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.

Mahogany Glider

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis
Petaurus gracilis

Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Petauridae

Description: Distinctive for its large size, long, relatively short-haired tail, and buff to mahogany-brown belly. It is easily distinguished from the smaller Squirrel Glider that occurs nearby (but does not appear to overlap with it), and may be distinguished from the much smaller Sugar Glider by its much greater length and body mass.

Distribution: With one of the smallest natural distributions of any mammal, the Mahogany Glider occurs only in the narrow, highly fragmented band of vegetation from the Hull River near Tully to Ollera Creek (some 40 kilometres south of Ingham) in north Queensland, Australia. This is an area with a total distance of only 122 kilometres north to south and some 5–10 kilometres wide. Its distribution is largely surrounded by the Squirrel Glider which is known to occur within 26 kilometres to the south, west and north-west.

Neither species appears to occur in the extensive rainforest to the north. Within its region, the Mahogany Glider is found in open woodland composed of a diversity trees including Eucalyptus, Lophostemon, Melaleuca, Corymbia, Acacia and Albizia. Its occurrence appears to be correlated with the presence of Clarkson’s Bloodwood (Corymbia clarksoniana), Poplar Gum (Eucalyptus platyphylla) and open habitat with a small mid and upper canopy cover.

Reproduction: Breeds between April and September/October. One or two young are born at a time; the average litter size is 1.55.

Diet: Nectar and pollen from trees such a Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Melaleuca and insects. It feeds also on sap from White Siris (Albizia procera), Black Wattle (Acacia mangium), Northern Wattle (Acacia crassicarpa) and Red Wattle (Acacia flavescens), acacia arils (including those from Acacia flavescens), and mistletoe fruit from Amyema and Dendrophthoe. It relies on the seasonal cycles of flowering and fruiting to provide the different food items sequentially throughout the year.

Ecology: Makes its den during the day in leaf-lined hollows of various species of trees including Poplar Gum, Blue Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), Clarkson’s Bloodwood, Pink Bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia), Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca viridiflora) and Silver-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca dealbata) where there are five or six dens for females and males respectively.

The average home range within continuous habitat is approximately 20 hectares; an individual may travel 590–3420 (average 1500) metres per night. The average density of animals is 0.24 per hectare in continuous habitat and 0.16 per hectare in fragmented habitat. The typical overlap between home ranges of their den mates is 86 per cent compared with only 11 per cent with non-paired individuals, suggesting they form socially monogamous pairs.

Status: Endangered due to the large amount of its habitat which has been cleared, the small amount of habitat protected within national parks, and the high likelihood of further clearing.

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis
Mahogany Glider
Petaurus gracilis
Distribution: Mahogany Glider
HB215–265 mm
TL300–390 mm
HF37–43 mm
M255–500 g

Other species:

Biak Glider / Petaurus biacensis
Biak Glider

Petaurus biacensis

Sugar Glider / Petaurus breviceps
Sugar Glider

Petaurus breviceps

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis
Squirrel Glider

Petaurus norfolcensis

Greater Glider / Petauroides volans
Greater Glider

Petauroides volans

Random species

Kashmir Flying Squirrel / Eoglaucomys fimbriatus

Kashmir Flying Squirrel
Eoglaucomys fimbriatus

Particolored Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes alboniger

Particolored Flying Squirrel
Hylopetes alboniger

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.