Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia
  

 

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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3

 

 

 

 

Order : RODENTIA
Family : Sciuridae
Species : Petaurista elegans

Head-Body Length : Up to 36 cm
Tail Length : Up to 36 cm
Weight : Up to 1.0 kg

The Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel, sometimes confusingly called the 'Lesser Giant Flying Squirrel', inhabits a variety of forest types in its broad range including coniferous forest and tropical rainforest.

It is generally confined to hilly and montane areas at elevations of up to 3000 to 4000 metres, and is only occasional found in the lowlands. The species appears to be strictly nocturnal, only appearing after dusk, and is known to nest in treeholes and on rock ledges.

Its fur colour varies between different populations from a rich, rufous, orange-brown to  grey or yellowish grey. Its underside may be  buff, orange or brown, and its tail colour may vary.

Thorington et al (2012) recognise 8 subspecies, 7 of which occur in Southeast Asia (however, 2 of these subspecies, which occur in western Burma and parts of the Indian subcontinent, may be distinct species).

Pictured here are three specimens of the subspecies P. e. punctatus, which inhabits southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia. This subspecies bears a black tail and is normally  heavily flecked with white (though the specimen in figure 2 has very few white spots). These squirrels were heard to call each other with a soft whistle.

The Spotted Giant Flying Squirrel has an extensive range which stretches from Nepal and Bhutan to Burma, southern China, Thailand, Indochina (Laos, Vietnam), Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and parts of northern Borneo. The species has not been recorded in Singapore.


Figs 1 to 3 : Three different specimens from Peninsular Malaysia, at an elevation of 1100 metres. The squirrels were attracted to the abundant acorns of a localised stand of oak trees (Quercus gemelliflora), which can be seen in Figure 3. 

The specimens in Figures 1 and 3 are strongly flecked with white, but the specimen in Figure 2 bears very few white flecks.


References : M10