Do Flying Squirrels Hibernate

Flying squirrels do not hibernate like many other animals during winter. Instead, they slow down their body activity and lower their metabolic rates and body temperatures. This helps them conserve energy in colder weather. While they may nest in groups to stay warm, they do not enter a deep hibernation state.

Do Flying Squirrels Hibernate

How Flying Squirrels Survive In Winter

Flying squirrels have unique adaptations to survive the cold winter months without hibernating. They utilize nonshivering thermogenesis, increase their body mass, decrease their metabolic rate, and huddle together in communal nests.

1. Nonshivering Thermogenesis (NST)

Flying squirrels rely on NST to generate heat and stay warm during the winter. NST is a heat production system in mammals that helps regulate body temperature. It is particularly active in brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscles. Studies have shown that flying squirrels have higher levels of NST during the coldest months, such as December and January.

2. Increase in Body Mass

Unlike some animals that lose weight during winter, flying squirrels actually increase their body mass. The extra weight provides insulation and helps them stay warm in cold temperatures. This adaptation allows them to conserve energy and maintain their body temperature.

3. Decreased Metabolic Rate

Flying squirrels lower their metabolic rate during winter to conserve energy. By reducing their metabolic processes, they can withstand harsh conditions and survive on less food. This physiological state, known as torpor, allows them to decrease their activity level and maintain their energy reserves.

4. Frequent Emergence from Torpor

While some animals enter long periods of torpor or hibernation, flying squirrels have shorter bouts of torpor interspersed with periods of activity. They emerge from torpor frequently to eat, forage, or engage in necessary maintenance activities. This strategy allows them to conserve energy while still meeting their nutritional needs.


How long do flying squirrels hibernate?

Flying squirrels typically hibernate for a few months, depending on the climate and availability of food. They may emerge from hibernation as early as February in milder areas, or as late as April in colder regions.

Where do flying squirrels hibernate?

Flying squirrels hibernate in tree cavities, abandoned bird nests, or even in attics or other small, sheltered spaces. They look for a secure, secluded location to spend the winter months.

What do flying squirrels eat before hibernating?

Before hibernating, flying squirrels will spend the fall months gathering and storing food such as nuts, seeds, berries, and insects to sustain them during hibernation.

Do flying squirrels hibernate alone or in groups?

Flying squirrels often hibernate in small groups, huddling together for warmth and sharing body heat. This social behavior helps them survive the cold winter months.

Are flying squirrels active during hibernation?

Flying squirrels are not completely inactive during hibernation. They may occasionally wake up to eat stored food or move around their hibernation space before returning to torpor.


In conclusion, flying squirrels do not technically hibernate in the traditional sense, but they do enter a state of torpor during the winter months. This allows them to conserve energy and survive the cold temperatures and scarcity of food. While they may not experience the same deep hibernation as other animals, their ability to enter torpor demonstrates their adaptability to their environment.

Understanding the behavior and physiology of flying squirrels is important for conservation efforts and wildlife management, as it allows us to better protect their habitats and ensure their long-term survival.

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