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.

Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel

Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista elegans
Petaurista elegans

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae, Pteromyini

Description: A large species but where it occurs with other giant flying squirrels it is always smaller. The fur on the back of its head, shoulders and back is black with clumped white frosting, giving the impression of spots. Towards its rump, the fur is dark rufous. There is a wide variety in the colouration of the fur between the subspecies.

Distribution: Around and on the eastern Himalayas in Bhutan, quite common between 3000–4000 metres. Also in south-eastern Tibet (= Xizang, China) (between 1200–1800 metres), east to central China and northern Burma. It also occurs in Thailand, Malay Peninsula and the islands of Java, Sumatra and Borneo.

On the Malay Peninsula the habitat includes primary forest and partially cut primary forest at elevations from 200–1500 metres, up to 3000 metres in south-western China. On Borneo it occurs on hill dipterocarp and lower montane forests, while on the Malay Peninsula it occurs in tall forests. It has been found in the Himalayas in rhododendron scrub and on rocky cliffs.

In Nepal it can be found in oak—rhododendron forest in central, midland, temperate and coniferous forests of the eastern midland.

Reproduction: Breeding occurs just before the rainy season. A single young is produced.

Diet: Includes seeds, fruit and leaves, although few details are known.

Ecology: In Thailand it nests in hollows in East Himalayan Fir (Abies spectabilis), lining its nest with ferns and leaves.

Status: Least Concern.

Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel / Petaurista elegans
Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel
Petaurista elegans
Distribution: Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel
HB296–375 mm
TL340–405 mm
HF50–68 mm
M840–1560 g

Petaurista elegans elegans — Java and Kembangan Island.

Petaurista elegans banksi — Borneo, known only from Gunung Kinabalu (1650 m) and the Crocker Range (1140 m) in Sabah; Gunung Dulit in Sarawak. Also on Bunguran Island, Natuna Islands North.

Petaurista elegans marica — Southern Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, China. Also occurs in Bhutan, northern and eastern Burma, Laos, Vietnam, western and southern Thailand, and into central Malay Peninsula.

Petaurista elegans sumatrana — Padang Highlands, western Sumatra and Rupat Island.

Other species:

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.