Squirrel Glider

Petaurus norfolcensis

Petaurus norfolcensis

The squirrel glider is endemic to Australia, being found along the eastern parts with some isolated pockets in eastern South Australia.  It is about twice the size of the related sugar glider.  Its body is 18–23cm long and its tail measures at 22–33cm long.  Weight is about 230g or 0.5lbs.  It has blue-grey or brown-grey fur on its back and a white belly.  The end of its tail is black and it has a black stripe from its eyes to the mid-back.

Breeding

Nests are bowl-shaped, lined with leaves and found in tree hollows.  The breeding season is between June and January.  The gestation/pregnancy of a female is 18 days.  The litter sizes are usually 1 - 2 offspring a year.  The offspring will immediately crawl to the mother's pouch and anchor itself to a teat where it will stay for about 3 months.  The mother will wean off her offspring around 4 months while they stay in the den.  The offspring become independent at 10 months and go off on their own.  Some females may stay with the group, but usually males will leave.  The life expectancy is 4–6 years.

Behaviour

Squirrel gliders prefer wet and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, their most common habitat being where one or more species of iron-barked eucalypts grow.  They have a flying membrane that extends from their 5th front toe to the back of their foot on both sides.  When they glide, their tail can act as a rudder, allowing them to steer in which direction they want to go, and is also used to curl around branches to hold on.  They can glide up to 50m from tree to tree, but tend not to glide in captivity.  Squirrel gliders take shelter in tree hollows during the day and will come out only at night.

Diet

Squirrel gliders are omnivores.  They eat insects, mainly caterpillars, beetles and stick insects, feeds on tree sap, mainly eucalyptus or red bloodwood trees, pollen, nectar, leaves, and bark.  In order to get the sap, the squirrel glider will pierce the trunk of the tree causing sap to flow out of it.

Status

Squirrel Gliders are listed as:  vulnerable in NSW, threatened in Victoria, endangered in South Australia and common in Queensland.