The Philippine Flying Lemur (Colugo)


Known by its local name, kagwang, the Philippine Flying Lemur is one of the only two living separate species of flying lemur, or colugo’s, the other being the Sunda (Malayan) Flying Lemur. Despite its name it is actually not a lemur and it can’t fly. Instead they glide long distances, not fly, and are the closest living relatives to primates.

They have flaps of skin that surround almost the entire body and extend from the fingers and toes to the tail, that when it glides, it looks like a bat. Because of this it was once thought they were related to bats. When the flying lemur wants to glide from one tree to another, it holds its arms and legs out, creating a parachute or wing-glider type of effect, soaring 50 to 100 metres in one effortless motion. Flying lemurs never purposely descend to the ground, where they move slowly and awkwardly due to the large flaps of skins that hang from their bodies, rendering them nearly helpless when they attempt to walk upright. They spend their entire lives up in trees, sleeping in tree hollows or hanging upside down from branches during the heat of the day. The flying lemur eats a diet consisting entirely of leaves, buds, fruit and flowers, but only from certain species of plants. The destruction of its habitat has therefore been fatal for this animal, and because it’s difficult to find the right food for them when in captivity, captive flying lemurs often meet early deaths. It eats by grabbing a branch, pulling it towards its mouth and biting off a piece of leaf. Water is obtained by licking drops from wet leaves.

The Philippine flying lemur (C. volans) is found only on islands belonging to the Philippines, while the Sundan or Malayan flying lemur (C. variegates) is found in the rainforests of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra and Borneo.

They are surprisingly clumsy climbers. Lacking opposable thumbs and not being especially strong, they proceed upwards in a series of slow hops, gripping onto the bark of trees with their small, sharp claws. They are as comfortable hanging underneath a branch as sitting on top of it. In the air, however, they are very capable, and can glide as far as 70 metres (230 feet) from one tree to another with minimal loss of height.

Because of their shy and nocturnal nature, and living in the dense rainforests, little is still known about the habits on both these species and more study and research is still needed to find out more about these lovely creatures.

About The Author

Executive Editor & Founder

Ligaya is the Executive Editor & Writer at Pinoy-Culture.com. She lives in NYC with her two dogs and spends her time reading, writing, collecting and buying books online and in safe haven, Strand Bookstore, watching her guilty tv show pleasure Vikings, and overdosing herself in coffee as a certified caffeine addict. Her book, Diwatahan: A Look Into the Precolonial Beliefs, Practices, Myths, & Folklore of the Philippines, is currently in progress and is scheduled to be published in Summer of 2017.

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