Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

Flying Squirrels

Why are we studying flying squirrels?

Flying squirrels may be sensitive to fragmentation and as such, may be good indicators of landscape connectivity because they need mature trees to climb for gliding and to sleep in during the day. To understand the connectivity requirements of flying squirrels in Nova Scotia, local life history data are required to determine how long they live, how many young they have and how they disperse. With this project, live-trapping, passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and nest boxes were used to collect life history data for flying squirrels. PIT tags are small glass microchips that are inserted under an animal’s skin and that provide the time, date and unique code for the animal when they pass through a circular antenna.

 

Study objectives

  • To determine survivorship of flying squirrels.

  • To determine fecundity (ability to produce young) of flying squirrels.

 

Methods

  • Study grids were installed at six sites in the Mersey and Medway watersheds with wooden brackets placed on the south side of trees at chest height.

  • Live traps were placed on the brackets and baited with peanut butter.

  • Captured flying squirrels were implanted with PIT tags and released where they were caught.

  • PIT tag receiving stations were placed within the grid to monitor survivorship.

  • Volunteers from Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne counties constructed squirrel boxes, which were installed in study grids for future fecundity work.

 

Results

  • In the month of April, 2011, 18 captures of 12 individual flying squirrels (four southern and eight northern) were made near Donnellan Lake, Grafton Lake and Kempt Provincial Park Reserve.

  • Half of the flying squirrels were recaptured from previous years. Four of these had been PIT tagged the previous year and two had been tagged two years ago.

   

 

Years of Data

  • 2005 - 2011

 

Partners

  • Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

  • Parks Canada

  • Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund

  • YWCA

  • Acadia University