Hylopetes phayreiIndochinese flying squirrel

Geographic Range

The Indochinese flying squirrel (Hylopetes phayrei) is distributed throughout Southeast Asia from Southern Thailand to central Burma. There are also small populations in Southeast China including the island of Hainan. (Corbet and Hill 1992;Tizard 2016) (Corbet and Hill, 1992; Tizard, 2016)


The Indochinese flying squirrel is an arboreal species. It lives in tropical, subtropical, and evergreen forests between 150m to around 3,500m in elevation. (Nowak 1991;Li and Yu 2013;Smith and Xie 2013;Tizard 2016) (Li and Yu, 2013; Nowak, 1991; Smith and Xie, 2013; Tizard, 2016)

  • Range elevation
    150 to 3500 m
    492.13 to 11482.94 ft

Physical Description

Indochinese flying squirrels have a white stomach and throat with grey to dark brown or russet head and dorsal fur. The fur can have lighter tips that appear white or brown. The feet are grayish brown. The tail is flattened, but fully furred with a darker fur at the base and sides and lighter on the top. There is also a white mark behind the ears. Indochinese flying squirrels are the smallest flying squirrels found in China. (Lekagul and McNeely 1977;Smith and Xie 2013;Tien and Sung 2013;Tizard 2016;Wilson et al., 2017) (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977; Smith and Xie, 2013; Tien and Sung, 1990; Tizard, 2016; Wilson, et al., 2017)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    113 to 180 g
    3.98 to 6.34 oz
  • Range length
    174 to 197 mm
    6.85 to 7.76 in


There is nothing known about mating systems of Hylopetes phayrei.

The breeding season of Indochinese flying squirrels runs from April through mid June, and two or three young are born per litter (Smith et al. 2013). In similar species such as Hylopetes platyurus reproduction is correlated to fruit production in rainforest trees. If there is more fruit around their habitat, then reproduction of Hylopetes shall occur. Hylopetes phayrei generally nests in tree cavities (Wilson 2017). (Smith and Xie, 2013; Wilson, et al., 2017)

  • Breeding season
    April through mid June
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 3

There is nothing known about parental care in Hylopetes phayrei.


There is nothing known about the lifespan of Hylopetes phayrei.


Not much is known about the behavior of the Indochinese flying squirrel. However, its range overlaps with several other Hylopetes species. Hylopetes species are arboreal and nocturnal. During the day, they rest in hollow trees and come out at night to search for food. As the name suggests, the Indochinese flying squirrel has a membrane that stretches between its front and hind legs that it can use to glide between trees (Nowak 1991). (Nowak, 1991)

Communication and Perception

Nothing is known about Indochinese flying squirrel communication, but a related species, Hylopetes alboniger calls in a high-pitched trill. It is unclear what the purpose of this call is (Nowak 1991). (Nowak, 1991)

Food Habits

The Indochinese flying squirrel has been documented consuming cultivated fruit during the night. Other Hylopetes species have been reported feeding on nuts, fruits, shoots, leaves, and occasionally insects and small vertebrates. While feeding, Hylopetes species rest on their hind legs and use their forelimbs to hold food. (Wilson et al., 2017; Nowak 1991; Smith and Xie 2013) (Nowak, 1991; Smith and Xie, 2013; Wilson, et al., 2017)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • Other Foods
  • fungus


No predation information was found for Hylopetes phayrei, but ultimately humans are predators to the related species, Hylopetes lepidus. Humans affect Hylopetes phayrei through destruction of habitats for agriculture and land expansion. Tribal communities hunt Hylopetes phayrei; this is encouraged as Hylopetes phayrei are considered pests to agriculture. Some tribal communities hunt the species for use as a blessing of good will sacrifice for marriage ceremonies (Murali 2013). (Murali, et al., 2013)

Ecosystem Roles

There is no information available about the roles Indochinese flying squirrels play in ecosystems.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive economic effects of Hylopetes phayrei on humans. However, as a whole, flying squirrels are known to aid in forest regeneration which is economically valuable to humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no information that Hylopetes phayrei has a negative economic impact on humans. Other Hylopetes species eat nuts and fruits from food plantations in human agriculture, which is why this species is considered a pest to farmers(Nowak 1991). For example, Hylopetes spadiceus is said to have a negative impact on human agriculture by stealing fruit from nearby crops and is considered a pest for humans (Murali 2013). (Murali, et al., 2013; Nowak, 1991)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

There is no data on the population status of the Indochinese flying squirrel, but due to inhabiting a large range the species has been given the conservation status of “least concern". (Tizard 2016) (Tizard, 2016)


Amanda Burrell (author), Portland State University, Olivia Helback (author), Portland State University, Nathan Nguyen (author), Portland State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


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.


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.

native range

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.

World Map


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.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


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.


Corbet, G., J. Hill. 1992. The Mammals of the Indomalayan Region. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.

Li, S., F. Yu. 2013. Differentiation in cranial variables among six species of Hylopetes (Sciurinae: Pteromyini). Zoological Research, 34(E5): 120-127.

Murali, K., C. Parimal, S. Kuladip, K. Awadhesh. 2013. Observations on Particolored Flying Squirrel Hylopetes alboniger in Northeast India. ZOO's PRINT, XXVIII Issue 8: 18-22.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Smith, A., Y. Xie. 2013. Mammals of China. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Accessed October 12, 2020 at https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/lib/psu/detail.action?docID=1135353&pq-origsite=primo.

Tien, D., C. Sung. 1990. Six new Vietnamese rodents. Mammalia, 54(2): 233–238.

Tizard, R. 2016. "Hylopetes phayrei" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed October 07, 2020 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/10605/22244042.

Wilson, D., T. Lacher, R. Mittermeier, K. Aplin. 2017. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.