Flying squirrels may not really fly, but they do have flaps of skin on their bodies that act like parachutes and help them glide through the air.

Todd Wilson with a pretty, tri-color shepherd or collie puppy.
Todd Wilson and his puppy

My friend Todd Wilson told me all about it. He’s a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon and graduate of Washington State University who researches Pacific Northwest ecosystems and the animals that call them home— including flying squirrels.

When flying squirrels are trying to avoid predators, like weasels, sometimes they will run to the top of a tree. The weasel might think the flying squirrel has nowhere else to run. That’s when the flying squirrel makes its move.

“The flying squirrel can just take off and glide,” Wilson said. “When they launch themselves from a tree, they can actually go quite a ways out, but they’re not actually flying.”

Of all the thousands of mammal species on our planets, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly.

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