One time, when I was visiting home, my Mom and I were watching television. I was plopped on the couch and she was sitting on the floor–not because I was being an inconsiderate couch-hog but because she was happily cutting coupons or some other such nonsense. I don’t know what was on…a movie on cable or something. Anyway, out of nowhere she freaks out and jumps off the floor and onto the furniture. “Omigosh a mouse”. I looked over to corner of the room and something vaguely mousey but bigger was sat nervous and still. I got up from the couch and whatever it was made a break for it–into the dining room and then onto the upstairs landing.
I was able to get a better look at it when it was in motion. It wasn’t a mouse. It was today’s great great thing.
20. Flying Squirrels.
There are 43 varieties of flying squirrels, most of which are Asian, but the one that was zipping around my house looked like this:
Cute! Notice the giant eyes for nocturnal living, flat tail for better aeronautics, and the small rounded ears so that the little flight helmet fits better.
Anyway, I chased the thing all the way upstairs and into my sister’s room. Unlike a mouse, it wasn’t darting for dark crevices or trying to hide behind anything. Instead, it wanted to reach higher ground and it clambered up onto the door frame of my sister’s closet. I called for my Mom to bring me a big Tupperware with a lid. I gently coaxed the squirrel into the fresh-keeping container and loosely held the lid on top. I shared a quick inspection with my Mom. It appeared to be nervous but the Tupperware was indeed preventing it from becoming stale!
I was tempted to keep it as a pet. I’d call it Sauron. It would sit perched on my shoulder and do my evil bidding. Fly, Sauron, fly! Attack, Sauron, attack!. Play Trivial Pursuit with me, Sauron, Play!
Resisting the urge, I released the little fella into the woods behind my house where, hopefully, it did not get eaten by an owl.
Weirdly, they are kept as pets in America and have been since Colonial days. I can see the draw as they are clearly adorable. And, it’s mentioned on several websites that they can form strong bonds with their owners (probably since they feed them–that’s how I form most bonds). Some even have shirts made with a marsupial-like ‘bonding pouch’ tailored into it where the squirrel will sleep during daytime hours. But, the fact remains, they are nocturnal animals. It’s going to sleep all day and scratch around all night–keeping you awake. So, I think they’re probably best left alone unless you happen to be a night watchmen or some other such lonely and nocturnal profession and you need the company.
Also, I just watched a video on youtube of one eating a giant grasshopper and it was NOT a pretty sight. So, unless you wanna look at that at least once a day, I’d stick to something a bit less exotic.
A lot of people probably only know flying squirrels as this:
But, as I mentioned earlier, there are lots of different types of flying squirrels and just like how dog breeds can vary from chihuahua to great dane, flying squirrels live in most of the Earth’s corners and can look very different from each other. Here’s a Chinese species called the ‘complex-toothed’ flying squirrel:
This squirrel, is currently endangered because of the usuals–loss of habitat and hunting. The extra weird thing about this one is that, get this, it’s crap is also highly valued. It’s believed, in Chinese medicine, to relieve ulcers. Its little raisinets are gathered, then fried in vinegar for consumption. I pray for the good fortune to never have to test the validity of this theory. To be fair, squirrel shit is probably much better for me than half the packaged crap that I eat. At least it’s organic.
More members of the flying squirrel tribe are depicted on this most excellent site: learn more here
Most people are probably aware that a flying squirrel doesn’t actually fly but is able to glide from certain heights by stretching out flappy bits of skin between it’s front and back paws. The tail acts as a stabilizer and an airfoil for breaking before landing. The wee beasts can also steer by adjusting the tautness of the patagium (wingspan) through its cartilaginous wrist bones. Neat-O!
Even though it’s not technically flying, it’s still pretty bitchin’….
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