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Colugos: Dermoptera

Behavior And Reproduction

Relatively little is known about colugos. They are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees and bushes. They are solitary animals that move from tree to tree by climbing and gliding. These animals are nocturnal, active at night. They spend the day resting inside tree holes or on branches or tree trunks. They rest either with their head up and all four claws clinging to a branch, or they hang upside down with their two rear claws holding onto the branch. In coconut trees, they curl up in a ball among the leaves.

Colugos usually emerge before dusk and climb to the top of trees. They move awkwardly up trees because of their patagium, bringing both their front limbs together and then both back limbs.

In the evening they move to a feeding area, gliding distances up to 230 feet (70 meters) in one leap. Colugos have been known to glide as far as 450 feet (135 meters) in a single glide. Colugos may land near the bottom of trees, and then climb back up trees slowly before they take off on another glide.


The national bird of the Philippines has a taste for colugos. The Philippine eagle is one of the world's rarest birds with only about 200 live birds. At one time it was thought this bird's favorite food was a monkey. But a report in one area of the Philippines found that 90 percent of the eagle's diet consists of colugos. The eagle can swoop down and catch the colugo in the air while it leaps from tree to tree.

Each colugo tends to have a certain feeding area, which the animal returns to every night. When eating, colugos use their front feet to pull a bunch of leaves towards them, and then use their tongues and teeth to pluck off the leaves.

Little is known about the mating of colugos. Females give birth to one or two young following a gestation, or pregnancy, period of sixty days. The offspring is born in an undeveloped state, almost like a marsupial, an animal that carries its young in a pouch. Young are carried on their mother's belly until they are weaned at about six months old. Females can fold the patagium near the tail to form a pouch for their young. When ready to forage, or look for food, females may carry their young with them. Young colugos cry out with duck-like sounds. Young colugos reach maturity when they are about two or three years old.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsColugos: Dermoptera - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Malayan Colugo (cynocephalus Variegatus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, COLUGOS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS