A flying squirrel that likely got swept up in a gust of wind and smacked into a tree during a storm this week is recovering at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute near Sackville, N.B.

"The poor little thing is just spinning in circles," said Pam Novak, the institute's director of wildlife care.

"Some kind of head trauma is what I'm guessing."

'She just spins to the right. She won't even go to the left, and that's definitely not a good thing.'  - Pam Novak

Because they are nocturnal rodents, many people may not realize New Brunswick even has the northern flying squirrel, Novak said. 

But you may have seen one dart past your car at night.

"If you don't know what you're looking for you wouldn't think, 'squirrel,'" she said on Shift. "They're just absolutely magnificent to watch."

Pam Novak

Pam Novak, director of wildlife care of the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, says many people may not even be aware New Brunswick has flying squirrels. (CBC)

The squirrels use skin flaps between their front and back legs to glide between trees, using their tails as a rudder.

"They don't weigh that much and so a pretty good breeze or hard wind that we had with these storms … if they're in mid-glide it could really smack you up against a tree, up against the house or the building — something like that very easily," Novak said.

The squirrel was found Tuesday near the SPCA in Moncton. Novak said she expects to know more about its prognosis in the next 48 hours.


The flying squirrel is 'spinning in circles,' but only to the right, says Pam Novak. (Pam Novak/Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

"She just spins to the right,`she said. `She won't even go to the left, and that's definitely not a good thing.

"I just have to figure out what happened to her and what we can do to help get her back on a straight path and hopefully get her back out where she belongs."

Mating season

Novak is hoping the squirrel recovers in time for mating season.

"They're going to start breeding soon, so hopefully this one, if we can get her in and out quick and back to her habitat ...  she can continue and be part of the whole breeding cycle too. So that's what I'm concerned with."

With files from Shift