The Squirrel Glider
is very similar in appearance to the more common Sugar
Glider, and to the untrained eye it would be hard to distinguish
the two.This glider is however almost double the size of the Sugar Glider,
its tail is also extremely bushy, and it is now listed on the threatened species list.
Head and body length is 180-230mm, with a bushy tail measuring 220-300
mm, so as the Sugar Glider the tail is longer than the body.
Other distinguishing differences is the shape of the face, the Squirrel
Glider has a more pointed face, slightly narrower and longer ears. This
would only be apparent if you were to see the two species together.
This Glider is unfortunately only found rarely these days due to loss
of habitat and cat attacks. It can be found in dry sclerophyll forest
and woodland, sometimes bordering rainforest, but seems absent from
dense coastal ranges.
Its diet is similar to the Sugar Glider being gum produced by Acacias,
certain eucalypts, invertebrates, and invertebrate exudates.
It builds its own leaf lined nest as the Sugar Glider.
Breeding takes place from August with each female producing 2 young
which develop in the pouch till 70 days old, they are then placed in
the communal nest where they spend a further 30 days before leaving
with mum to forage at night. As most Australian marsupials they are
strictly nocturnal, not venturing out till it is totally dark. Predators
are many, untill white man arrived these were mainly owls, kookaburras
and goannas. These days domestic and feral cats unfortunately account
for very high numbers of these animals demise.If you do own a cat, please
ensure it is inside at night, and has a collar on with more than 3 bells.
If you were ever lucky enough to watch these animals in
their natural habitat watching them glide through the forest would be
something to remember. It sets off with its hind legs leaping from tree
to tree, spreading membranes, which extends on each side of the body
from the fifth finger to the first toe of the foot. It steers and maintains
stability by varying the curvature of the left or right membrane, volplaning
up to 50 meters. When it is about 3 meters from target tree it brings
its hind legs in towards the body and with an upward swoop lands with
four feet on the bark.
Many native animals drown in cattle water troughs including gliders. They will try to access the water but if they fall in they can not get back out..
A simple solution to this is to put in a stick or hang a rope from the edge of the trough so that any animal that fall in can climb back out.
The Australian Museum. 1996. "The Complete book of Australian Mammals."
Images by Katrina Ulyatt