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Image of the Day: Hot Pink Squirrels

Under UV light, flying squirrels give off a rosy glow.

Feb 15, 2019
Carolyn Wilke

ABOVE: Flying squirrel at a feeder under UV light
JON MARTIN

Ultraviolet light imbues some flying squirrels with pink hues, according to a study published January 23 in the Journal of Mammology. Researchers studied several species of flying squirrels, flashing both animals from the wild and museum specimens with UV light to see if they fluoresce. Of North and Central American squirrels, males and females alike of all three extant species appeared in a range of rosy tones.

The flying squirrel joins the ranks of other UV fluorescent animals that emit visible light, including several birds, reptiles, amphibians, and marsupials. Why hot pink for flying squirrels? That is yet unknown. 

A flying squirrel viewed under visible light (left) and fluorescing pink under UV (right)
PHOTO COURTESY OF KOHLER ET AL.

A.M. Kohler et al., “Ultraviolet fluorescence discovered in New World flying squirrels (Glaucomys),” Journal of Mammology, doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyy177, 2019.

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