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.

Greater Glider

Greater Glider / Petauroides volans
Petauroides volans

Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Pseudocheiridae

Description: The largest of the gliding marsupials, it has soft, silky fur with large and prominent ears. There are two colour morphs; one is a general dark, ash-grey of variable tone, and is sometimes nearly black all over; approximately 20 per cent are pale grey in colouration. A pure white morph is reasonably common with most populations appearing to have some individuals with this colouration.

Unlike the lesser gliders of the genus Petaurus, its back does not have any distinct markings or stripes. The whole of its underparts are white or pale yellowish. Its tail is very long, evenly furred all the way along, coloured ash-grey or blackish, darkening towards the end. The Greater Glider is distinguished from other marsupial gliders by its gliding membrane that extends from the elbow to its ankle, rather than from its wrist to its ankle.

Distribution: Inhabits the east coast of Australia from south-east Queensland to central Victoria, where it occurs in a variety of eucalypt dominated habitats, ranging from low, open forests on the coast to tall forests in the ranges and low woodland westwards of the Great Dividing Range.

Reproduction: The mating system of some populations is polygynous while others are socially monogamous. Within their home range they nest within different species of eucalypts. The breeding season is short, beginning in March, with births occurring from April to June.

The single young emerges from the pouch after 90–120 days and may be carried on the female’s back for a further 90 days. Both males and females are sexually mature in their second year of age.

Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on Eucalyptus leaves. Within any particular area it generally feeds on only a few species; however, throughout its entire range, it feeds on a number of species of eucalypts. It has been known to feed on young cones and buds of the introduced Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata).

Ecology: Generally solitary with a home range of 1.1–19.3 hectares for males and 0.91–3.0 hectares for females. Unlike the lesser gliders, this species is silent and probably communicates primarily through scent marking. The Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) is a significant predator.

Status: Least Concern.

Note: The subspecies Petauroides volans minor and an additional previously described form are likely to be recognised as distinct species in the future.

Greater Glider / Petauroides volans
Greater Glider
Petauroides volans
Distribution: Greater Glider
HB350–450 mm
TL450–600 mm
HF43–54 mm
M1000–1700 g

Petauroides volans volans — Tropic of Capricorn in central Queensland to central Victoria in eastern Australia.

Petauroides volans minor — North of the Tropic of Capricorn in eastern Australia.

Other species:

Mahogany Glider / Petaurus gracilis
Mahogany Glider

Petaurus gracilis

Squirrel Glider / Petaurus norfolcensis
Squirrel Glider

Petaurus norfolcensis

Philippine Colugo / Cynocephalus volans
Philippine Colugo

Cynocephalus volans

Malayan Colugo / Galeopterus variegatus
Malayan Colugo

Galeopterus variegatus

Random species

Namdapha Flying Squirrel / Biswamoyopterus biswasi

Namdapha Flying Squirrel
Biswamoyopterus biswasi

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.