Either of the two North American species of flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus and G. volans (family Sciuridae).
In some forms not fully naturalized in English.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in John Smith (bap. 1580, d. 1631), soldier and colonial governor. In some forms from Virginia Algonquian assapanick, cognate with or similarly formed to Nanticoke ah!sappaneques (with further diminutive suffix) from the base of Narragansett ashòp net + the base of Narragansett anéqus squirrel.