Black flying squirrels are found in Southeast Asia, specifically on the Malayan Peninsula and the islands of Penang, Sumatra, and Borneo (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013.2). There have also been reports in Thailand, but those sightings have not been confirmed. Because populations of black flying squirrels in that area are poorly studied, it's possible that observations were misidentified Petaurista species (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013). (Aplin, et al., 2013)
Black flying squirrels inhabit both primary and secondary forests in the lowlands and foothills of mountains in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo (Jackson, 2012). They are uncommon in deep forests (Muul & Liat, 1971) and prefer mature forests or clearings with few large trees, but don't tend to stay in plantations of fruit and rubber (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). Large trees provide potential nesting cavities for this nocturnal species. Because they have been found near human villages in Malaysia (Humphrey & Bain, 1990), they are thought to be relatively adaptable (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013). (Aplin, et al., 2013; Humphrey and Bain, 1990; Jackson, 2012; Muul and Liat, 1971)
Black flying squirrels are relatively large compared to other squirrels. They have a total body length between 255 and 426 mm, a tail length between 280 and 527 mm, and weigh between 1,128 and 1,250 grams (Nowak, 1999). The gliding surface area, excluding the head and tail, is about 1,600 square centimeters (Thorington & Heaney, 1981). Females tend to be slightly larger than their male counterparts, but not significantly (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). The two subspecies of vary only in their fur color, with A.t. tephromelas being mainly black and A. t. phaeomelas being primarily orange-red (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). In the darker subspecies, A.t. tephromelas, the fur on the dorsal side, as well as the head and cheeks, tends to be dark gray to almost black with some slight, pale flecking on the back (Jackson, 2012). Comparatively, the ventral surface is generally paler in both subspecies. (Jackson, 2012; Nowak, 1999; Thorington and Heaney, 1981; Thorington, et al., 2012)
Little is known about black flying squirrels mating systems. While there is a great deal of information on reproduction in Sciuridae, many nocturnal flying squirrels and tropical species remain relatively unstudied. (Thorington, et al., 2012)
Female black flying squirrels always produce a litter of just one young (Jackson, 2012). In general, flying squirrels tend to have smaller litter sizes of one to four young (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). They breed infrequently, leading to a slow population turnover (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). (Humphrey and Bain, 1990; Jackson, 2012; Thorington, et al., 2012)
Approximately three to four months after birth, the young are fully developed. Black flying squirrel young are able to leave the care of their parents before the age of one, which can be an indicator of a typically asocial species (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). (Thorington, et al., 2012)
Although little is known about black flying squirrels, the typical longevity of most squirrels is 5 to 10 years. Many squirrels can survive up to 20 years in captivity (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). Black flying squirrels tend to have a slower population turnover than other squirrels because they have small litter sizes and breed infrequently (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). (Humphrey and Bain, 1990; Thorington, et al., 2012)
Little is known about the behavior of this canopy-dwelling species, except that most of its activity takes place well after sunset (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). Black flying squirrels move about the treetops foraging for food (Nowak, 1999). Because they are nocturnal, they spend the daylight hours in nesting locations in tree cavities (Jackson, 2012). (Humphrey and Bain, 1990; Jackson, 2012; Nowak, 1999)
There is no information in the literature on home range size in black flying squirrels.
No reports of communication in black flying squirrels have been published. (Thorington, et al., 2012)
Fruits, nuts, and other plant foods make up most of the diet of this poorly studied species of flying squirrel (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013.2). Black flying squirrels also feed on leaves, shoots, and possibly some insects (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). Like other squirrels, they may cache their food. Most squirrels are opportunistic in the food that they consume, but within species, diets may become more specialized (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). (Aplin, et al., 2013; Humphrey and Bain, 1990; Thorington, et al., 2012)
Like other flying squirrels, black flying squirrels nest in tree cavities during the daylight hours, which are usually sufficiently camouflaged from potential predators. There has been little, if any research done no the effects of predation on (Thorington, et al., 2012).
Although no ecosystem roles have been reported for black flying squirrels, they may disperse seeds, pollinate flowers, or spread fungal spores (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, & Whatton, 2012). (Thorington, et al., 2012)
Because so little is known about black flying squirrels, no conclusive economic benefits are listed for this species (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013). (Aplin, et al., 2013; Thorington, et al., 2012)
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, black flying squirrels are categorized as "data deficient" (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013). Because they are rare, and have been since their initial discovery, some have categorized this species as threatened (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). Little is known about this species of squirrel. Black flying squirrels are not currently facing any known threats, but loss of habitat may become one in the future (Aplin, Lunde, Duckworth, Lee, & Tizard, 2013.2). Lowland forests, the preferred habitat type of this rare squirrel, tend to be the first forests to be harvested. There may also be a trade in taxidermic mounts of Aeromys (Humphrey & Bain, 1990). (Aplin, et al., 2013; Humphrey and Bain, 1990)
While there is little information about this species of flying squirrel, conservation efforts have been proposed in case the species is threatened and needs to be protected. One proposed effort is the conservation of Thailand’s southern-most lowland forests. Protection of this area would affect many species in addition to(Humphrey & Bain, 1990).
Ana Breit (author), University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
uses sound to communicate
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Aplin, K., D. Lunde, B. Lee, R. Tizard. 2013. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed April 20, 2014 at http://www.iucnredlist.org.
Humphrey, S., J. Bain. 1990. Endangered Animals of Thailand. Gainesville, Florida: Sandhill Crane Press.
Jackson, S. 2012. Gliding Mammals of the World. Collingwood, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.
Muul, I., L. Liat. 1971. New Locality Records for Some Mammals of West Malaysia. American Society of Mammalogists, 52: 430-437.
Nowak, R. 1999. Endangered Animals of Thailand. Gainesville, Florida: Sandhill Crane Press Inc..
Thorington, R., L. Heaney. 1981. Body Proportions and Gliding Adaptations of Flying Squirrels. American Society of Mammalogists, 62: 101-114.
Thorington, R., J. Koprowski, M. Steele, J. Whatton. 2012. Squirrels of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.