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 )
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.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 1750 g.
Habitat and Ecology
Giant flying squirrels make their nests in the tree cavities of densely forested areas.
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
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.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 16.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average number of offspring: 1.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The pelt of this species of squirrel is occasionally sold by local merchants in Murree and Rawalpindi.
Red giant flying squirrel
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. 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.
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.
Ecology and habitat
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
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.
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