Whiskered Flying Squirrel at Mount Kinabalu (Sabah, Borneo)

Whiskered Flying Squirrel (Petinomys genibarbis) at Kinabalu Park
Paul Carter, 20 Aug 2016
(Revised 8 Nov 2016 to include reference to a 1965 paper with images)

On 26 May 2016 I was spotlighting alone along Power Station Road in Kinabalu Park (Borneo) and at 8.20 pm I photographed a Whiskered Flying Squirrel (Petinomys genibarbis) very close to the 4 Km post about 500 m before Tympohon Gate. I estimate from Google Earth that it was at an elevation of approximately 1840 m.

Very little is known about the behavior and distribution of Petinomys genibarbis (Erik Meijaard, pers comm) and this appears to be a notable elevation record. A search online did not produce any confirmed images and it seems to be rarely recorded or photographed. Subsequent to my initial posting of this record I was informed by Paula Bohaska (assistant to Richard Thorington, Smithsonian Institution) of a paper by Lim Boo Liat entitled “The Malayan Whiskered Flying Squirrel” and published in 1965 in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 144 (4): 565-567. The paper includes black-and-white images were of an animal that had been caught in daurian trees at an elevation of around 450 m at Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve, Selangor on mainland Malaysia and and subsequently photographed inside a house.

Whiskered Flying Squirrel
Whiskered Flying Squirrel

Description: The characteristic tuft of very long dark whiskers centered on a wart behind the eye is clearly evident. No other flying squirrel has such a tuft of whiskers behind the eye (Francis, 2008). The reddish upperparts appear to have dark underfur. The forehead is brownish; with dark grey around the eyes (apart from the rear of the eye). The cheek and temple are orange. It is orange-tinged white or cream below. The upperside of the patagium is black as illustrated in Francis (2008), compared to Phillipps and Phillipps (2016) in which it is illustrated as reddish. The patagium has a white margin and is white on the underside. My images do not show the lower back which is reported in the field-guides as being golden-pinkish or pinkish-brown.

Kinabalu Park in northern Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) is centered on Mount Kinabalu at 4095 m. The Power Station Road is the 4.5. km long sealed access road from the park’s headquarters (at 1570 m elevation) through montane forest up to Tympohon Gate at 1860 m.

– Abdullah M. 2012. Red List of Mammals of Peninsular Malaysia. DWNP. 2012 p124. Viewed online 14 Aug 2016 at: https://www.academia.edu/2464182/Red_List_of_Mammals_of_Peninsular_Malaysia._DWNP._2012.
– Francis C.M. 2008. A field guide to the mammals of Thailand and South-east Asia, p154 and p163. Asia Books.
– IUCN Redlist. 2016. Viewed online 14 Aug 2016 at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/16735/0
– Phillipps Q. & Phillipps K. 2016. Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan, p 282. John Beaufoy Publishing.

Author: Paul Carter

Wildlife traveler interested in mammals and photography.

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