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.

Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel

Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel / Idiurus macrotis
Idiurus macrotis

Order: Rodentia
Family: Anomaluridae

Description: A very small scaly-tailed squirrel with a slightly more robust build than the Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel and with darker fur. The upper surface has pale grey fur with brown tips, giving a brown-grey appearance, while its underparts have pale yellowish-brown fur with a light grey under-fur.

The ears and face are somewhat longer than the Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel and the tail is proportionately longer with sparse long hairs along its length and dense short fur underneath.

Distribution: Occurs in rainforests of western and central equatorial Africa from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and further east through Democratic Republic of the Congo (= Zaire) to Ituri Forest and eastern Congo. Its overall range is similar to the Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel but appears to be rarer in the eastern part of their ranges.

Reproduction: Nothing is known.

Diet: Nothing is known.

Ecology: It is known to sleep in large hollow trees in high deciduous forest during the day. Both the Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel and the Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel are gregarious, inhabiting certain hollow trees, to which they always return. In many cases the two species live together in the same tree to the number of 100 individuals.

If disturbed during the daytime they seem to be in no way disconcerted by the light, but issue forth from the holes, career about the surface of the trunk and branches, faster than mice on a level floor, and take to the air in clouds. They float away among the neighbouring trees like bits of soot from a chimney, steering themselves over and around obstacles with the facility of birds, and landing silently, 100 metres away, with little apparent loss of height.

Other animals have been observed to glide in a series of diminishing spirals and land on a portion of the trunk lower down. Both of the Idiurus species, unlike Anomalurus, glide very slowly, with the membranes taut and more-or-less flat. The species guides itself, rising, falling, turning to right or left, and effects a landing on a vertical surface by a graceful curve. It runs like a dog, with a leftright, right-left motion of the limbs. A translocated male was found to travel 790 metres. Population density has been found to be between 164–437 individuals per square kilometre.

Status: Least Concern.

Note: The Mbuti pygmies in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (= Zaire) believe this species may not be eaten by pregnant women, otherwise their baby might be born without a rectum, penis or vagina and vomit for their entire life.

Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel / Idiurus macrotis
Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel
Idiurus macrotis
Distribution: Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel
HB73–115 mm
TL105–140 mm
HF16–23 mm
M23–40 g

Other species:

Random species

Sugar Glider / Petaurus breviceps

Sugar Glider
Petaurus breviceps

Javanese Flying Squirrel / Iomys horsfieldi

Javanese Flying Squirrel
Iomys horsfieldi

Whiskered Flying Squirrel / Petinomys genibarbis

Whiskered Flying Squirrel
Petinomys genibarbis

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.