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.

Travancore Flying Squirrel

Travancore Flying Squirrel / Petinomys fuscocapillus
Petinomys fuscocapillus

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: The upper parts of this medium-sized glider are rufous or darkbrownish, the hairs being greyish with a brownish-yellow tip. The fur of its head is darker and more grey, while its lower parts are rufous-white, as are the cheeks and under lip.

Its ears are small, almost with no fur. The margin of its gliding membrane is reddish grey and the bushy tail is black above, with a whitish tip. Its underparts are blackish-brown.

Distribution: Occurs in southern India and Sri Lanka. A spotlight survey in the Western Ghats in south-western India found only three specimens, which were all in evergreen forests. This species was considered extinct until 1989 when it was rediscovered in coconut groves of coastal Kerala State, India.

Reproduction: The female is thought to produce two young.

Diet: In the Periyar Tiger Reserve in south-western India, its diet includes the fruit of Artocarpus gomesianus, Ficus exaspirata, Ficus beddomei, Edana (Olea dioicea), Mango (Mangifera indica), Plum (Flacourtia sp.) and Kannada (Palaquium ellipticum).

It also eats the flowers of Mallotus tetracoccus, Karana (Vernonia arborea) and Melicope lunuankenda. It is known to eat tender coconuts and can cause serious damage to coconut plantations.

Ecology: In southern India there were 70 individuals per square kilometre in one degraded small fragment, and as few as 19 individuals per square kilometre in a very large and undisturbed fragment. In the Western Ghats, only one glider was seen per 10–20 hours of spotlighting. Farmers give coconuts as rewards in the Trichur District to those who kill flying squirrels.

Status: Near Threatened.

Travancore Flying Squirrel / Petinomys fuscocapillus
Travancore Flying Squirrel
Petinomys fuscocapillus
Distribution: Travancore Flying Squirrel
HB187–320 mm
TL244–290 mm
HF50–55 mm
M300–712 g

Other species:


Yunnan Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista yunanensis
Yunnan Giant Flying Squirrel

Petaurista yunanensis

Basilan Flying Squirrel / Petinomys crinitus
Basilan Flying Squirrel

Petinomys crinitus

Whiskered Flying Squirrel / Petinomys genibarbis
Whiskered Flying Squirrel

Petinomys genibarbis

Random species

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis

Mahogany Glider
Petaurus gracilis

Grey-cheeked Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes platyurus

Grey-cheeked Flying Squirrel
Hylopetes platyurus

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.