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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5




Family : Sciuridae
Species : Hylopetes spadiceus

Head-Body Length : Up to 18 cm
Tail Length : Up to 16 cm
Weight : Up to 157 grams

The attractive Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel inhabits a variety of forest types, but is more commonly found in tall, lowland primary rainforest.

Their nesting holes are generally located towards the base of medium-sized trees : the squirrels appear to excavate their own nesting holes or inhabit holes made by other species, rather than inhabit natural tree holes. Reportedly, they have also been found nesting inside coconuts.

By day the entrance to the nesting hole is plugged with dry grass or other vegetation : this is removed at dusk when the squirrels emerge and quietly ascend to the canopy before feeding.

Their dorsal fur colour varies from dark grey or grey-brown to orange-red, and the gliding membrane is edged with white fur. The feather-like tail is dark grey to dark brown, the base of which is buff to orange. A small patch of reddish-brown fur occurs on the cheeks.

The species is wide-ranging, occurring in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

Figs 1 to 3 : These three squirrels were photographed leaving the same nesting hole at dusk. The third squirrel (Fig 3) still has its tail inside the tree hole.  Note the variation in fur colour and patterning between the three squirrels, the lowermost of which appears to be a juvenile.  Seen on Langkawi Island, northern Peninsular Malaysia.

Fig 4 : Typical nesting hole plugged with dead grass.

Fig 5 : Example from a nesting hole in a dying tree in freshwater swamp forest, Singapore.

References : M1, M2, M3