Sunda Flying Lemur Facts: The Nature’s Gliding Marvel

Picture a strange animal, not exactly a lemur or a bat, gracefully gliding through the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Meet the Sunda flying lemur, a charming and skilled creature that comes to life at night. Join us as we discover interesting facts about these “living kites”, discovering their special abilities, secretive behaviors, and the threats they face in our world.

Sunda flying lemur
Scientific name: Galeopterus variegatus
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Dermoptera
Family: Cynocephalidae
Genus: Galeopterus

They are not a lemur

The Sunda flying lemur, aka Malayan flying lemur, Sunda colugo, or Malayan colugo, is a captivating species. Despite its name including “lemur,” it’s not a lemur at all but rather a colugo. Until now, it is one of only two types of flying lemurs, the other being the Philippine flying lemur.

These fascinating creatures have a size between 33 to 42 cm in length, excluding their 25 cm tail. They have thick, spotted fur in various colors like white, black, red, and grey. Their light-colored bellies and bold patches of color help them blend in with the forest when they’re up in the trees. They have big, curious eyes and small ears adorn their small head. Their feet are webbed and have curved claws.

Sunda flying lemur look like

Sunda flying lemurs cannot fly. All they can do is glide as they leap among trees thanks to a striking characteristic called patagium. This characteristic is a furry membrane that goes from a lemur’s neck to its fingertips, toes, and nails. This special skin can stretch up to 70 cm when the lemur glides, helping them travel long distances. There’s a record of one lemur gliding an impressive 136 meters with amazing skill.


The Sunda flying lemur is found in Southeast Asia, stretching from the mainland Sunda Shelf to Vietnam, Northern Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Cambodia. Even adjacent islands are part of its territory. While the Sunda lemur boasts an impressive range, its relative – the Philippine flying lemur – is limited to the southern Philippines.

Sunda flying lemur adaptions

This animal lives in many different places, moving easily between gardens, different types of forests, fruit orchards, swamps, rubber and coconut plantations, and even mountains. It can adapt to tree plantations, lowland dipterocarp forests, and highland areas.

Sunda Flying Lemur Diet

Despite having 34 teeth that might resemble those of carnivores, the Sunda flying lemur is surprisingly a strict herbivore. They mostly eat soft parts of plants found in the tree canopies where they forage, such as young leaves, flowers, buds, shoots, fruits, and even sap from specific tree species. In certain regions, the species even include insects in their diet. What’s more interesting is that sometimes they even lick tree bark to get important nutrients such as salts, minerals, and water.


The Sunda flying lemur is a tree dweller. With its amazing climbing and gliding skills, the species can easily move around and navigate in its arboreal environment. These animals are most active at night (nocturnal), they spend their days tucked away in tree holes or hiding in the thick branches.

Even though they usually like to be alone, these flying lemurs can sometimes be found in loose groups. But, even in these groups, they tend to be territorial regarding their foraging and sleeping spots. To communicate with each other, they use different sounds like hisses, chirps, and barks, but we’re not sure what these sounds mean.

While clumsy and helpless on the ground, the Sunda flying lemur takes to the air with ease. As mentioned above, its patagium allows it to glide up to 100 meters without dropping much in height. This skill helps them reach food in different parts of the rainforest, making it harder for predators to catch them.

They’re not just good at gliding; their climbing skills are impressive too. They have a cool “hopping” move where they stretch their front legs and then bring up their hind legs. This agility helps them defend themselves by quickly climbing higher or freezing when they feel threatened.


The information about Sunda flying lemurs’ reproduction is not much. Their mating season occurs at any time of the year. After mating, the females will go through a 60-day gestation period. They usually give birth to one baby, although sometimes there are twins.

Sunda flying lemur and her baby
The baby is attached to the mom

When the babies are born undeveloped and only weigh about 35 grams. They stick to their mother’s belly until they are old enough to wean off. The mothers will make a warm pouch near their tail for the baby to stay in. The young wean off at 6 months old, and they become able to have babies themselves at around 3 years old.

Females can mate soon after giving birth, and they might even be pregnant while still taking care of their first baby. The lifespan of Sunda flying lemurs is about 15 years in captivity, but we’re not sure how long they live in the wild.

Conservation Status

As herbivores, Sunda flying lemurs play a crucial role in spreading seeds and pollinating flowers. Despite their “Least Concern” classification on the IUCN Red List, these species are facing several threats.

Deforestation poses a significant risk by diminishing the habitats of the species, leading to fragmentation of their natural forest environments. Furthermore, local communities occasionally engage in hunting these creatures for their meat and skin. The competition with plantain squirrels for food resources also poses a challenge. Its population is about 1000 and this number is decreasing.



Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment