The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel (Pteromys momonga ; Japanese: ニホンモモンガ, Hepburn: Nihon momonga ) is one of two species of Old World flying squirrels in the genus Pteromys. It is native to Japan where it inhabits sub-alpine forests and boreal evergreen forests on Honshu and Kyushu islands. It grows to a length of 20 cm (8 in) and has a membrane connecting its wrists and ankles which enables it to glide from tree to tree. During the day this squirrel hides in a hole, usually in a coniferous tree, emerging at night to feed on buds, leaves, bark, fruits and seeds. This squirrel faces no particular threats, has a wide range and is relatively common and the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as a "least-concern species".
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.
This species is native to Japan where it inhabits sub-alpine forests and boreal evergreen forests on Honshu and Kyushu islands.
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 the 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 to share the nests with their mothers, suggesting that mothers and their offspring use certain types of tactile communication.
There is no information on the 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. The 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. When it comes to males, there is no information on whether they participate in parental care.
Currently, Japanese dwarf flying squirrels don’t face any serious threats.
According to IUCN Red List, 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.