Philippine Flying Lemur
Flying lemur, Gliding lemur, Philippine colugo, Kagwang
The Philippine flying lemur is a strange-looking animal and is neither a true lemur nor a true flier. Rather, it is a gliding mammal that has a patagium or gliding membrane stretching from the side of its neck to the ends of its fingers and toes, and to the tip of its tail. This membrane is more extensive than that of any other gliding mammal. The Philippine flying lemur is totally arboreal and almost its entire life is spent in the canopy, gliding gracefully from one tree to the next, travelling as far as 100 m or more. The lifespan of these animals is not known, but the oldest known flying lemur of a related species in captivity was 17.5 years old.
The Philippine flying lemur inhabits the islands of Mindanao, Basilan, Leyte, Samar, Bohol and others in the southern Philippines. It lives in primary forest, secondary forest, rubber plantations and coconut groves in lowland and mountainous areas.
Habits and lifestyle
This species is arboreal and largely nocturnal. It lives in forests, spending the daylight hours in tree holes or hollows about 25-50 m from the ground, though in coconut plantations they will curl up into a ball or hang off a palm frond, all four of their feet close together. They will climb up the trees at dusk to glide off in search of food, usually travelling about 1-1.5 km. They usually go to the same places on the same trees every night. Not much is known about their social life. Several animals may share the same resting place, but they probably travel on their own at night. One study found that home ranges were 6.4-13.4 ha, and they overlapped extensively. Friendly interactions such as allogrooming have been seen between adults of different genders and between young and adults, though adult males sometimes are hostile towards one another.
Diet and nutrition
Philippine flying lemur is a folivore that mainly eats flowers, buds, young leaves, shoots, fruit, nectar and sap.
There is little data about the reproductive behavior of this species. Mating usually takes place from January to March. After a gestation period of 60 days usually a single young is born – rarely two. When born they are undeveloped, like a marsupial. Mothers may either carry their young with them when foraging or leave them in the nest. The patagium may be folded near the mother’s tail into a warm, soft ‘hammock’ to carry the young. Females normally go from tree to tree via branches instead of gliding when they are carrying their young. Lactating females with young that have not been young are sometimes pregnant, so births may follow soon after each other. Infants are weaned at about 6 months old. Sexual maturity and adult size are reached between the age of two and three years.
The Philippine flying lemur is under threat due to the loss of forest habitat, logging and the development of land for agriculture. The remaining members of this species now inhabit isolated fragments of forest. They are also hunted both for their soft fur and for their meat, considered a local delicacy.
This species is widespread and common. According to the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) resource, the total population size of the Philippine flying lemur is around 100, 000 individuals. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) and its numbers today remain stable.
Not much information is available about the Philippine flying lemur's role in their ecosystem services.
Fun facts for kids
- Gliding is by far the most efficient method of travel for these animals; on the ground they are virtually helpless, not being able to stand erect, while in the trees their climbing movements are skillful but very slow, and they move by a succession of lingering hops.
- Amongst the branches these animals move and feed while upside-down.
- The Philippine flying lemur is a very able pilot when gliding, and can maneuver skillfully in very thick foliage.
- Flying lemurs are also called colugos.
- “Flying lemur” as a name is misleading, as they cannot fly as such and they are not lemurs.
- In general, these creatures prefer to forage on larger trees as they produce more young leaves as well as other food sources. They use their large tongues and specialized lower teeth to pick leaves the way cows do.
Philippine Flying Lemur Wikipedia articlehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_flying_lemur
Philippine Flying Lemur on The IUCN Red List sitehttp://www.iucnredlist.org/details/6081/0