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.

Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel

Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista magnificus
Petaurista magnificus

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: A large flying squirrel with reddish-chestnut to maroon fur which is grizzled with white. It has a dark brown stripe running from its head to the base of its tail.

This contrasts strongly with distinct yellowish to cream-buff patches on its shoulders which are bordered laterally by deep russet sides and gliding membranes. Its underside and feet are a light rufous to ochraceous colour, with the tail being a deep brown at the base, shading into rufous for most of the length until it reaches the black tip.

Distribution: Occurs from Nepal and Sikkim to the Darjeeling District (northern West Bengal) in India. It is also found in southern Tibet (= Xizang) and Bhutan. A specimen has been found in Donglee (Tonglee) gully in the Himalayas.

It appears to prefer deciduous forests to true evergreen forests in northern India (at an elevation of 1800–2700 metres), while in Nepal it has been discovered at approximately 2600 metres.

Reproduction: Not much is known except that at the time when the young are born, only the mother and young occupy the nest.

Diet: Feeds on acorns, chestnuts, other hard fruit and young leaves and shoots. In Nepal it has been seen feeding on bark exuding a gummy secretion. It also feeds avidly on insects, particularly termites, and sometimes on fresh grass, especially newly sprouting grass during March.

Ecology: Spends the day in a shelter hole in a tree at a height of approximately 5–15 metres. Within the entrance of the nest, a vertical shaft extends to a nesting chamber lined with moss, fur and soft materials. At night, it usually emerges with a low and monotonous booming call, which appears to attract others in the neighbourhood.

Status: Least Concern.

Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista magnificus
Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista magnificus
Distribution: Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel
HB359–420 mm
TL415–550 mm
HF72–78 mm
Mc. 1350–1780 g

Other species:


Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista leucogenys
Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel

Petaurista leucogenys

Red Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista petaurista
Red Giant Flying Squirrel

Petaurista petaurista

Random species

Northern Glider / Petaurus abidi

Northern Glider
Petaurus abidi

Flying Squirrel / Iomys sipora Mentawai

Flying Squirrel
Iomys sipora Mentawai

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista philippensis

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista philippensis


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.