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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Whiskered Flying Squirrel

Family : Sciuridae
Species : Petinomys genibarbis

Head-Body Length : Up to 18 cm
Tail Length : Up to 19 cm
Weight : up to 108 grams

Petinomys genibarbis, or Whiskered Flying Squirrel, is a rarely seen inhabitant of lowland and hill primary forest and mature secondary forest. In western Peninsular Malaysia the species is sometimes found in orchards (and has been documented eating rambutans in captivity), and in northern Borneo it is also known from peat swamp forest.

In 2016 photographs of this squirrel were taken by Mr. Paul Carter on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo at an elevation of 1840 metres (Figs 1 and 2): these are probably the first images of this species in the wild. The squirrel was active on the branch of a tree, 5 metres above the forest floor.

The main distinguishing feature of this squirrel is the presence of a tuft of long, dark hairs arising from a small, sparsely furred patch of skin immediately behind the eye.

Its body fur is mainly reddish-brown, and somewhat 'golden-pinkish' towards the lower back and rump. It has greyish underfur, and its throat and belly fur is pale or dull orange-buff. The patagium, or gliding membrane, is white-edged. Its tail is reddish-brown.

This species occurs in western parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, eastern Java and northern Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, northeast Kalimantan).

There appear to be no recent studies of this squirrel. Two subspecies are mentioned in available literature: Petinomys genibarbis malaccanus in Peninsular Malaysia (Lim, 1965), and Petinomys genibarbis borneoensis in Borneo (Phillipps & Phillipps, 2016). However, Thorington et al (2012) do not mention these.

Figs 1 and 2 : Example from Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo at an elevation of 1840 metres. Note the presence of long, dark hairs emerging from a bald patch of skin behind the eye: this is the key identifying feature for the species.

All photos thanks to Paul Carter.

References : M1, M10, M12

Lim, B. L.  (1965). The Malayan Whiskered Flying Squirrel Petinomys genibarbis malaccanus. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Vol. 144, No. 4, pp. 565-567). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Fig 1
ゥ  Paul Carter
Fig 2
ゥ  Paul Carter