Anyone who’s ever joined in the fun of escorting salamanders across the road in early spring during amphibian migration knows that all the action tends to be down on the ground. With your attention focused at your feet, it’s easy to forget about the other nocturnal wildlife lurking above your head. Owls are an obvious example of one of these arboreal darkness dwellers, but the night time forest can be a great way to see some species that are seldom encountered by people. Flying squirrels are one such creature. Unlike the familiar gray and red squirrels of the daylight, the flying squirrel can only be seen at night, as it spends the daytime hours curled up in its nest cavity within a tree.

This particular individual was encountered on the night of April 7th during the salamander escorts on Morgan Road. It was spotted as it soared across the road above the heads of the volunteers who had their lights trained on the ground. It clung to the trunk of a Northern Red Oak for a minute before scurrying into the crotch of the tree where it curled up and took a nap, allowing several volunteers their “life look” at the species. This one is believed to be a Northern Flying Squirrel because it has belly fur which is gray at the base when the fur is parted (as seen in the photos). The Southern Flying Squirrel looks nearly identical and is also present in Vermont, but has belly fur that is all white, right down to the roots. Next time you’re in the woods at night, keep your eyes up, you never know what you’ll see!

– Tyler Pockette

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