The Pygmy Glider

The pygmy glider, most commonly known as the feather-tail glider, is also known as the flying mouse and its scientific name acrobates pygmaeus. It is the smallest mammalian glider of all. Pygmy gliders can be found in eastern Australia to southeast Australia. They tend to nest up high in trees. They chose their nest solely on the abundance of food.

Feather-tail Glider

The feather-tail’s fur tends to be mid-grey/brown with its underbelly being a lighter color; it has dark patches around its eyes and a white patch behind its large round ears. Head and body length of the feather-tail is 65-80mm, and its tail length is also between 70-80mm
Both male and females weight around 10 to 14 grams, males being slightly heaver. Its feather-like tail is the most obvious feature of this creature. This aspect is specifically unique, because no other mammal has this. On each side of the tail are two sets of lengthy unbendable hairs that grow horizontally. Other noticeable aspects of the feather-tail glider are its brush-tipped tongue to feed on nectar, its large eyes for nocturnal binocular vision, and its large serrated pads on each toe. Unlike most gliders, the feather-tail glider’s membrane is between its elbows and knees not from wrist to ankle like the flying squirrel. The membrane has long hair along its edges.


Feathertail Glider in "Flight"

The feather tail initiate it’s flight by first launching itself with it’s legs extended. It’s membrane and flattened tail increase the body surface. And as we know surface area improves lift and drag performance of the body as a whole. This allows it to glide long distances. Its tail can act as a rudder and help navigate its decent and also assists in decelerating. Its fur covered toes holds many sweat glands, which produce a lot of moisture. This increases the surface tension of the creature and also offers it with outstanding grip. The marvelous creature can glide up to 25 meters. The pygmy Glider is typically active at night. Because they live in trees and don’t typically go to ground level, gliding is crucial and efficient since it doesn’t cost much energy. Also on the floor, they are more vulnerable to predators.


  1. Gliding and the Functional origins of Flight, Robert Dudley et al., Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. (2007)
  2. Acrobates pygmaeus: Feathertail glider, Adam Shiroff, University of Michigan (1999)
  3. Animal Facts: Feathertail glider, Judy Evans, Helium inc. (2010)

One Comment

gjperry posted on November 24, 2012 at 1:19 am

Why do you think they have the lengthy unbendable hairs? I would wonder if it helps to the support the tail when steering. Nice post, though. I can’t believe such a small animal can glide so far!