The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is an extremely small and fluffy squirrel. It's a native Japanese species and one of the two Old World flying squirrels. This rodent is one of the cutest and most lovable creatures ever known! Despite the common name, this unique squirrel doesn't 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. The life expectancy of this animal is unknown, although other flying squirrels typically live 4 – 5 years in the wild and as long as 10 – 15 years in captivity.
Native and endemic to japan, this rodent inhabits Honshu and Kyushu Islands of the country. The preferred habitat of the Japanese flying squirrel is boreal evergreen forest.
Japanese flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal creatures that spend their daytime hours in their nests or in tree holes, coming out of their shelters only at dusk. These rodents are silent gliders and move quickly among tops of trees in order to escape potential predators. Japanese flying squirrels are mainly arboreal, rarely descending to the ground. Several individuals of the same sex can share the same tree, except for the mating season, during which they gather in mixed groups. Japanese flying squirrels do not hibernate and are active throughout the year. However, they are known to occasionally sleep for several days at a time during the winter months. Nothing is known about the communication habits and behavior of this species, although these animals are believed to use vocalizations, including chattering sounds. In addition, newborn young are known share the nests with their mothers, suggesting that mothers and their offspring use certain types of tactile communication.
There is no information on reproductive system of these rodents, but a male and a female are known to live together in the same nest. Mating occurs twice a year, usually from May to July. Gestation period lasts about 4 weeks, yielding 2 - 3 young on average, sometimes up to 5 per litter. Newborn squirrels are nursed by their mother for the first 6 weeks of their lives. Females are known to be very attentive to their offspring, grooming and caring for the young. As it comes to males, there is no information whether they participate in parental care.
Currently, these rodents don’t face any serious threats.
According to IUCN, the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is relatively widespread and not so common throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Due to consuming pine seeds, the Japanese flying squirrel acts as the key seed disperser of this tree within its range, helping pine survive.