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.

Gray-headed Giant Flying Squirrel

Gray-headed Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista caniceps
Petaurista caniceps

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: The upper parts of this species are blackish-brown, varied with reddish-brown. The hairs are long, dark blackish, with red tips. The outside of its legs are redder and reddish-yellow beneath. Its head is iron-grey in colouration with longer, black interspersed hairs; its throat is white and its chin black.

There is a small, red crescent-shaped spot on the upper edge of each eye and bright-red roundish spots near the base of its ears.

Distribution: Occurs through the Himalayas from Nepal, Sikkim (India), Bhutan and south-eastern Tibet (= Xizang, China) at altitudes of 1200–1800 metres; east to Yunnan and Sichuan (China); and in northern Burma.

It occupies oak and rhododendron forests from 2100–3600 metres, and temperate and alpine coniferous habitats from 3000–3600 metres.

Reproduction: Little is known of its breeding habits. It is thought the female gives birth to only a single young, although there are records of twins.

Diet: Rhododendron leaves, buds and fir cones.

Ecology: Nests in the hollows of oak trees or builds a nest of ferns in tall rhododendron and fir trees.

Status: Not Evaluated.

Note: This species was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel, however it differs by not having any dorsal spots.

Gray-headed Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista caniceps
Gray-headed Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista caniceps
Distribution: Gray-headed Giant Flying Squirrel
HB300–370 mm
TL360–400 mm
HF61–67 mm
M800–1500 g
Subspecies:

Petaurista caniceps caniceps — Nepal, Bhutan, southeastern Tibet and Sikkim, northern West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.

Petaurista caniceps clarkei — Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces, China, and northern Burma.

Petaurista caniceps gorkhali — Gorka region in central Nepal and adjacent southern Tibet (=Xizang).

Petaurista caniceps sybilla — Northern Burma mountains and adjacent western Yunnan and southern Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces, China.

There are also two undescribed forms that occur in Guangxi and Hunan; and Hubei, Shaanxi and Gansu respectively.

Other species:


Random species

Feathertail Glider / Acrobates pygmaeus

Feathertail Glider
Acrobates pygmaeus

Flying Squirrel / Iomys sipora Mentawai

Flying Squirrel
Iomys sipora Mentawai

Smoky Flying Squirrel / Pteromyscus pulverulentus

Smoky Flying Squirrel
Pteromyscus pulverulentus


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.