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.

Arrow-tailed Flying Squirrel

Arrow-tailed Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes sagitta
Hylopetes sagitta

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: The fur on its upper parts is blackish or dark grey-brown with rust-coloured to bright orange tips, especially in the midline. Its underparts are white or buff-white on grey under-fur. The upper side of its gliding membrane is black with a thin white margin.

Its tail is distinctly flattened and somewhat broader at the base than at the tip, and is blackish with a buff or orange-brown base and can have a white tip. Its feet are yellowish-brown and its underparts are creamy white. Its cheeks are greyish, often with an orange tinge and there is a pale patch behind the ear. It has a pale grey patch on each side of the base of its tail, often tinged with yellow but never distinctly orange.

The Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel has orange cheeks and base of the tail, while Vordermann’s Flying Squirrel has a buff-coloured margin to the gliding membrane.

Distribution: Occurs on Java and on Bangka Island in Indonesia. It is common in primary and secondary forest with some records near fruit and rubber plantations.

Reproduction: Nothing is known.

Diet: Captive specimens have been found to eat various food items such as rambutan, apple, grape, guava, rolled oats and bread. One captive animal also caught a 25 centimetre Vine Snake (Ahaetulla sp.), chewed its head off and ate it all from the tail upwards.

Ecology: Emits a loud ‘keurr, keurr, keurr, keurr’ noise that appears to express pleasure, annoyance and fear depending on the tone used which can be gentle, harsh or pained. Males appear to show significant territoriality as fights between males in captivity have resulted in a number of deaths. Glides as long as 137 metres have been observed.

Status: Data Deficient.

Note: Records of this species in Borneo probably refer to the Grey-cheeked Flying Squirrel.

Arrow-tailed Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes sagitta
Arrow-tailed Flying Squirrel
Hylopetes sagitta
Distribution: Arrow-tailed Flying Squirrel
HB117–160 mm
TL85–145 mm
HF22–30 mm
M50–97 g

Hylopetes sagitta sagitta — Java, Indonesia.

Hylopetes sagitta aurantiacus — Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Other species:

Grey-cheeked Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes platyurus
Grey-cheeked Flying Squirrel

Hylopetes platyurus

Sipora Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes sipora
Sipora Flying Squirrel

Hylopetes sipora

Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes spadiceus
Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel

Hylopetes spadiceus

Random species

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.