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.

White-bellied Giant Flying Squirrel

White-bellied Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista albiventer
Petaurista albiventer

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: A large species with long, thick, silky fur on the upper part of its body, coloured a dark mahogany red with white speckling. The gliding membrane and tail are dark brown and its underparts are off-white to pale buff. Its throat is usually white. In the Kaghan Valley of Pakistan there is a melanistic population — it has unusually dark colouration.

Distribution: Appears to be confined to the Himalayan moist temperate forests of north-eastern Afghanistan (Konar, Badakhshan and Laghman provinces), Kohistan and Punjab provinces of northern Pakistan, Punjab State in northern India, and Nepal.

It has also been recorded in south-eastern Tibet and Yunnan Province, China. A second subspecies is restricted to northern central Thailand. It occurs from about 1350 metres to the upper limit of the tree-line at approximately 3050 metres.

Reproduction: hing is known.

Diet: Eats mainly leaves of preferred species such as Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana), Tilonj Oak (Quercus floribunda), Pindrow Fir (Abies pindrow), Himalayan Poplar (Populus ciliata) and Himalayan Elm (Ulmus wallichiana). Its diet is supplemented with flowers and buds, pine cones, fruit, lichens and bark, moss and seeds.

It prefers various fruits and nuts, if available, particularly those of the Hill Oak (Quercus dilatata) in October and, in July, Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus indica) and Walnuts (Juglans regia) when the nuts are very small and immature.

Ecology: Nests in hollows in a variety of coniferous tree species in Pakistan including Pindrow Fir, Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) and Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana). Nests have also been found in deciduous trees including Himalayan Maple (Acer caesium), Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus indica), oaks (Quercus spp.) and Himalayan Elm.

It spends the day lying curled up asleep in a tree hollow that is typically a considerable distance off the ground. It does not hibernate but remains active even in conditions of deep snowfall. Some individuals undergo limited altitudinal migration where suitable forest is available.

In Pakistan, the Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula) and the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) appear to be its main predators.

Status: Not Evaluated.

Note: This species was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Red Giant Flying Squirrel.

White-bellied Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista albiventer
White-bellied Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista albiventer
Distribution: White-bellied Giant Flying Squirrel
HB326–550 mm
TL390–450 mm
HF65–82 mm
M1100–1800 g
Subspecies:

Petaurista albiventer albiventer — Appears to be confined to the Himalayan moist temperate forests of northern north-eastern Afghanistan (probably Konar, Badakhshan and Laghman provinces), Kohistan and Punjab Provinces of northern Pakistan, Punjab State in northern India and Nepal. It has also been recorded in south-eastern Tibet and Yunnan Province, China.

Petaurista albiventer barroni — North to at least Phitsanulok in northern Thailand to south-east Thailand.

Other species:


Random species

Black Flying Squirrel / Aeromys tephromelas

Black Flying Squirrel
Aeromys tephromelas

Flying Squirrel / Iomys sipora Mentawai

Flying Squirrel
Iomys sipora Mentawai


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.