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.
There are three lineages of gliding marsupials within the possum Suborder Phalangerida. They are placed within three different families, each of which has gliding and non-gliding members.
The Feathertail Glider is placed within the Family Acrobatidae, which includes the non-gliding Feathertail Possum (Distoechurus pennatus) from New Guinea. Most of the gliding marsupials occur within the Family Petauridae in the genus Petaurus, which includes six living species.
This family also includes the non-gliding Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) and the four species of striped possum of the genus Dactylopsila that occur in New Guinea, with one of these species also occurring in Australia.
The third family, Pseudocheiridae, has the Greater Glider, along with some 17 species of non-gliding ringtail possum, including the Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) which is a familiar resident to many Australian backyards.