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Red Giant Flying Squirrel
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3

 

Order : RODENTIA
Family : Sciuridae
Species : Petaurista petaurista

Head-Body Length : Up to 52 cm
Tail Length : Up to 60 cm
Weight : Up to 2.9 kg

The Red Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista) is amongst the largest of flying squirrels in Southeast Asia. It is predominantly nocturnal and inhabits primary or tall secondary forest, though it will also make use of adjacent heavily disturbed forest where tree cover is less dense (this species is able to glide great distances between trees, reportedly up to 100 metres or so).

The species nests in tree holes, and its diet includes fresh, young leaves and various forest fruits and seeds.

Illustrated here is the typical form from Peninsular Malaysia (P. p. melanotus), which is dark brown above, orange below, with a black snout, black feet and a black tip to its tail.  Other subspecies, for example in parts of Thailand, exhibit pale speckling on the head, and whitish underparts.

The body of this squirrel is robust, and its tail long, furry and round in cross-section. At rest the tail hangs freely down, but when disturbed it may be curved over its back.

The Red Giant Flying Squirrel ranges at least from northern parts of India and Nepal, through parts of southern China, Burma and Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. In Singapore it may be locally extinct, having not been reported since 1986.


Fig 1 : Adult female and juvenile in typical resting posture, high in the forest canopy.

Fig 2 : An inquisitive juvenile looks out from its treehole at dusk.

Fig 3 : An adult female readying herself to leave her treehole at nightfall.

All photos from Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia.


References : M2, M3, M5