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flying squirrel


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various nocturnal squirrels of the genera Pteromys, Petaurista, Glaucomys, and related genera, having membranes along each side of the body between the forelegs and hind legs that enable it to glide between trees.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of 43 species of squirrels from the Pteromyinae subfamily; they cannot fly, but glide from tree to tree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • One of a group of squirrels, of the genus Glaucomys (formerly Pteromus and Sciuropterus [1913 Webster]), especially Glaucomys volans and Glaucomys sabrinus, having parachute-like folds of skin extending from the fore to the hind legs, which enable them to make very long, gliding leaps.
  • adj. See Flying squirrel, in the Vocabulary.
  • n. See Flying squirrel, in the Vocabulary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A squirrel or squirrel-like animal having a fold of skin like a parachute along each side of the body, by means of which it is enabled to make long flying leaps through the air.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. nocturnal phalangers that move with gliding leaps using parachute-like folds of skin along the sides of the body


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  • The flying squirrels, scientifically known as Pteromyini or Petauristini, are a tribe of squirrel (family Sciuridae). There are 43 species in this tribe. The 2 species of the genus Glaucomys (Glaucomys sabrinus and Glaucomys volans) are native to North America, and the Siberian flying squirrel is native to parts of northern Europe (Pteromys volans).

    The term "flying" is somewhat misleading, since flying squirrels are actually gliders incapable of true flight. Steering is accomplished by adjusting tautness of the patagium, largely controlled by a small cartilaginous wrist bone. The tail acts as a stabilizer in flight, much like the tail of a kite, and as an adjunct airfoil when "braking" prior to landing on a tree trunk.


    February 4, 2008