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.

Marbled Cat at Mount Kinabalu (Sabah, Borneo) – a high elevation record

High elevation record of Marbled Cat in Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Borneo)
Paul Carter, 20 Aug 2016
Revised Feb 2017 with a link to Andrew Boyce’s camera-trap record.
A version of this post was published (April 2017) in CAT News Nr 65 Winter 2017.

On 26 May 2016 I was spotlighting alone along Power Station Road in Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Borneo) and at 7.30 pm I had brief views of a marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) near the lower entrance of the Bukit Ular trail. The sighting was at 1780 m elevation (data from Google Earth) and extends the previously known range of elevation in Borneo. The previous highest elevation records of marbled cat in Borneo are camera trap records at approximately 1550 m in Kinabalu Park (A Boyce, pers comm) and 1342 m in the Crocker Range National Park (Hearn, pers comm).  It has, however, been recorded up to an elevation of 3000 m elsewhere in Asia; for example Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in Laos where it was recorded from 1042 m to 1913 m (CatSG website, 2016). There are few recent records of other felids in this area of Kinabalu Park: a bay cat Catopuma badia was recorded in 1970 at 1650 m (Phillipps and Phillipps, 2016).

Kinabalu Park in northern Sabah is centered on Mount Kinabalu at 4095 m; the Power Station Road is a 4.5 km long sealed access road from the park’s headquarters (at 1570 m elevation) up through montane forest to Tympohon Gate at 1860 m. I had brief binocular views then took one out-of-focus image of the head-on view and one image of the nape and upper shoulders as it turned and left. I did not get views of the tail.



ID Notes: The cat was sitting amongst some logs and shrubbery on a bank at the road edge. The upper chest and upper front legs were well spotted, with small spots. The area of the upper sides and shoulder shows an overall buffish grey base colouring; a narrow, vertical dark line with pale edge on grey can also be seen. The images were shown to three biologists (Andrew Hearn, John Mathai and Rustam) who work on Bornean felids/carnivores, and all provided independent confirmation that it was a marbled cat (and my thanks to them for their reviews). At their suggestion I have submitted a record for publication in Cat News (http://www.catsg.org/); this post is a summary of that submission.

Feb 2017 update: Andrew Boyce’s camera-trap record at 1,550 m elevation can be viewed here: http://andyjboyce.weebly.com/birding-and-natural-history.html

– CatSG. 2016. Marbled cat. http://www.catsg.org/m/index.php?id=122.
– Hearn AJ, Ross J, Bernard H, Bakar SA, Hunter LTB, Macdonald DW (2016) The First Estimates of Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata Population Density from Bornean Primary and Selectively Logged Forest. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151046. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151046.
– 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.
– Rustam, Hearn A.J., Ross J., Alfred R., Samejima H., Heydon M., Cheyne S.M., Brodie J., Giordano A.J., Bernard H., Boonratana R., Loken B., Mohamed A., Augeri D.M., Eaton J., Hon J., Lim B.L., Marshall A.J., Mathai J., Semiadi G., Macdonald D.W., Breitenmoser-Würsten C., Kramer-Schadt S. & Wilting A. (2016) Predicted distribution of the Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) on Borneo. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 33 pp 157–164.

Sabah (Borneo) mammal trip – March 2014

On a 23-day trip around Sabah (Borneo), with Jo Dale in March-April 2014, we saw 56 mammals (including 8 primates, 15 squirrels and 10 bats).

Least Pygmy Squirrel
Least Pygmy Squirrel

Jo joined me on Day 5 after I had visited Crocker Range and Poring Hot Springs. Other key sites included Kinabalu NP, Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. My trip report (pdf with photos) is here.


Taman Negara (Malaysia) mammal trip – June 2012

On a  5 day visit with Dave Sargeant to Taman Negara NP (Peninsular Malaysia), in mid-June 2012, we saw 23 mammal species, 125 birds and 3 snakes. We spent 4 nights in the Kuala Tahan area and then 2 nights at Sungai Relau. The mammals seen included Malayan Tapir, Leopard Cat, Sundaic Arboreal Niviventer, Bower’s Berylmys, Grey Tree Rat and 6 squirrel species. Link to trip report pdf including photos:  20120617-TamanNegara(Malaysia)-PaulCarter-TRv2.

Prevost's Squirrel
Prevost’s Squirrel

Birds seen included Large Frogmouth, Barred Eagle-Owl, Jambu Fruit Dove and Garnet Pitta. Dave’s detailed report on the birding is posted on his website norththailandbirding.com