5 Species Of Flying Squirrels Found In Uttarakhand – Free PDF Download


  • A study conducted by the Research Wing of Uttarakhand Forest Department has recorded the existence of five different species of flying squirrel in the state of Uttarakhand.

What are flying squirrels?

  • Flying squirrels are known for soaring anywhere from 150 to 500 feet, sailing from tree to tree to avoid ground predators—but they actually glide rather than fly.

  • Flying squirrels, unlike birds and bats, do not have their own means of propulsion, instead of gliding on a fuzzy membrane called the patagium that connects their wrists to their ankles.
  • This flap of loose skin makes a square and behaves like a hang glider when they leap from a tree and stretch their limbs.
  • Flying squirrels turn by lowering one arm, and a specific piece of cartilage that is not present in other gliding mammals extends from the wrist to support the pagatium and aid steering.
  • To avoid aerial predators like owls, these creatures can make 180-degree flips in mid-air.
  • Flying squirrels can guide their motions by moving their hands and feet in opposing directions, which helps them land securely on their strong, silent cushioned feet.
  • Their large, fluffy tails let them stabilise their flight and put on the brakes by flipping them up.

  • As per a study undertaken by the Uttarakhand Forest Department’s Research Wing, the state of Uttarakhand is home to five different species of flying squirrels out of 13 found in India.

About the Study

  • Between October 2020 and July 2021, the study was conducted across the state.
  • This is the first research of its kind done by any of the country’s forest departments.
  • The study aims to understand theirs’ habitat, distribution, threats and also chalking out the conservation strategy.
  • Six different sites— Ranikhet, Devprayag, Ranichauri, Deoban, Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, and Bhaironghati— were selected and data were recorded on various parameters like forest composition, physical appearances, nesting behaviour, gliding distance, activities/behavioural patterns, etc.

Species are:

    1. Kashmir flying squirrel (seen in Ranikhet 25 years ago)
    2. Woolly flying squirrel (saw in Pakistan 20 years ago)
    3. Indian giant flying squirrel
    4. Red giant flying squirrel, and
    5. White-bellied Flying squirrel

Kashmir flying squirrel

  • The Kashmir flying squirrel (Eoglaucomys fimbriatus) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae.
  • It is monotypic within the genus Eoglaucomys. It is found in India and Pakistan.
  • Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.
  • The Afghan flying squirrel is usually considered a subspecies.

Woolly flying squirrel

  • The western woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus) is a species of very large flying squirrel in the genus Eupetaurus.
  • It is native to northern Pakistan and northwestern India.
  • It was long considered the only species in the genus until the description of two other species in 2021.

  • The two new species discovered are named the Tibetan woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus tibetensis) and the Yunnan woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus nivamons).
  • The research mentions that Tibetan woolly flying squirrel lives in the Himalayan region that intersects India, Bhutan, and Tibet, whereas the Yunnan woolly flying squirrel is a native of the Yunnan Province of southwestern China.

Indian giant flying squirrel

  • The Indian giant flying squirrel (Petaurista philippensis), also called the large brown flying squirrel or the common giant flying squirrel, is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae.
  • It is capable of gliding flight using a skin membrane stretched between front and hind legs. It is found in mainland Southeast and South Asia, and southern and central China.

Red giant flying squirrel

  • The red giant flying squirrel or common giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae (squirrels).
  • It is found in a wide variety of forest–types, plantations and more open habitats with scattered trees in Southeast Asia, ranging north to the Himalayas and southern and central China.
  • The red giant flying squirrel is among the largest flying squirrels and longest squirrels.
  • It has a head–and–body length of 28.5–55 cm (11 in–1 ft 9.5 in), tail length of 34–63 cm (1 ft 1.5 in–2 ft 1 in) and weighs about 990–3,200 g (2.2–7.1 lb).
  • Within each region, males are generally somewhat smaller, at least in weight, than females.

White-bellied Flying squirrel

  • The white-bellied giant flying squirrel is medium-large in size, with measurements in the mid to upper range of those reported for the red giant flying squirrel.
  • Since the 1950s, most authorities placed albiventer as a subspecies of the red giant flying squirrel.

Importance of flying squirrels

  • Flying squirrels are very important to the forest ecosystem. They play a significant role in the expansion of forests by facilitating seed dispersal and pollination.
  • Over the time, the squirrels have adapted to the altitude. The presence of dense forests at low altitudes may have drawn it down.

Consider the following :  ​

1.​Black-necked crane


​3.​Flying squirrel

​4.​Snow leopard

​Which of the above are naturally found in India?

​(a)​ 1, 2 and 3 only

​(b)​ 1, 3 and 4 only

​(c)​ 2 and 4 only

​(d)​ 1, 2, 3 and 4




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