Anomaluridae – Anomalures

Native to the forests of central Africa, this family of scaly-tailed squirrels contains seven species divided into three genera

Ranging in size from small to moderate, these rodents possess gliding membranes similar to those found in flying squirrels, enabling them to traverse the treetops with remarkable agility and precision. This unique gliding ability allows Anomalurids to leap from tree to tree, covering impressive distances as they forage for food and evade predators in the dense canopy.

The distinguishing feature of Anomalurids is the presence of pointed raised scales on the underside of their tails, from which they derive their name. These specialized scales serve a crucial function in aiding the animals during climbing and jumping activities, providing traction and stability against the tree surface. This adaptation allows them to navigate vertical surfaces and execute precise leaps with ease, contributing to their remarkable agility and maneuverability in their arboreal habitat.

Despite their similarities to squirrels in terms of appearance and gliding behavior, Anomalurids are distinct from their rodent relatives in several key aspects. While squirrels primarily rely on their bushy tails for balance and communication, Anomalurids utilize their gliding membranes to perform intricate aerial maneuvers and navigate through the forest canopy. This unique adaptation sets them apart as specialized gliders within the rodent family, showcasing the diversity of evolutionary strategies employed by mammals to thrive in diverse environments.

In addition to their gliding abilities, Anomalurids exhibit a diverse range of dietary preferences, with a primary focus on seeds and fruits as their main sources of nutrition. However, these adaptable rodents are known to supplement their diet with occasional insect consumption, reflecting their opportunistic feeding behavior and ability to exploit a variety of food resources within their habitat. By feeding on seeds and fruits, they play important roles in seed dispersal and ecosystem dynamics, contributing to the regeneration and diversity of plant communities in their forest habitats.