85 TAPROBANICA VOL. 05: NO. 01
The small flying squirrel (Petinomys
fuscocapillus) observed after 78 years in
Petinomys fuscocapillus (Kelaart, 1852) is one
of two nocturnal Squirrels found in Sri Lanka
(Phillips, 1980), and the distribution of the
species is only known through a few possible
occurrences and museum specimens which
were collected nearly hundred years ago. The
species was considered to be extinct in India
until 1989, when it was rediscovered in a
coconut grove in Kerala state, India (Kurup,
1989). In Sri Lanka it was reported by Phillips
(1935) from the wet and intermediate zones of
the island, and subsequently the occurrence of
this species was confirmed by camera trap by
Jayasekara et al. (2007) in Sinharaja tropical
rain forest. Here we report the first physical
examination of this species in Sri Lanka after
78 years, and we publish the first color-
photographs. The authors obtained a direct
sighting of the Small flying squirrel in the
Knuckles Forest Reserve (7o 32’ 55.0” N and
80o 47’ 45.9” E) at an elevation of 522 m asl.
An individual of Small flying squirrel
(Petinomys fuscocapillus) was observed (Fig.
1A, B) at 2130 hr on 26 January of 2013, on a
tree 9m above ground level, by the side of the
Laggala – Illukkubura road. Photographs were
taken using a Canon 550 D fitted with a 100-
400mm Canon zoom lens. The species
identification was confirmed using the Manual
of Mammals of Sri Lanka by Phillips (1980).
To confirm our identification, specimens of
phillipinensis were examined in the National
Museum of Sri Lanka.
The observed forest habitat is a well-developed
semi-evergreen forest. It is a mature forest
which has a continuous canopy; hence the
forest interior is dark. Approximate canopy
cover of this habitat is 80%. Height of the
forest profile of this location is around 25m.
We observed the animal for approximately 30
min. Its locomotion is slow and deliberate, and
the tail is stretched out; when stationary,
including when feeding, the tail is held above
the body. It was very selective in feeding; we
observed it to eat only the tender part of a
shoot, and the leaves and the rest of the densely
grown climber were discarded. It was not
observed gliding; when moving about it stuck
to the canopy and used branches of the
adjoining trees, perhaps due to the moderately
developed membrane of this species. More
observations would be needed before coming to
conclusions about its normal locomotion.
Figure 1A&B: Petinomys fuscocapillus observed
on 26 January 2013.
The authors extend their sincere gratitude to
Gamini at Ranamure village of Mathale for
tireless hours in the field, Gayan Edirisinghe
for sharing literature, and the Forest department
and Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri
TAPROBANICA, ISSN 1800-427X. April, 2013. Vol. 05, No. 01: pp. 85-86.
© Taprobanica Private Limited, 146, Kendalanda, Homagama, Sri Lanka.
Petinomys fuscocapillus AFTER 78 YEARS FROM SRI LANKA Download full-text
TAPROBANICA VOL. 05: NO. 01
Lanka for numerous support. Finally we would
like to thank Colin Groves (Australian National
University) for editing the manuscript.
Jayasekara, P., U.
Wijesundara and S. Takatsuki, 2007. Identifying
diurnal and nocturnal frugivores in the terrestrial
and arboreal layers of a tropical rain forest in Sri
Lanka. Ecotropica, 13: 7-15.
Kelaart, E. F., 1852. Prodromus Faunae
Zeylanicae: Being contributions to the Zoology of
Ceylon, Kandy: 197.
Kurup, G. U., 1989. Rediscovery of small
Travancore Flying Squirrel. Oryx, 23: 2-3.
Phillips, W. W. A., 1935. Manual of the
Mammals of Ceylon. Ceylon Journal of Science,
Dulau and Company, London: 371.
Phillip, W. W. A., 1980. Manual of the mammals
of Sri Lanka, Part 2. Wildlife and nature
protection society of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri
Submitted: 2 April 2013, Accepted: 20 April 2013
Sectional Editor: Colin P. Groves
R. P. Nanayakkara1, N. Vishvanath1,2 and
T. G. T. Kusuminda1,3
R. Weerasinghe, S.
1 Biodiversity Education & Research, Pita-
kotte, Sri Lanka.
2 Young Biologists’ Association of Sri Lanka,
National Museum of Sri Lanka.
3 Department of Export Agriculture, Faculty of
Agricultural Sciences, Sabaragamuwa
University of Sri Lanka.