THESE NOCTURNAL SQUIRRELS ARE OFFICIALLY THE CUTEST CREATURES IN THE WORLD
When I saw them, for the first time, on the photos, I was in love. That little, chubby face and innocent big eyes that is starring at you and waiting for a nut. Then I researched a bit more about those adorable creatures and was surprised that they do not belong to any kind of hamsters but to the family of squirrels. Indeed, they are rodents but they are called Japanese flying dwarf squirrels. This means they are mostly located in Japan’s Honshu and Kyushu islands and also in Korean Peninsula and in some parts of China. In Japan, this species is protected and trade of them is prohibited and if happens, punished.
Pteromys momonga is the scientific name of the squirrel that is so loved by people and many dream about having it a a pet. Their height is from 6 -11 cm, they are long up to 23 cm and might weight up to 220 gr. Those funny little cutters could be spotted only at night since they are pretty much nocturnal animals that sleep during the day, blended with forest background. Their specific colour range help them being invisible for predators, especially for main predators – owls. So, basically, during the daylight, they relax and chill in some tree hole and crawling out in the late sunset, feeding on nuts, insects, leaves and fruits.
Why they have been defined as flying squirrels ? In spite of it, must be emphasised that they do not fly:“Instead, it glides with a membrane, stretching from its forelimbs to hind limbs and covered with fur. The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is known to glide long distances of up to 100 meters at a time, using this ability to move between trees or escape predators.” This is very interesting fact because someone would think they do fly but they do move so quickly from one to another tree that it looks like perfect flying performance. They try to survive and escape possible predators. When they find their basic tree, they form a groups and they live there unless it is a mating season and the groups mix. Their social behaviour is not so well investigated but what is sure is that they do have some kind of communication language and vocal connection, especially between others and offspring that live together in the nest. It is also stated that mothers are very caring and follow the life of the young in first 6 weeks. There are no information if fathers are also so devoted, just an assumption that they do not harm the kids. Babies of this species are born with closed eyes and they do not have any fur. The tiny baby squirrel have visible internal organs through the skin in first week.
They are almost like ancient animals since it is believed that they originated about 18-20 millions years ago but they are so loved in the modern world and many people would love to have them as pets. I wouldn’t recommend having this animal as a pet unless it is from the local breed or domesticated and not one that is stolen from wilderness. They make very good pets because they are forming a special bon with humans but also they need to be nurtured and disciplined. In the real nature, they live up to 5 years and in captivity, with good care, they reach almost 15 years. If it is your wish to have this animal as a pet, be sure you have all conditions for it. They need place and adequate diet, as well as mental challenging and care. These rodents are active during the night and you wont see them so oft during the day. The fluffy squirrels are social animals so they will need their companions, fresh and different food, clean toilet and hidden nest for chill lounge. It is more than amazing to know that they glow in the dark and the reason for it is fluorescence:“When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, some animals and plants emit light at a different wavelength than the original source of light. This phenomenon is called fluorescence, and it occurs when the molecules in an animal or plant absorb UV light and then re-emit that light at a lower energy level. The result is a glowing effect that can be seen under certain conditions.Some animals, like certain fish and scorpions, are known to fluoresce naturally. However, the glow of flying squirrels is thought to be caused by a specific type of bacteria that lives on their skin. This bacteria produces a compound called luciferin, which is known to cause fluorescence when exposed to UV light. It’s not clear why flying squirrels have this bacteria on their skin, but it’s possible that it provides some sort of benefits, such as camouflage or protection from predators.“
How you would name the family members of those little squirrels ? The male is a buck, the female is a doe and the baby is a kit. If you still want to share your home with them, educate yourself about their needs so you can be able to full-fill all necessary reqirements and keep them safe and sound. Beside it, you should also note that they might transmit many zoonotic disease or parasites so you should be additionally careful and devoted to the clean place where they live and have their activities.
In many states keeping of those squirrels as pets is not allowed or you have to apply for special licence for having them. This is just a legal prevention of any kind of potential abuse for fur or anything else in the shadow of interest for having a pet.
For sure, they are more than adorable and cute. It is almost like a jumping face from all those sweet Disney cartoon movies, the live performance of animal awesomeness. Nevertheless, there must be also a serious care and approach to them so we can be sure we have all what they need in their life. These tiny fellows belong to woods, deep trees and fresh air, where they can stretch and enjoy the freedom and not being captivated for human egoism and kept in golden cage only because they are super cool or super sweet.
One thought on “THE JAPANESE FLYING SQUIRREL: DWARF CUTENESS FROM JAPAN FOREST”
Sarah’s endearing and charming article reminded me of 蝦 夷 モ モ ン ガ (i.e. Ezo-momonga – Hokkaido Flying squirrel)…
I lived in Hokkaido, the northern Nipponese Archipelago between 1996-2009, and during that period I witnessed several Ezo-momonga in regional forests. The dwarf flying squirrel is native to the southern archipelago islands. The Hokkaido flying squirrel is a subspecies of the Siberian flying squirrel. Though, as Sarah mentions, the squirrels are gliders, as opposed to being flyers, in the strict sense.
The indigenous people of Hokkaido (i.e. the Ainu) regard the Ezo-momonga as sacred and is highly-cherished by them.
The Hokkaido flying squirrel is threatened by loss of habitat, climate change, pollution, etc.