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.

Kashmir Flying Squirrel

Kashmir Flying Squirrel / Eoglaucomys fimbriatus
Eoglaucomys fimbriatus

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: A medium-sized glider with buff-brown fur suffused with black, giving it a grizzled appearance. Its underside is creamy white, varying to dull greyish-buff. Its sandy red tail is broad and flattened, tapering to a point with an extensive black tip. The outer edges of its hind feet have a thick brush of hairs extending from the tarsal joint to the base of the fifth toe.

Distribution: Occurs in north-eastern Afghanistan between 1600–4000 metres in evergreen oak and conifer regions. It is also found in the northern North West Frontier Province (including Indus Kohistan) and the Northern Areas down to the foothills of Punjab (including Diamer, Gilgit and Islamabad Districts) in Pakistan, in Kashmir, and in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh in northern India.

It inhabits forests containing Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana), Morinda Spruce (Picea smithiana), and is widespread in drier forest zones characterised by Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) and Holly Oak (Quercus ilex), which occur in southern Chitral and many parts of Dir and Swat Kohistan. In the Himalayas it is confined to moist temperate forest, which has a mixture of deciduous and coniferous tree species. During winter it may descend into the tropical pine forest zone to 900 metres elevation.

Reproduction: A female may have two litters a year. The young appear to be born mainly in summer months in litters of three or four, and reach full size by early November.

Diet: Feeds primarily from Blue Pine, Horse Chestnut (Aesculus indica), Himalayan Poplar (Populus ciliata) and Pindrow Fir (Abies pindrow), eating mainly buds and flowers in spring, fruits in summer and autumn, and buds and shoots in winter.

It supplements its diet with pine cones, seeds, leaves, bark, lichen and moss. It appears to be fond of the acorns of the holly oak as well as walnuts. It also eats the young shoots, buds and seeds of young fir trees (especially those of the silver fir in September and October), and will eat the cones of the Blue Pine.

Ecology: Nests within tree holes and caves on surprisingly barren, steep cliffs between 3800–4000 metres, where there is little vegetation other than the occasional scrubby birch or juniper.

It also nests in a variety of coniferous tree species including Pindrow Fir, Deodar Cedar, Morinda Spruce, Blue Pine and Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana), and in deciduous trees including Himalayan Maple (Acer caesium), Horse Chestnuts, Dogwood (Cornus macrophylla), Himalayan Poplar, Himalayan Bird Cherry (Prunus cornuta), Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum), Indian Willow (Salix tetrasperma) and Himalayan Elm (Ulmus wallichiana).

It may also nest in human dwellings, such as under the roofs of forest bungalows. Glides of over 50 metres have been recorded and it is thought it can glide a considerably greater distance than this down slopes. Predators probably include the Yellowthroated Marten (Martes flavigula) and Scull’s Wood Owl (Strix aluco biddulphi).

Status: Least Concern.

Kashmir Flying Squirrel / Eoglaucomys fimbriatus
Kashmir Flying Squirrel
Eoglaucomys fimbriatus
Distribution: Kashmir Flying Squirrel
HB235–297 mm
TL252–330 mm
HF52–70 mm
M300–666 g

Eoglaucomys fimbriatus fimbriatius — Northern Punjab Province (Pakistan) and Kashmir east to Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, in northern India.

Eoglaucomys fimbriatus baberi — North-eastern Afghanistan in the Khost and Nangarhar provinces east to the North West Frontier and Federal Control regions of northern Pakistan. This subspecies is similar in appearance to Eoglaucomys fimbriatus fimbriatius but markedly larger.

Other species:

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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.