Pteromys volans 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Pteromys volans (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Russian Flying Squirrel, Siberian Flying Squirrel
French Polatouche, POLATOUCHE
Spanish Ardilla Voladora Europea, ARDILLA VOLADORA EUROPEA

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-08-19
Assessor(s): Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D., Henttonen, H., Maran, T. & Hanski, I.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Listed as Least Concern, although this species is experiencing declines in some parts of its range, they are not at a rate close to 30% over three generations throughout its range. Overall it is very widespread and hence it is currently considered to be Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Siberian flying squirrel has a wide range in the northern Palaearctic, extending from Finland, Estonia and Latvia eastwards through Russia, Mongolia, northwest China to the Pacific coast (Panteleyev 1998, Sulkava 1999) including the Korean Peninsula and northeast China. It also occurs on the Pacific islands of Sakhalin (Russia) and Hokkaido (Japan). It occurs from sea level up to the tree line (H. Henttonen pers. comm. 2006), and in northern China it occurs up to 2,500 m asl (Smith and Xie, in press). In Mongolia it occurs in forest habitats including the Hövsgöl, Hangai and Hentii mountain ranges, and the western parts of the Mongol Altai Mountain Range.
Countries occurrence:
China; Estonia; Finland; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Mongolia; Russian Federation
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species continues to decline in many parts of its range owing to loss of old-growth mixed forests. In Finland, it is still locally quite common but declining everywhere, with detailed local studies showing 20-58% declines over periods of 10-20 years (Hanski et al. 2001, Hanski 2006). Declines were noted in all parts of Finland; there were no areas where the population was stable or increasing, and declines are predicted to continue in the future (Hanski 2006). A three year census ending in 2005 estimated the Finnish population at 140,000 females (95% confidence limits 134,800-151,300: Hanski 2006). It has been found at c.50 sites in Estonia (T. Maran pers. comm. 2006). In Russia, it is considered widespread but rare in Karelia, and in the Karelian isthmus its status is similar to that of the Finnish population (A. Tikhonov in litt. 2006). It is considered to be somewhat more common in the St Petersburg area. It is common on Hokkaido in Japan.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It prefers mature spruce-dominated forests with a significant proportion of deciduous trees, especially aspen Populus tremula, birch Betula sp. and alder Alnus sp. (Reunanen et al. 2000, 2002). Large deciduous trees are an important source of both food and nest-sites: the flying squirrel feeds primarily on alder and birch catkins in the winter and alder leaves in the summer, and nests in old woodpecker holes or natural cavities in decaying wood. They are nocturnal and do not hibernate. They are found from lowlands to montane regions (Abe, et al., 2005).
Generation Length (years):3

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Used as accessories.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Modern intensive forestry and logging are the major threats to this species (Hanski et al. 2001). Large tracts of mature boreal forest have been felled and replaced by a managed forest landscape that is a mosaic of semi-natural forest, young saplings, and clear-cut patches. Fragmentation of forests is a particular problem for this species, as flying squirrels are reluctant to cross open areas on the ground. Managed forests also tend to have fewer deciduous trees (which are an essential winter food source), less decaying wood and fewer tree-holes (which are needed for nest-sites). In parts of Russia, it has been estimated that up to 50% of logging is illegal (Kotlobay and Ptichnikov 2002). Illegal logging is particularly destructive, as unsustainable practices such as high-grading or 'skimming' are used, meaning that for every ten trees felled only one or two high-quality logs will be used (Kotlobay and Ptichnikov 2002). The species is also hunted for commercial use of its fur, but this is not considered a major threat at present (Nowak 1991).

In Mongolia, habitat loss caused by selective logging, human-caused fires and natural wildfires in some parts of its range are a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and on Annex II* and Annex IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directive, in parts of its range where these apply. It is considered Vulnerable at the national level in Finland (Rassi et al. 2001). The Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture and Ministry of the Environment have published detailed guidelines on how to deal with flying squirrels in forestry. Specific recommendations include protecting known feeding and nesting sites (usually this means that trees surrounding nesting tree will be protected within 30 m, and "corridors" will be saved so that nesting sites are not isolated) (Anon. 2002, 2003, H. Henttonen pers. comm. 2006). It occurs in a number of protected areas.

It is listed on the Chinese Red List as Vulnerable A1cd.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
1. Forest -> 1.2. Forest - Subarctic
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.1. Small-holder plantations
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.2. Agro-industry plantations
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Abe, H., Ishii, N., Ito, T., Kaneko, Y., Maeda, K., Miura, S. and Yoneda, M. 2005. A Guide to the Mammals of Japan. Tokai University Press, Kanagawa, Japan.

Anonymous. 2002. Liito-oravatyöryhmän 2002 raportti. Työryhmämuistio MMM.

Anonymous. 2003. Liito-oravan Lisääntymis - ja Levähdyspaikkojen Määrittäminen ja Turvaaminen Metsien Käytössä. Miljöministeriet (Ministry of the Environment) MMM Dnro 3713/430/2003.

Hanski, I. K. 2006. Liito-oravan Pteromys volans Suomen kannan koon arviointi. Loppuraportti [Assessment of the Size of the Siberian Flying Squirrel Pteromys volans Population in Finland]. Final Report. Helsinki, Finland.

Hanski, I. K., Henttonen, H., Liukko, U.-M., Meriluoto, M. and Mäkelä, A. 2001. Liito-oravan (Pteromys volans) biologia ja suojelu Suomessa [The biology and conservation of the flying squirrel in Finland]. Suomen Ympäristö [Reports of the Ministry of Environment] 459: 1-130.

Hokkanen, H., Tormala, T. and Vuorinen, H. 1982. Decline of the flying squirrel Pteromys volans. l. populations in Finland. Biological Conservation 23: 273-284.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

Kotlobay, A. and Ptichnikov, A. 2002. Illegal Logging in the Southern Part of the Russian Far East: Problem Analysis and Proposed Solutions. WWF, Moscow, Russia.

Mitchell-Jones, A.J., Amori, G., Bogdanowicz, W., Kryštufek, B., Reijnders, P.J.H., Spitzenberger, F., Stubbe, M., Thissen, J.B.M., Vohralik, V. and Zima, J. 1999. The Atlas of European Mammals. Academic Press, London, UK.

Nowak, R.M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Panteleyev, P. A. 1998. The Rodents of the Palaearctic Composition and Areas. Pensoft, Moscow, Russia.

Rassi, P., Alanen, A., Kanerva, T. and Mannerkoski, I. 2001. The Red List of Finnish Species (English Summary). Ministry of the Environment & Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki.

Reunanen, P., Monkkonen, M. and Nikula, A. 2000. Managing boreal forest landscapes for flying squirrels. Conservation Biology 14: 218-226.

Reunanen, P., Mönkkönen, M. and Nikula, A. 2002. Habitat requirements of the Siberian flying squirrel in northern Finland: comparing field survey and remote sensing data. Annales Zoologici Fennici 39: 7-20.

Smith, A.T. and Xie, Y. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Sulkava, S. 1999. Pteromys volans. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stubbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík and J. Zima (eds), The Atlas of European Mammals, Academic Press, London, UK.

Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D., Henttonen, H., Maran, T. & Hanski, I. 2016. Pteromys volans. In: (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T18702A115144995. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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