The search for traces of flying squirrels in Estonia has been stepped up with the addition of a dog to the team, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday.
The dog, four-year-old Kitty, a black labrador who was in fact born in England, is now helping researchers find traces of Pteromys volans, the Siberian Flying Squirrel – principally from their droppings – in Ida-Viru County (see gallery above).
The use of dogs for this purpose has already paid off in Finland, where the species is found in greater numbers.
The research will improve methods of determining flying squirrels' range in Estonia.
Flying squirrel expert Uudo Timm told AK that: "This is particularly the case when it is necessary to find out whether or not there is a flying squirrel specimen in this or that forest; a dog should be able to locate those flying squirrels. A dog's nose can detect droppings, for instance, which are covered in moss and which we would not immediately see."
The original AK slot (in Estonian) is here.
While Siberian Flying Squirrels are an endangered species in Estonia, the Environment Agency (Keskonnaamet) reported last year there were close to 100 habitats for the species, 10 up on the previous year. Finland, where the species is found in the southern half of the country, and Latvia, are the only EU nations where the species is found, though as its name suggests it is found across European Russia, Siberia and on to the Russian far east.
There are dozens more different flying squirrel species, primarily found in the Americas and in East Asia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte