A new Mystery Creature…

Week 14th to 20th October 2013

Last week’s Mystery Creature was a… Sunda Colugo (Galeopterus varigatus)!

photo credit: Lip Kee via photopin cc

This cute little animal is often called the Sunda flying lemur… although it is not actually a lemur and it does not fly! With dense mottled fur, small faces and those large eyes, the Colugo is found in South East Asian rain forests.  It is an arboreal creature, moving with stealth and agility among the trees and gliding (rather than flying) from tree to tree with the help of some kite-like skin flaps called the patagium.  This gliding membrane extends from the animal’s neck right down to its fingers, toes and tail.

The Sunda Colugo can glide over a distance of  up to 100 metres,with little loss of elevation in travel. However it does need more open spaces for safe gliding and prefers the tree top canopies of its dense forest habitat.

Despite this agility in the trees and in the air, on land the animal is relatively helpless.

The Colugo is a solitary, nocturnal creature.  The female usually gives birth to a single offspring at a time, which she carried on her abdomen, often protected in a pouch created from her folded patagium.

They are herbivores, eating mainly leaves but also some fruit, flowers, buds, nectar and even tree sap.  They have some specially adapted comb like incisor teeth which are thought to be used for scraping sap off trees.

The mottled patches of fur on the Colugo resemble lichen and act as camouflage for the animal.  They are typically the size of a large squirrel.  

Though it may not look much like us, the Colugo has actually been shown to be a very close relative to humans – its genetic code reveals it to be the closest living relative to primates! 


Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!