The word “Momonga” isn’t something you usually hear tossed around in casual conversation or something you hear as you walk on the street. The things they pertain to can be the different animals that fall under the genus called momonga or notable characters from Japanese anime that are named Momonga.
The Type of Momonga Known as the Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel
If you are an animal enthusiast, upon hearing the word “Momonga”, you probably already thought about the Pteromys momonga which is more commonly known as the Japanese flying squirrel. These gliding mammals are quite exotic because they are only found in specific places in the world. Japan is one of those places and they reside in the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu.
Naturally, since there are a lot of predators small mammals like these have to worry about on land, they have always favored habitats that have a lot of tall trees so that they can easily move around from above the ground. With this being said, it makes perfect sense that the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel can be found in Honshu and Kyushu because of the sub-alpine forests and the boreal evergreen forests that can be found there.
If a person is looking for them on these islands, their best chance to find them is at night because these animals are nocturnal. You should also try looking for them in trees like pine and spruce because these are the types of trees that they usually choose as locations for their nests. They also like living in nooks made by woodpeckers so if you are in an area of the forest with a lot of woodpeckers, this is a good indication that these flying squirrels are also nearby. You should also know that you can only find both genders living on the same tree during mating season. Aside from the mating season, you will most probably encounter their trees and nests occupied by the same sex.
These mammals are called dwarves for a reason and this is because their length from head to tail ranges from about 230 mm to 360 mm. From their head to the end of their body, the length is usually around 120 to 230 mm. The length of their entire tail ranges from about 110 to 130 mm. The combination of their small size and the silvery gray color of their fur plays a huge role in their defense mechanism because makes it incredibly hard to see them on barks of trees.
There are different variations of patagium with regards to these gliding mammals. A bat’s patagium or wings or gliding membrane is attached from the tip of their wings to the tip of their tail. For the flying squirrel, their patagium is attached from their wrist to their ankles. This means that they glide through the air like Spiderman did in the movie “Spiderman: Homecoming”. Don’t be fooled by the size of its wings though because these gliders are known to be able to glide distances of over 100 meters in one go.
These animals breed only once or twice a year which happens within the months of May through July. Once conceived, it will take about 4 weeks before these squirrels possibly give birth 1 to 5 offspring in an instance. On an average though, they give birth to only 2 or 3.
A writer named Nowak who worked for the Johns Hopkins University Press studied these animals during their development stages and he found interesting facts about them. When the baby flying squirrels are born, they look like naked mole rats because they have absolutely no fur on them. They are also completely helpless during these times so they depend on their mother for food. Their fur starts to come in usually a week after birth. After the second week, a majority of these offspring have their toes separated and their ear canals also start to open up during this time. It is also in this period of time that these babies gain the ability to move their tails and their facial whiskers as well.
After the third week, the offspring are more responsive to loud noises and the hair on their tails start to thicken even more. At week 4, the squirrels are now completely furry and their eyes have also opened up completely. This period is also the time when these young ones try to feed themselves with what their mother brings home to their nest. At the 5th week, they are supposedly ready to do some exploring outside of the nest.
The things they eat are usually found around the trees that they live in. To be specific, what they consider as food are the likes of nuts, pine seeds, barks and buds of certain trees, fruits, and even insects in some cases. As for the animals that consider these flying squirrels as food or those who you could call predators to this mammal, the list is kept short because only nocturnal hunters like owls are consistently able to catch these momongas despite their quick movements and effective camouflage within the trees.
Since this mammal eats pine seeds, it also plays a role in the ecosystem. By simply eating these pine seeds, the Japanese flying squirrel actually contributes to the ecosystem because they become natural seed dispersers for the pine species. By doing so, they are indirectly maintaining their habitat because their actions lead to the growth of newer trees in their respective habitats. You should also know that since these animals are great at staying alive and since they live for about 4 to 5 years, the conservation status of the Japanese flying squirrel is ranked with “LC” which means “Least Concern”.
The Japanese Ezo Momonga
The “Ezo Momonga” is another flying squirrel species that you can find in Japan. This particular flying squirrel has an interesting origin because it is actually also known as the Siberian flying squirrel. Some of you might be wondering how a flying squirrel from Siberia reached the lands of Japan and the answer to this is that a very long time ago, the mainland of Siberia was attached to the island of Hokkaido. Nature took its course and sea levels rose to the point that the connection between these two lands was eaten up by the water. Because of this, some Siberian animals can be found in exclusively in Hokkaido and this gliding mammal is one of the most popular ones you can find there.
They are very popular, not because people know about their history and their connection to Siberia but because they are absolutely adorable. They are practically identical to the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel with their difference only being in the color of their fur. The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is coated with gray brown hair with its belly covered with white fur. The Ezo Momonga or the Pteromys volans, on the other hand, is coated with gray fur all over with its belly covered with blackish fur instead of the white belly of the dwarf flying squirrel. There is also a notable black stripe that runs between the neck and forelimb of the Ezo Momonga.
As for their difference in size, there isn’t much of a difference because the Ezo Momonga’s total length on average is also around 340 mm. Their tail length makes up about 90 to 140 mm of their total length and their body length makes up about 130 to 200 mm. The placement and attachment of their patagium or glide membrane are also identical to the dwarf flying squirrel, being attached from the wrist to the ankle of the animal.
The diet of the Ezo Momonga also differs by a little bit when compared to the Pteromys momonga because they eat leaves, seeds, buds, cones, sprouts, berries, nuts, and sometimes even bird eggs and nestlings. If the dwarf flying squirrel prefers trees like spruce and pine trees, the Siberian flying squirrel is known to favor trees like conifers and other deciduous trees found in old forests. Despite this difference in preference though, they also live in the holes in these trees that are usually made by woodpeckers.
Developing the same cycles as the dwarf flying squirrel for survivability, they are also nocturnal beings which mean that the only animals that are able to hunt them down with a good chance of succeeding are also those who usually hunt at night. Examples of such predators are martens, owls, and wild cats that also reside in the islands of Hokkaido.
Characters from Japanese Anime named Momonga
If you continue to search for things that are related the word “Momonga” and Japan, you will eventually encounter some Japanese anime characters that coincidentally have “Momonga” as their names. There are two notable anime characters that have this in common and they are Ainz Ooal Gown from the Overload anime and Vice Admiral Momonga from the extremely famous anime called One Piece.
Ainz Ooal Gown from the Overload series has a relation to the word “Momonga” because this was the name he used before he turned into the strongest adventurer in E-Rantel. He also goes by many other names in the different worlds that exist in anime universe like Momon, Supreme One, Strongest Magic Caster, and Sorcerer King. He is quite intimidating to look at because he looks like the Summoned Skull demon from the other name called Yu-Gi-Oh!
As for Vice Admiral Momonga, in the world of One Piece, he is part of the five vice admirals who led the operation called Buster Call on the Enies Lobby. This character is a huge man with a black mohawk and a mustache whose preferred weapon is a katana. Considering the look of both Ainz Ooal Gown and the Admiral, it is quite comical that they are named after one of the smallest mammals you will find in Japan. Some people think that the writers and illustrators of these anime meant to do this to add humor. Regardless of whether that claim is true or false, it surely succeeded in adding humor to the stories of these anime.
With all the information you learned here, it is quite obvious that despite the lack of national recognition for the momongas in Japan, it is very apparent that they are appreciated in this land. The mere fact that both species of this animal are nowhere near being endangered means that people know their value to the ecosystem. There are adorably cute and there aren’t many places in the world that you can find these types of animals.