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COLUGO » Physical description and Way of Life

The Colugo or Flying Lemur is a rare mammal that has the strange ability to glide, thus giving the impression that it is a bird.

This rare animal is also known as Flying Lemur, names that vary depending on the region and language. In spite of this, it receives the scientific name of Galoepterus variegatus and together with a small group of species that possess similar capacities, it enters the order of the Dermoptera.

Description of the Flying Lemur

The Colugo is a rare mammal that does not actually fly, as it does not maintain or control flight as birds do; its ability is rather that of gliding.

Using an extension of skin that covers its back and joins the front and back legs, this specimen manages to stay in the air; this skin even covers its toes which gives it greater stability when it flies through the air.

Its long legs are used for gliding, but also for a better grip on the trees as it is relatively large, measuring about 35 cm long. Its coat is reddish in colour, although it can also be seen with greyish whites and blacks.

Its small head has large eyes that serve as a guide in the dark nights of the forest, avoiding collisions. Although they can be active during the day, they are more active at night. They have a small tail which is also covered by the skin membrane.

The females that have given birth, always a single calf, dive from tree to tree instead of gliding; the sharp claws of the Galleopithecus give it all the grip it needs in such circumstances.

Habitat and Geographical Distribution of the Colugo

This rare species inhabits the jungle areas of Southeast Asia. They can be seen in their frantic flight around the islands of Malaysia, Myanmar, Borneo, Sumatra, Siam and Bangka.

This is a wide range of habitat, allowing it to breed quietly and freely. They are territorial animals, in particular the males defend their territories from other invading Galleopithecus.

What does the Colugo feed on?

The Colugo is an herbivorous animal that mainly eats fruit.

Getting its food is not a problem since in the tropical areas where it lives, fruits are abundant and very varied. This gives them a nutritional stability that few possess, since the jungles have a tree biodiversity that produces food almost all year round.

Facts about Reproduction

Not much is known about the reproduction of the Colugo or Flying Lemur, however, it is known that from the age of 3 they reach sexual maturity and are ready to reproduce.

During the mating season, the males enter into frenzied and even violent fights among themselves for the right to be with the female.

After a gestation period of two months, the mother gives birth to a calf that will be fed with milk until it is six months old.

Some threats from the Flying Lemur

Although it is not known for sure which are the Colugo’s predators, this animal is subject to a great variety of threats. For example, the world’s tropical forests are being deforested for various reasons: overpopulation, illegal deforestation, etc. The jungles of Southeast Asia are no exception.

This advance is representing a cataclysm in the world of the colugos or Flying Lemur, ending not only the trees that serve as home but also as food, which does not suppose a great effort to understand that it ends up forcing it into a state of survival.

Another problem is global warming, since natural cycles have been altered, changing the food seasons giving times of abundance and sudden extreme shortages, resulting in the suffering of the food cycle of the colugos.

As a consequence, reproduction is more limited and the young also pay the consequences in their development.