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.

Squirrel Glider

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis
Petaurus norfolcensis

Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Petauridae

Description: Its upper parts are a soft grey, with its face a lighter grey; a welldefined dark brown or black band runs from between its eyes along its back. Its fur is soft and silky, and its tail is very bushy, especially towards the base, where the hairs often attain a length of about 60 millimetres.

It is similar in appearance to the Sugar Glider but larger, with a longer, more pointed face, longer and narrower ears, and much bushier tail (especially at the base). Its underparts are usually rich white, cream, yellow through to dark mustard but its fur does not have grey at the base like the Sugar Glider. White ventral fur is usually only present in juveniles in north-east New South Wales and south-east Queensland.

Distribution: Occurs from north Queensland down the east coast into central Victoria, with several isolated populations being found in south-eastern South Australia. The preferred habitat is dry eucalypt open forest or woodland; it is absent from the dense coastal ranges.

In northern New South Wales and Queensland it is found in some dry forest bordering swamp rainforest. In Victoria it inhabits remnant woodlands or open forests which have mature or mixed-age stands of more than one eucalypt species, or open forests of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) along watercourses.

Reproduction: The breeding season is variable but births peak between May and December. One or two young are born at a time; the average litter size is 1.7 young. It nests in socially monogamous groups or mixed-sex social groups of up to six in leaf-lined tree hollows, primarily within species of eucalypts. It also nests within dead trees as well as a variety of living trees such as Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Lophostemon and occasionally Acacia.

In some localities they can be socially monogamous, but more likely polygynous, with groups composed of up to two males, of which only one is mature (more than three years of age), and two or more females with their offspring. They do not display any territoriality (although they may defend a core area). They have a home range of 0.7–15 hectares (typically between 2.9–8.8 hectares) and a density estimates range from 0.35–1.54 animals per hectare.

Diet: Nectar and pollen from various myrtaceous trees such as Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Lophostemon, Melaleuca, Banksia and Angophora. It also feeds on the gum, seeds and arils of Acacia, as well as as beetles, moth larvae, caterpillars and spiders. Honeydew, lerps and lichens are also included. It has been observed to take the eggs of a Bronzewing Pigeon (Phaps chalcoptrera), a Magpie Lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) and a Noisy Minor (Manorina melanocephala).

Ecology: Makes a variety of calls including monosyllabic or polysyllabic nasal grunts which appear to help regulate individual spacing by facilitating mutual avoidance. It also makes threatening calls during scuffles and chases, and when being preyed upon.

Status: Least Concern. However, is considered vulnerable in New South Wales, threatened in Victoria and endangered in South Australia.

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis
Squirrel Glider
Petaurus norfolcensis
Distribution: Squirrel Glider
HB180–244 mm
TL220–300 mm
HF30–47 mm
M173–300 g

Other species:

Sugar Glider / Petaurus breviceps
Sugar Glider

Petaurus breviceps

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis
Mahogany Glider

Petaurus gracilis

Greater Glider / Petauroides volans
Greater Glider

Petauroides volans

Philippine Colugo / Cynocephalus volans
Philippine Colugo

Cynocephalus volans

Random species

Philippine Colugo / Cynocephalus volans

Philippine Colugo
Cynocephalus volans

Northern Flying Squirrel / Glaucomys sabrinus

Northern Flying Squirrel
Glaucomys sabrinus

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.