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.

Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel

Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel / Idiurus zenkeri
Idiurus zenkeri

Order: Rodentia
Family: Anomaluridae

Description: A very small glider resembling a silky-furred, tawny-coloured, snub-nosed mouse, with a membrane like those of the larger anomalures. Its very long tail (longer than head—body) is fringed on the underside by two rows of short stiff hairs.

It also has sparse, very long hairs on the upperside of the tail. It utters a shrill, mouse-like squeak and is a very efficient, fast and agile glider.

Distribution: Occurs in equatorial rainforests in Cameroon, south-western Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo to Democratic Republic of the Congo (= Zaire). Also occurs between the River Aruwimi and north-east to east Democratic Republic of the Congo to the foothills of Ruwenzori and Kivu to Lake Kivu and west Uganda. In Cameroon it has never been seen at higher elevations than the foothills.

Reproduction: Nothing is known.

Diet: Includes oil-palm fruits, nuts, occasionally insects and possibly exudates or nectar. Although nothing is known of its feeding behaviour, it has been suggested that it may travel many kilometres in a night to feed. The notched upper incisors project out of the mouth, which may indicate that its food requires sharp chiselling.

Ecology: Sleeps in large hollow trees in high deciduous forest. There are reports that it may share them with Pel’s Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel and the Cyclops Roundleaf Bat (Hipposideros cyclops). It has also been found living with the slightly larger Long-eared Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel, with one tree containing as many as 100 individuals. Colonies have been found in trees of the genera Klainedoxa, Pseudoprosopis, Paramacrolobium, Gilbertiodendron and Pentaclethra.

Status: Least Concern. Clear felling and other logging operations in the centre of its range must be eliminating it from some areas.

Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel / Idiurus zenkeri
Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel
Idiurus zenkeri
Distribution: Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel
HB62–90 mm
TL70–130 mm
HF15–19 mm
M14–18 g

Other species:


Random species

Malayan Colugo / Galeopterus variegatus

Malayan Colugo
Galeopterus variegatus

Bartel’s Flying Squirrel / Hylopetes bartelsi

Bartel’s Flying Squirrel
Hylopetes bartelsi

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista philippensis

Indian Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista philippensis

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.