Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Jewel # 161 (Jan 8, 2014)

(The Northern Flying Squirrel)

(The Northern Flying Squirrel)

To my dear grandchildren,

North American Flying Squirrels - Part 1

"Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create."
(Isaiah 65:18)

While there are many flying squirrels in lands south of the equator, there are only two look-alike varieties in North America.  The northern lives mostly in Canada and is about the size of a common gray squirrel.  The southern is slightly smaller and lives in the forests of the eastern United States.

Their name in Latin means "gray mouse that flies," and because of their amazing movements through the air, in some places they are known as "fairy diddles."  Actually, a more realistic name would be "gliding squirrels," for they do not actually fly but, as we will explain in the next article, they have special bodies which enable them to make gliding leaps between trees.  A flying squirrel can typically glide up to 150 feet. 

Unlike the gray and red squirrels which are active during the day time and which are familiar to most of us, both of the North American "flyers" are active at night.  This is why they are seldom seen, and people are often unaware that they are in the neighbourhood.     

These squirrels do not hibernate, but if the weather gets unusually cold, a dozen or more will keep warm by snuggling together in a nest.  Once the weather warms up, they resume their activities.

These closely related animals are alike in many ways.  They all tend to have grayish-brown  backs and white underparts.  Their pretty fur is thick and silky, and their chins have long whiskers.  They all have flat tails nearly equal in length to their bodies, large ears, and big black eyes.  It is plain to see how the Creator wisely provided these features to help them in their manner of nighttime activity.

They are playful creatures, chasing each other from tree to tree or scampering up the trunk, accompanied by loud squeals.  When gathering nuts, they sometimes stop their work and bat some around, apparently just for the fun of it.  In fact, seeing their different playful ways, they seem to be one of of the few animals that get much pleasure out of all that the Creator has done for them.  They don't seem to take life seriously and have been seen exchanging what appear to be kisses with their companions.  However, on rare occasions when they become irritated, one might be spotted stamping its feet like a spoiled little child or lying on its back kicking its feet in the air as if to pummel a real or imagined enemy.

In many Bible verses, the wonders of the Lord God's creation are spoken of, such as the words of King David: "I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all Thy marvelous works" (Psalm 9:1).  There is real joy for all who, like King David, do this with their whole heart.  Do you?  (To be continued)  

Love you all,

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