Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus volans, C. variegatus)

Class: Mammalia
Order: Dermoptera
Family:    Cynocephalidae
Size:    Length: 13 to 17 inches (33 to 43 cm)
Weight: 2 to 4 pounds (0.9 to 1.8 kg) 
Diet: Leaves, buds, fruit and flowers
Distribution: Southeast Asia, Malaya and the Philippines
Young:  1 young, once per year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: Vulnerable 
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: 17.5 years in captivity



·       The flying lemur is also known as a colugo, cobego or kagwag.

·       The longest glide for a flying lemur was recorded at 450 feet (137 m).

·       Almost 90 percent of the Philippine eagle’s diet consists of flying lemurs.

·       Although their teeth resemble those of carnivores, flying lemurs’ diets consist of fruit and leaves.

·       Their long, soft and luxurious fur may help them to glide, as it appears to diminish turbulence.

·       Flying lemurs are most closely related to either primates or bats; scientists do not agree upon to which group they are most closely related. 



Flying lemurs do not fly and are not lemurs, but received their name because of their nocturnal habits and the shape of their fox-like head, both of which are reminiscent of lemurs. Like flying squirrels, lemurs actually glide rather than fly. They have flaps of skin that surround almost the entire body and extend from the neck to the forepaws to the hind feet and to the tail. A skin flap is called a patagium. When flying lemurs want to glide from one tree to another, they hold their arms and legs out, creating a parachute or wing-glider type of effect, soaring well over 328 feet (100 m) in one effortless motion. Their fur, which is brown or grey with white splotches, provides flying lemurs with an excellent camouflage against tree bark, and their strong nails help them to grip branches of trees. Malayan flying lemurs (C. variegates) are larger and lighter coloured than Philippine flying lemurs (C. volans), and have more white spots on their back. 



Philippine flying lemurs are found only on islands belonging to the Philippines, while Malayan flying lemurs are found in the rainforests of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra and Borneo. 


Feeding Habits

Flying lemurs base their entire diet on leaves, buds, fruit and flowers, but only from certain species of plants. They eat by grabbing a branch, pulling it towards their mouth and biting off a piece of leaf, while water is obtained by licking drops from wet leaves. 



Because flying lemurs are not often successfully kept in captivity, knowledge about their reproduction is limited. The female usually has one baby after a two-month pregnancy. The newborn is extremely helpless and attaches itself to its mother’s belly, where it is carried in a pouch the mother fashions from her skin flaps.  



They spend their entire lives up in trees, sleeping in tree hollows or hanging upside down from branches during the heat of the day. Flying lemurs are solitary animals and although up to 12 may be found per hectare, if two males find themselves in the same tree, they become aggressive toward each other until one leaves. Flying lemurs never purposely descend to the ground, where they move slowly and awkwardly due to the large flaps of skin that hang from their body, rendering them nearly helpless when they attempt to walk upright.



Flying lemurs are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN. 



Flying Lemur Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Vaughan, T., Ryan, J. and Czaplewski, N. (2000). Mammalogy, Fourth Edition. Orlando: Saunders College Press