Petinomys vordermanniVordermann's flying squirrel

Geographic Range

Vordermann's flying squirrels (Petinomys vordermanni) are found scattered in central Malaysia, the coast of an island in Northwestern Indonesia, as well as a region in the center of that island. They are also found on the Belitung and Riau Islands in eastern Sumatra and southern China. They are also found near Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean waters. It is unsure where exactly their historically native range is. Specific locations of Vordermann's flying squirrels are currently unknown. ("Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

Habitat

Vordermann's flying squirrels occupy terrestrial habitats and are found mostly in forests. They prefer tropical, moist, lowland areas and are found in neighboring swamps, in second-growth forests, and primary forests. They are found in dry forests, but the majority of their population occupies wet areas such as rain forests, swamps, and marshes.

Vordermann's flying squirrels have been seen 0.3 to 6 m above ground in nest holes and tend to forage in trees. Although the exact elevations at which Vordermann's flying squirrels live is unknown, though the locations at which they have been found range between sea level and 1,165 m above sea level. Vordermann's flying squirrels do not burrow underground, for they spend most of their lives in trees above the ground. Their tree nests are an average of 6 m off the ground, but that number can be much higher or lower depending on the location. (Fokidis and Risch, 2008; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1,165 m
    0.00 to ft
  • Average elevation
    395 m
    1295.93 ft
  • Range depth
    0 to 0 m
    0.00 to 0.00 ft

Physical Description

Vordermann's flying squirrels are pigmy flying squirrels. The tails of Vordermann's flying squirrels are flattened on the bottom and bushy on top, which helps them control their pitch during flight. With orange cheeks and black fur around their eyes, they have a unique appearance. They have tufts of whiskers beneath both ears and have a posteriorly positioned coronoid process. There is light expansion of the caudal skin between the hind limbs and the tail in Vordermann's flying squirrels. They have adapted over time mainly for arboreal and gliding locomotion.

Records of bone structure of Vordermann's flying squirrels show pitted enamel and either no or few thin, short, spur-like ridges that are developed from their lophs. (Hayssen, 2008; Thorington and Hoffman, 2005; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range mass
    18 to 38 g
    0.63 to 1.34 oz
  • Average mass
    36.87 g
    1.30 oz
  • Average length
    166.99 mm
    6.57 in

Reproduction

Vordermann's flying squirrels are monogamous, meaning one female mates with one male. Vordermann's flying squirrels have an average of 2 pups per litter, and are cooperative breeders. Cooperative breeding allows children to not only be cared for by their parents, but also others in their group. It is unknown what exact role parents play in the lives of their offspring. However, in similar species, mothers provide food and milk for a few weeks until their offspring are capable of foraging on their own. (Harman, 2019)

Vordermann's flying squirrels reproduce in trees. Females have longer tails which allows for better maneuverability when carrying their young, either in utero or during lactation. The gestation period and time to weaning are still unknown for this species. Vorderman's flying squirrels are seasonal breeders, breeding once a year in the springtime. They have not been shown to breed in other seasons throughout the year.

Mating occurs usually around the months of February and March, but can also extend into April. One reproductive feature of Vordermann's flying squirrels is internal fertilization. This allows for mothers to keep their children safe inside of her until they are ready to be delivered. This behavior also ensures that there is one specific father per litter.

Vordermann's flying squirrels produce an average of 2 offspring, considering they both survive birth. The birth weights of newborn Vordermann's flying squirrels averages around 18 g. Although the time to weaning is unknown for this species, it is thought that offspring are independent after around 5 weeks of being with their parents. After this, offspring hunt for their own food. For both females and males, the average age before they are ready to reproduce is only 2.5 months. (Fokidis and Risch, 2008)

  • Breeding interval
    Vordermann's flying squirrels breed once a year in the spring time.
  • Breeding season
    February to March
  • Average number of offspring
    2
  • Average time to independence
    5 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2.5 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2.5 months

Young stay with their mothers for about 5 weeks, when they are able to leave the nest. After this is an extended period of juvenile learning. Both mothers and fathers protect their young, but mothers are the ones feeding their pups milk. Little else is known about the paternal investments of males and the length of time juveniles spend with their mothers. (Harman, 2019)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • extended period of juvenile learning
  • maternal position in the dominance hierarchy affects status of young

Lifespan/Longevity

The mortality rate of Vordermann's flying squirrels is much lower in the wild due to predation. The longest known lifespan in the wild is 6 years old, but in captivity the longest known lifespan has been recorded at 15 years old. Although a lifespan of 6 years in the wild has been recorded, it is thought that the average lifespan for Vordermann's flying squirrels is 3.3 years in the wild. (Fokidis and Risch, 2008; Meijaard, 2003; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    6 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    3.3 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 (high) years

Behavior

Vordermann's flying squirrels are nocturnal and crepuscular, meaning they are active at night, dusk, and dawn. This helps Vordermann's flying squirrels to stay alive during the night, when their predators are hunting. They are arboreal and scansorial which means they live in trees and are specialized to climb them. Vordermann's flying squirrels are also saltatorial, which allows them to jump and hop around quickly. Their daily torpor and sedentary behaviors suggest that they tend to stay within a small radius and spend some of each day dormant. Vordermann's Flying Squirrel are very social animals and hang out in groups or near one another.

Flights of Vordermann's flying squirrels have been recorded to be 90 m long. They glide though the air without flapping, so the taller the trees from which they glide, the longer the distances they can glide. (Fokidis and Risch, 2008; Hayssen, 2008; Hill, 1962; Nakagawa, et al., 2007; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

Home Range

There is no known information about a home range or territory size for Vordermann's flying squirrels.

Communication and Perception

It is known that Vordermann's flying squirrels emit different sounds, but it is unsure what exactly they mean. It is also known that Vordermann's Flying Squirrel use visual, tactile, acoustic, and chemical perceptions to perceive their environment. (Nakagawa, et al., 2007; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

Food Habits

Vordermann's flying squirrels are omnivores, favoring plants more than other animals. Vordermann's flying squirrels store food so they do not have to forage during the season in which they are feeding their young.

The diet of Vordermann's flying squirrels includes insects, fruit, flowers/nectar/pollen, leaves/branches/bark, seeds, nuts, grass, fungi and roots/tubers. (Harman, 2019; Nakagawa, et al., 2007; "Vordermann's Flying Squirrel", 2017)

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

Predation

Predation of Vordermann's flying squirrels is unknown at this time, but there is some information about relative species. Arboreal squirrels take advantage of their climbing and leaping skills and less often use their running abilities on the ground to escape predators. Compared to other squirrels, flying squirrels have low body masses and long tails relative to their body length. This helps improve the aerodynamics of their flight. Some common predators of flying squirrels are hawks, owls, raccoons, snakes, and cats. It is unknown how they react to facing a predator.

  • Known Predators
    • Hawks
    • Owls
    • Raccoons
    • Snakes
    • Fox
    • Coyote
    • Cats

Ecosystem Roles

Vordermann's flying squirrels benefit from eating plants and fungi by gaining energy, and plants and fungi benefit in return by having squirrels spread their spores and seeds, allowing for them to reproduce. (Harman, 2019; KIRK, et al., 2014)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • creates habitat
Mutualist Species
  • Fungi and plants

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Vordermann's flying squirrels provide research and educational information to researchers. Not much is known about this species, so there is a lot of room for research. One way people benefit from their existence is the control of pest and fungal populations, since Vordermann's flying squirrels consume these organisms.

  • Positive Impacts
  • research and education
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative economic impacts due to Vordermann's flying squirrels.

Conservation Status

Vordermann's flying squirrels are listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable. On the US Federal List, CITES and the State of Michigan list, they have no special status.

Contributors

Alison O'Dell (author), Colorado State University, Brooke Berger (editor), Colorado State University, Galen Burrell (editor).

Glossary

Pacific Ocean

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

arboreal

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.

causes or carries domestic animal disease

either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

coastal

the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.

cooperative breeder

helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

endothermic

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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

rainforest

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.

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

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