Logo: Gliding mammals of the world

The world’s gliding mammals are an extraordinary group of animals that have the ability to glide from tree to tree with seemingly effortless grace. There are more than 60 species of gliding mammals including the flying squirrels from Europe and North America, the scaly-tailed flying squirrels from central Africa and the gliding possums of Australia and New Guinea.

Families: Petauridae

Petauridae
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Infraclass:Marsupialia
Order:Diprotodontia
Superfamily:Petauroidea
Family:Petauridae

The family Petauridae includes 11 medium-sized possum species: four striped possums, six species of wrist-winged gliders in the genus Petaurus and Leadbeater’s possum, which has only vestigial gliding membranes. Most of the wrist-winged gliders are native to Australia, most of the striped possums (genus Dactylopsila) to New Guinea, but some members of each are found on both sides of the Torres Strait.

All petaurids have obvious facial markings, a well-defined dorsal stripe, very large lower front incisors, and four-cusped molars. Despite their distinctive appearance, petaurids are closely related to the ringtail possums (family Pseudocheiridae) and are grouped together with them to form the superfamily Petauroidea.

The wrist-winged gliders are omnivorous, specialising on sap and nectar, but taking a wide variety of supplemental foods. The gliders appears to have evolved in the open forests of Australia — gliding membranes are an adaptation which aids mobility when the forest canopy is incomplete, and are of little use in rainforests — but now has representatives in New Guinea and many of the smaller islands nearby. Their similarities to the unrelated flying squirrels are an example of convergent evolution.

Species:


Northern Glider / Petaurus abidi
Northern Glider

Petaurus abidi

Yellow-bellied Glider / Petaurus australis
Yellow-bellied Glider

Petaurus australis

Biak Glider / Petaurus biacensis
Biak Glider

Petaurus biacensis

Sugar Glider / Petaurus breviceps
Sugar Glider

Petaurus breviceps

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis
Mahogany Glider

Petaurus gracilis

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis
Squirrel Glider

Petaurus norfolcensis


Random species

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis

Squirrel Glider
Petaurus norfolcensis

Flying Squirrel / Iomys sipora Mentawai

Flying Squirrel
Iomys sipora Mentawai

Basilan Flying Squirrel / Petinomys crinitus

Basilan Flying Squirrel
Petinomys crinitus

Mindanao Flying Squirrel / Petinomys mindanensis

Mindanao Flying Squirrel
Petinomys mindanensis


Gliding Mammals of the World provides, for the first time, a synthesis of all that is known about the biology of these intriguing mammals. It includes a brief description of each species, together with a distribution map and a beautiful full-color painting.

An introduction outlines the origins and biogeography of each group of gliding mammals and examines the incredible adaptations that allow them to launch themselves and glide from tree to tree.