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COLUGO (FLYING LEMUR) CYNOCEPHALUS VARIEGATES

Colugo (Flying Lemur) Cynocephalus variegates

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When I came home in the late afternoon, my son Giddie handed me a towel with a strange little animal sleeping inside. Inactivity is a bad sign and this didn't look good, unless the animal is nocturnal.

The optimist in me said just keep it in the towel, put it in a basket in a quiet place and check again after dark. I cleaned out a wicker basket, put the colugo inside, and placed the works on top of a large dresser. Then I went back to the computer.

Amporn came home and took a nap that lasted until after dark. Suddenly she ran out of the bedroom, yelling "Something's in there" again and again. I laughed; the animal was nocturnal and healthy.

First cataloged in 1799, the Colugo is not really a lemur, but one of two species in the Dermoptera, or "skin-wing" family. C. variegates is the Malay Peninsula specie, while C. volans is the Philippine colugo.

With only two species in the same family, Colugo serve as evidence of Sunda Shelf biodiversity allowing the family to migrate from Phuket to the Philippines when seas retreated 120 meters only 18,000 years ago.

As expected, colugos spend their lives in trees, eating their own special variety according to the local mix.

Take colugo away from their local habitat and they don't do well. The longest one lived in captivity was 15 weeks, so a rehabbers job is to get the animal back into nature as soon as possible.

Only problem was a stranger dropped off the colugo at my house and left it with my son Giddie without saying where they found it, a serious matter if this is an infant that fell from a tree. In "nutrition" cases, the rehab issue becomes how much strength the animal loses before it is healthy enough to release?

When I researched the Colugo and realized its delicate diet, I knew I had to get it back home immediately. Every day in captivity is a day of energy loss, a serious matter. The question became "Where was home" and "How old is this animal?" Is this a baby, or a full grown adult?

Since the colugo was dropped off at my house, I guessed it was from near my home, and it appeared to be juvenile.

I thought about it for six hours, took these shots along the way, and in the wee morning hours dropped the colugo on a banana tree up the slope, hoping the colugo would get a bite to eat, find its family, and fly home. The odds were small, but the only hope the delicate diet colugo had.



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