The range of Eupetaurus cinereus is restricted to the extreme northern portion of the Himilayas (Roberts 1977). All specimens have been collected from the rugged, mountainous region of northern Pakistan, but the range of E. cinereus is presumed to extend somewhat into Tibet (Nowak 1991).
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
Eupetaurus cinereus is known entirely from about ten specimens (Grzimek 1990). Like other flying squirrels, it has elastic membranes on each side of the body connecting the fore and hind legs (Prater 1965). It is slightly larger in size and has a shorter, bushier tail than the Giant Red Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista albiventer) which also inhabits Pakistan. Two E. cinereus specimens measured 61 cm and 51.5 cm, respectively, from head to base of tail. The larger specimen had a tail length of 38 cm, while the smaller had a tail measuring 48 cm. The body is covered by a dense coat of straight, silky hairs. The dorsal pelage appears blue-gray, while the underside is pale gray in color. Creamy white hairs cover the throat and ears, and dense, black fur covers the soles of the feet except for the naked, pinkish brown toe pads. The tail, bearing hairs of about 7.6 cm in length, is large and bulky and may be as broad as the animal's body (Roberts 1977). Molars have relatively high crowns compared to the low crowned, brachyodont molars of all other flying squirrel genera, and unlike other flying squirrels, the claws of E. cinereus are blunt and adapted for rocky terrain instead of an arboreal lifestyle (Blanford 1891).
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Within its range, E. cinereus dwells on rocky terrain at and above the timber line (Grzimek 1990). It probably ventures into the isolated pockets of conifer forest to forage (Roberts 1977).
Terrestrial Biomes: mountains
Habitat and Ecology
The high crowned molars of E. cinereus indicate a diet of extremely rough vegetation. It appears that much of the diet consists of buds and cones, particularly those of the native spruce, Picea morinda. At high elevations, Picea morinda begins producing buds in April and cones in late summer. The cones are shed in winter when the ground is covered by snow, meaning that, by early spring, food for E. cinereus may be in extremely short supply. During these hard times, E. cinereus probably turns to mosses and lichens as a main food source (Roberts, 1977).
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Very little is actually known about the reproduction of E. cinereus. An immature specimen was collected on April 17. This seems to indicate that breeding occurs early in the spring and that two litters may be produced each season (Roberts 1977). However, such conclusions are little more than speculation.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Eupetaurus cinereus was first described by Oldfield Thomas in 1888. Since that time, only a handful of specimens have been collected. Photographs of the species are equally rare. Because it inhabits a very limited range in an exceedingly hostile climate, our knowledge of E. cinereus is too limited to accurately determine the status of the population. However, it is reasonable to assume that E. cinereus has always been a relatively rare species, existing at low population densities (Roberts 1977).
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Listed as Endangered as it is very likely that Eupetaurus cinereus has had a reduction in population of 50% or more in the last 10 years, based on habitat loss in the region during this period (Hasan 2008, Rao and Marwat 2003). It is also possible that the species will continue to have its population reduced, perhaps by as much as 50% over the next 10 years, if further deforestation is not controlled. Much of this forest has been logged in recent times and estimates place the total extent of forest remaining in the entire northern areas in 2003 at about 2,800 km² (Rao and Marwat 2003), down by more than 50% in 10 years from over 6,600 km² in 1992 (Hasan 2008). Total population size is estimated between 1,000 and 3,000 individuals within the known range (Zahler and Woods 1997) and there is an estimated continuing decline of at least 20% within five years if current levels of deforestation are not controlled.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
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