Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This widely distributed species has been recorded from northern South Asia, southern China and Southeast Asia. This species has a large distribution in South Asia, being recorded from eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, eastern Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and northern India at elevations of 500 to 3,100 m asl (Molur et al. 2005). In China, it has been recorded from Yunnan, Sichuan, Fujian, Guangxi and Guangdong (Smith and Xie 2008). In Southeast Asia, it is found on the mainland from Myanmar in the west, into western Thailand and south to Peninsular Malaysia. It is largely distributed in insular Southeast Asia on the island of Sumatra and Java (both to Indonesia) and Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia).
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Geographic Range

Petaurista petaurista ranges from the eastern border regions of Afghanistan to Java, and from Kashmir, Taiwan, and southern China to Sri Lanka. Its greatest numbers are found in the forest regions of Pakistan.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The giant flying squirrel has a distinctive, thickly haired flying membrane that extends from its wrists to its hind legs and is further expanded by a skin fold between the tail root and the hind legs. This membrane is composed of sheets of muscles that can be tensed or relaxed at will, thus controlling the direction of glide. In addition, there is a large spur on the edge of this membrane that helps to support it. Petaurista petaurista is characterized by its large eyes and mahogany-red coloring, though coloration varies with environment. Relative to other squirrels, this species is very large; its head and body lenth average 398mm and its tail adds an additional 422mm. Five digits, all of which have curved and sharp claws, are found on the hind feet and four are found on the forefeet.

Average mass: 1750 g.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is an arboreal and nocturnal species. It occurs in moist evergreen broadleaf forest, temperate forest, coniferous forests, scrub forest, rocky areas as inland cliffs, mountain peaks (Molur et al. 2005; Smith and Xie 2008).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Giant flying squirrels make their nests in the tree cavities of densely forested areas.

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The giant flying squirrel's diet primarily consists of pine cones, tree buds, leaves, young branches, and, when in season, various fruits and nuts. In captivity, individuals have been maintained on raisins and nuts, but refused shrubs and other leafy substances.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
16.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals, but one captive specimen lived 10.9 years (Richard Weigl 2005). There are also anecdotal reports of animals living over 16 years, which have not been confirmed.
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Reproduction

Because P. petaurista is a nocturnal animal, little is known about its reproductive activities. Evidence gathered thus far indicates that the species typically have 2-3 young per litter and wean them after about 2.5 months. The concealed nest is made by the mother. Mating is believed to occur twice a year and the young are generally born between early March and early August. The lifespan of these squirrels can be up to 16 years in captivity.

Average number of offspring: 1.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Walston, J., Duckworth, J.W., Sarker, S.U. & Molur, S.

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Cox, N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Assessed as Least Concern because it is a widespread species that is abundant in suitable habitat. While habitat conversion is occurring in unprotected parts of its, range the species occurs in numerous protected areas and is not experiencing significant decline within those protected areas.
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Within their geographic range, Petaurista petaurista are quite common. However, the cutting and burning of forest regions have significantly decreased the size of their habitats.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
It is often a locally common to abundant species.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Habitat conversion due to logging, agriculture, dam construction, infrastructure development and urbanization is occurring throughout the range of the species. It has been harvested for the pet and fur trade in South Asia (Molur et al. 2005).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is present in many protected areas (eg. Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India). This is considered to be a species complex for which taxonomic revision is needed. Surveys and monitoring are recommended for this species in South Asia (Molur et al. 2005).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The pelt of this species of squirrel is occasionally sold by local merchants in Murree and Rawalpindi.

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Wikipedia

Red giant flying squirrel

Distribution[edit]

The red giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista) is a species of flying squirrel, which ranges from the eastern regions of Afghanistan, into northern India and Pakistan through to Java, and Taiwan, and also Sri Lanka. It can also be found in parts of Borneo. This species was recorded in Peninsular Malaysia, included Penang, Tioman Island and also Singapore.[2] This species also recorded from many localities throughout Sabah and Sarawak, up to 900m on Mount Kinabalu, excluding the range of P. p. nigrescens, which is known only from the forests around Sandakan Bay north of Kinabatangan River.[3]

Giant flying squirrels (Petuarista sp.) have highest diversity in term of species richness and population diversity in Southeast Asia.[4]

Identification[edit]

P. p. grandis

Like all other species of flying squirrels, it has a membrane of skin between its legs, which is used to glide between trees. It is characterised by its dark red colouring and large eyes. When compared to other species of squirrels, this species is large, being on average 422mm long. Entire body dark reddish except for black on nose, chin, eye-ring, behind the ears, feet and tail tip.[5]

Ecology and habitat[edit]

In the wild, it feeds primarily on conifer cones, leaves and branches, and, when in season, fruits and nuts, and occasionally insects. It is able to glide for long distances. There have been reports of distances up to 75 metres (250 ft.) or greater; glide angles are generally 40-60 degrees from the horizontal, occasionally steeper for shorter glides. Their nest holes usually at least 10m above ground. The Red Giant Flying Squirrel is nocturnal and does not hibernate, but migrates to areas with more food. P. petaurista also able to explore secondary conifer plantations and use this habitat as feeding and resting areas.

P. petaurista is most active between sunset and midnight and the home range of adult females in conifer plantation was estimated to be 3.2ha[6]

The red giant flying squirrel is believed to mate twice a year but females usually breed once a year. The young are born in February and August in litters of one to two.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walston, J., Duckworth, J. W., Sarkur, S. U. & Molur, S. (2008). Petaurista petaurista. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  2. ^ Khan, M.M. (1992). Mamalia Semenanjung Malaysia. Department of Wildlife and National Parks,Kuala Lumpur.
  3. ^ Payne,J., C.M. Francis and K.Philips (1985). A field guide to mammals of Borneo. The Sabah Society and World Wild Fund, Kota Kinabalu
  4. ^ Hanocki,H.J.,Kinman,K.E.& Koeppl, J.W.(1982). Mammals Species of The World:A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Lawrence, Kansas:Allen Press, Inc and The Assoc. of Systematic Collection.
  5. ^ Payne,J., C.M. Francis and K.Philips (1985). A field guide to mammals of Borneo. The Sabah Society and World Wild Fund, Kota Kinabalu.
  6. ^ Lin,Y.S.,Wang,L.Y. & Lee, L.L. (1988). The behaviour and activity pattern of giant squirrels(Petaurista p.grandis).Quarterly Journal of Chinese Forestry, 21:81
  7. ^ Lee,P.F., Lin,Y.S., Progulske,D.R. (1993). Reproductive Biology of the Red-Giant Flying Squirrel, Petaurista petaurista, in Taiwan. Journal of Mammalogy, 74:982-989
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