FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A couple of cute critters, not often seen in South Florida, are calling Fort Lauderdale home these days after being rescued.
The 4-week old brother and sister flying squirrels being hand fed at the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale. They’re orphans which were found near Gainesville.
“As orphans they are not able to feed on their own,” explained South Florida Wildlife Center Director Sherry Schluter. “They would be nursing from their mother, so we’re providing an appropriate formula for the squirrels.”
Flying squirrels don’t actually fly, the glide between trees using a furry parachute-like membrane that stretches from wrist to ankle.
But these flying squirrels are going anywhere right now.
“Right now, their home is an incubator and they’re fed by techs here. But that won’t last too much longer, soon they’ll be in the squirrel habitat. As soon as they’re big enough to hold their own body weight and not be required to be in an incubator and they can eat on their own, they will eventually be transferred outside into outdoor habitats until their big enough and strong enough to be released in the wild,” said Schluter.
In the habitat, they’ll learn the basics, like how to be a squirrel.
“They’ll be offered a lot of holes to hide in, a lot of things to climb in, their food will be hidden and put into different places,” explained veterinarian Dr. Antonia Gardner. “They’ll be introduced to more natural foods and that will help them to acclimate to the wild.”
In the habitat, they have a safe place to practice what they’re most known for, which is gliding.
“What’s cool about them is they’re one of the mammals that can glide through the air,” said Schluter. “And they’re quite beautiful and it’s astounding to watch them going between trees like little caped batmen flying through the air.” She continued, “We’re honored to be in a position to rear these two little ones so that they can go back to nature and find mates and rear their own and have happy lives. “
The South Florida Wildlife Center plans to release them in the Gainesville area in the next month or so.
There are a handful of states that allow flying squirrels to be kept as pets. Florida is one of them.