Glider Facts

  • Gliding mammals include the flying squirrels of America and Asia, the scaly-tailed squirrels of Africa, and the marsupial gliding possums of Australia.
  • The Australian feather-tailed glider is the smallest gliding mammal, weighing just 12 g.
  • Gliding mammals achieve their glides by means of a hairy membrane called a patagium that joins the fore and hind limbs, and acts like a parachute.
  • The Southeast Asian colugo’s glide membrane stretches from the neck to fingers, toes and tail-tip.
  • When flying squirrels come in to land on a tree trunk, they brake by turning their tail and body under, like the landing flaps on an aircraft’s wing.
  • Africa’s scaly-tailed flying squirrels live in colonies of up to 100, and glide from tree to tree after dark.
  • The colugo (also known as a flying lemur) is about the size of a domestic cat. It has sharp claws for climbing and mottled fur for camouflage.
  • Australia’s gliders feed on sap and gum, biting through tree bark and lapping up the sweet liquids.
  • Some flying squirrels, when they land, quickly move to the opposite side of the tree trunk to avoid predators.
  • The colugo is virtually helpless on the ground.
  • The southern flying squirrel fluffs out its tail and uses it as a rudder in mid-air.
  • The longest glide by a gliding mammal ever recorded was 450 m by a giant flying squirrel.