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FEATHER TAIL GLIDER

Acrobates aculeatus


This tiny Glider is the smallest of all gliders with a head and body length of just 6.5 - 8cm.
They get their name from their remarkable tail which is flat with stiff fringed hair growing horizontally either side all the way to the tip. The tail is used to steer and brake as they glide up to 20 meters through the trees. They are the only known Mammal to have a feather like tail. Tail length is 7-8cm and shaped just like the feather on a bird. The weight of an adult is 10-15 gram, so this tiny Glider is often missed when in trouble, or mistaken for a mouse when the cat brings it is, which is often how WIRES become involved.
Feathertail Gliders are from the Burramyidae family and are related to the Pygmy Possum. What fascinates me most about these animals is that because they are so small they have trouble staying warm when it is cold or when there is a shortage of food, like the Sugar Glider they enter a state known as Torpor. This means that for short periods, their breathing slows down and the animal becomes unresponsive, the body temperature drops almost to that of its surroundings. This state is not to be mistaken for hibernation which is for much longer periods and is not known to occur in Marsupials. The fur is grey/brown above with light cream to white abdomen.
Like all gliders they have a skin fold known as the gliding membrane, in Feathertails this membrane extends from the elbow to the knee. Fringed with long hair along the edge, the body surface is increased. When stretched out, the glider can float long distances, like a falling leaf. It is at home in the trees, feeding on insects, pollen and nectar it launches itself into the air when it needs to get from one tree to the next.
To become airborne, they hurl themselves from the tree with legs outstretched; the flap of skin between front and back feet extending like a parachute. The flattened tail helps this tiny possum to glide, steer, brake and anchor itself on landing.

 The feet resemble that of a frog except with fur, and the large pads on the toes which have serrated groves underneath allow them to climb just about anything. In fact many sweat glands creating moisture on the foot pads allow this tiny Glider the surface tension like mini suction cups to climb even vertical panes of glass...
They are found throughout Eastern Australia from South Aust. through to far north Queensland.
These gliders will build their nests in anything from abandoned bird’s nests to banana bags and line the nest with leaves, feathers and shredded bark. The nest is 6-8cm spherical and closed. Usual nesting places include palms, stag horn and tree ferns.
 They have been known to live in communal groups of up to 30 and the breeding cycle is all year round in the Northern parts and spring, summer to late winter in the South. The female has four teats but rarely carries more than three young at a time and can fall pregnant whilst still carrying young in the pouch. They have a life expectancy of 4 years in the wild. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance with the obvious difference being the pouch in the female.



Juvenile 4.5 gram

Inage by Lib Ruytenberg

Juvenile 4.5 gram

Inage by Lib Ruytenberg

Juvenile 4.5 gram

Inage by Leoni Byron-Jackson

Juvenile 4.5 gram

Inage by Leoni Byron-Jackson

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Juvenile 5.5 gram

Inage by Natalie Meyer

Adult

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

Adult

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

 

Adult

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

Adult

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

Image by Sumitra Birch

Juvenile 5gram

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

Image by Kim Moore-Evans 5 gram
Image by Kim Moore-Evans 5 gram
m

Juvenile 1 gram

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

 

Image by Katrina Ulyatt

Juvenile 4.5gram

Image by Sharon McGrigor

 

Juvenile 3 gram

Image by Sharon McGrigor

Juvenile 5gram

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

Juvenile 5gram

Image by Susanne Ulyatt

 

 

August 3

If you have a fireplace and the weather is cold, firewood is what is needed. Firewood is usually taken from an old dead tree, it is dry,and the bark is loose and looks great for use in the fireplace.
Please spare a thought for native animals that just as us looks at that old dead tree as something great for keeping dry and warm.

Native animals such as Feather-Tailed gliders often choose trees that either have a nice hollow or timber that has loose bark to make their home, not just each individual but for the whole family.

These two little juvenile Feather-tailed gliders weighing just 4.5 and 4.6 gram were found yesterday when they were discovered in a small hollow within an old dead tree being chopped down for firewood.

WIRES also receive calls for these small gliders when they are found inside the house after firewood has been collected. These gliders would have been under the loose bark.

Please make sure you check under the bark before throwing that piece of wood in the fire, animals such as frogs, gliders and small lizards may be calling it home.

Image by Lib Ruytenberg

 

 

 

October 28 2014

Old tress can be hazardous and are often cut down for safety.
Old trees are also the ones used by many native animals as they are the most likely to contain hollows.

WIRES was called after a Feathertailed glider was seen vacating a hollow as an old tree was cut down. After investigating the hollow 5 tiny Feathertailed joeys and a frog were found within.

 

The part of the tree with the hollow was separated and attached in the closest tree to the cut down one.

 

 

WIRES rescuer found some of the leaf litter that had fallen out of the nest and added some more. The joeys were put back in the hollow, the frog placed nearby.

When our rescuer went back at 6am in the morning she found that the leaf litter had all been re-arranged beautifully by mum Feathertail and the frog was also back in residence. A roof was then nailed to the top to protect the nest from rain and unwelcome visitors.

The little family was safely back together and the lodger seemed happy as well with the new location.

 

 

 

ugust 12 2014

Gliders come in many sizes, the smallest being the Feather-tailed glider with a head and body length of just 6.5 - 8cm and an adult weight of 10-15 gram.

This little lady was found on 2 August inside a house with her sibling. Unfortunately her sibling did not survive however Floss as she has been named by her carer is doing well and now ready for exploring the world around her ( in her small enclosure at this stage)

 

She weighed a mighty 4.5 gram on arrival and has since grown to 5.6 gram, quite a weight gain in just 10 days when one is so tiny.

 

 

They get their name from Atheir remarkable tail which is flat with stiff fringed hair growing horizontally either side all the way to the tip. The tail is used to steer and brake as they glide up to 20 meters through the trees. They are the only known mammal to have a feather like tail. Tail length is 7-8cm and shaped just like the feather on a bird. Due to their small size this tiny Glider is often missed when in trouble, or mistaken for a mouse when the cat brings it inside.

Feather-tailed gliders build their nests in anything from abandoned bird’s nests to banana bags and line the nest with leaves, feathers and shredded bark. The nest is 6-8cm spherical and closed. Usual nesting places include palms, stag horn and tree ferns. They can at times be found inside the house in winter after someone has brought a load of firewood inside. They may build their nest under the loose bark of old trees as this can be a lovely warm and secure home for these tiny animals. Unfortunately less secure once the timber is taken as firewood. Please ensure you check any loose bark before placing it in your fireplace, not only tiny gliders may be living beneath the bark, so can green tree frogs. Like all gliders they have a skin fold known as the gliding membrane, in Feather-tails this membrane extends from the elbow to the knee. Fringed with long hair along the edge, the body surface is increased. When stretched out, the glider can float long distances, like a falling leaf. It is at home in the trees, feeding on insects, pollen and nectar it launches itself into the air when it needs to get from one tree to the next.

To become airborne, they hurl themselves from the tree with legs outstretched; the flap of skin between front and back feet extending like a parachute. The flattened tail helps this tiny possum to glide, steer, brake and anchor itself on landing. The feet resemble that of a frog except with fur, and the large pads on the toes which have serrated groves underneath allow them to climb just about anything. In fact many sweat glands creating moisture on the foot pads allow this tiny Glider the surface tension like mini suction cups to climb even vertical panes of glass. They are found throughout Eastern Australia from South Aust. through to far north Queensland.

They have been known to live in communal groups of up to 30 and the breeding cycle is all year round in the Northern parts and spring, summer to late winter in the South. The female has four teats but rarely carries more than three young at a time and can fall pregnant whilst still carrying young in the pouch. They have a life expectancy of 4 years in the wild. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance with the obvious difference being the pouch in the female.

 

 

 

 

13 January 2013

This little Feather-tailed glider was found at Rosebank clinging to a stick in a bucket of water. He was suffering from exhaustion and is in care for just 24 hours when he will be taken back and released this evening. The water bucket now has a stick much longer so any critters searching for a drink of water in this extreme heat.can escape should they like this little fellow fall in.

He is seen in images below much better after a good feed and some rest.

As soon as it gets dark he will be released back to his colony.

Thank you to Fred and family for being vigilant and calling WIRES.

 

 

 

Updated January 11, 2017  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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