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flying squirrels

MOMONGA cf. MUSASABI

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The principal flying squirrel species in Japan is the relatively large musasabi (Petaurista leucogenys) of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. It is also native to Korea and china. Its head and body measures about 40 centimeters (16 in) long and the tail about 36 centimeters (14 in). Its color ranges from gray to blackish brown on the back, with striking white spots on the cheeks and a white underbelly. It is common in forested areas up to an elevation of 2,000 meters 96,600ft) and often lives in tall trees near human dwellings. An annual litter of two is born in spring or summer. The musasabi glides from tree to tree for an average span of 30 meters (100ft) and a maximum of 180 meters (590 ft). It feeds on plants. The other flying squirrel found in Japan is the smaller MOMONGA (Eurasian flying squirrel; Pteromys momonga).

MUSASABI was often used as a nickname for burglars because of the way the animal glides nimbly and silently through the air. It is also claimed to be the true identity of the TENGU (long-nosed goblins)said to live in the mountains.

from JAPAN An Illustrated Encyclopedia, KODANSHA, p.383


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