A crew working to cut down a dying oak tree on the University of Nebraska’s East Campus made an unexpected discovery in a hollow limb — a family of flying squirrels.
Brian Dieterman, assistant manager for the university’s landscape services, said his crew was baffled when a creature poked its head out from a hole in a hollow limb of the tree.
“We’re used to seeing squirrels in trees, but this didn’t look like a squirrel,” Dieterman told the Lincoln Journal Star.
Dieterman said the workers figured out what animals they were dealing with when they started gliding to a nearby tree.
The university shared a video to Facebook showing the flying squirrels in flight.
Larkin Powell, a professor of conservation biology at the school, said Nebraska’s last-known population of flying squirrels is about 90 miles away in the area around Indian Cave State Park.
Powell said it’s hard to say how long the gliding mammals have been on campus, as they are nocturnal and notoriously elusive.
“It’s among the species that’s harder to document because they’re not out when people are around,” he said. “And they’re little dudes.”
Powell said there haven’t been any reported sightings between the animals’ natural habitat and Lincoln, and it would have been difficult for them to make the journey on their own. He said they may have hitched a ride on a truck or with someone’s camping supplies.
“As a biologist, I’ve seen crazy things that animals can do. But it’s very unlikely they made it here on their own,” he said.