Physical characteristics

Flying squirrels are small to medium rodents highly adapted for an arboreal lifestyle. They are generally slim and leggy animals with large bushy tails, which often makes them appear larger than they actually are. All species are adapted for gliding with membranes of muscle running along the sides of the body between the front and hind legs, in some genera, such as the giant flying squirrels (Petaurista), these extend up the neck and right down to the base of the tail. A rod of cartilage connected to the wrist is used to extend the gliding membrane. In most species the tail is flattened dorso-ventrally to assist in gliding and directional control.

They have large eyes and generally small but obvious ears. The fur is very soft and dense in all species. They are paler below with generally brown, gray, or blackish upper parts, although the giant flying squirrels are highly variable with some populations being brightly colored—vivid orange above and yellow below.

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