Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Northern Flying Squirrel - Glaucomys sabrinus
Sciuridae Members:
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Photo by: Marilyn Westphal and Marcus Simpson
Distribution In NC, it is limited to the higher mountains, though it does occur at middle elevations as far southwest to Graham County. In most places in the state, found above about 4,000 feet elevation, and the majority of them occur above 5,000 feet.

Ranges from coast to coast from AK to Labrador, and south to the northern United States, extending considerably farther southward down several mountain chains; it ranges down the Appalachians to southwestern NC.
Abundance Rare and somewhat local, being absent to very rare in counties along the VA border, but locally uncommon in a few higher mountain ranges, such as the Black Mountains and the Great Smokies.
Seasonal Occurrence Active year-round, despite occurring in winter where the temperatures often range into single digits.
Habitat Favors spruce-fir forests or forests where spruce is mixed with hardwoods. Also occurs to a lesser extent in pure hardwood stands, or where mixed with other conifers, but these are typicaly in cool microclimates.
See also Habitat Account for General High Elevation Forests
Behavior Nocturnal in activity, apparently more active just after dusk and just before dawn. Utilizes woodpecker cavities or other holes/cavities in trees, mainly in dead trees, for roosting and nesting. They also utilize nest boxes placed in their habitat. As with the Southern Flying Squirrel, these animals glide from the upper parts of one tree downward to the base of another tree, rarely to the ground.
Comments Though the full species is not rare, the population in NC is a very rare subspecies -- G. sabrinus coloratus -- that occurs northward only to neighboring VA, and barely into adjacent TN. Not surprisingly, this subspecies, called the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel, is Federally listed as Endangered.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S2
State Status E
Global Rank G5
Federal Status E
subspecies Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus
other_comName Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.