, flat tails to steer. Although they can glide one-third the length of a football field, they more often glide two or three car lengths.
Flying squirrels live in tree cavities, often those created by woodpeckers. In residential areas, they will use birdhouses placed 20 to 30 feet above the ground. Flying squirrels can be attracted to a platform feeder with sunflower seeds, peanut better, and other nuts and suet.
You can sometimes hear flying squirrels call from treetops. You might also hear soft thumping noises when they land, or the sound of their scurrying feet on tree trunks, rooftops or even attics.
Additional facts courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.