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Feathertail Glider Fact File

Appearance

The feathertail glider is a tiny animal with a body measuring just 6.5-8cm (2.75-3in) long and an average weight of 9-15g (0.3-0.5oz). They are the world's smallest gliding mammal.

Their namesake tail adds a further 7-8cm (2.75-3in) to this length. This tail features a center stem with stiff hairs pointing out from either side. The tail helps with steering and braking when they are gliding.

On top they are colored a grey-brown while on the underside they are cream or white.

Between the front and back legs they have folds of skin which stretch out when they glide.

Diet

Feathertail gliders are omnivores. They feed on pollen, seeds, honeydew, nectar, seeds and insects. Their tongue is long and brush like to help grab their food.

Pollen attaches to their fur while they are feeding on other items and they will consume this once they return to their nest.

Feathertail Glider

Scientific Name

Acrobates pygmaeus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

9-15g (0.3-0.5oz)

Length

6.5-8cm (2.75-3in))

Lifespan

8 years

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

Australia is the native home of the feathertail glider. Here they can be found along the east coast in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Habitat

They make their home in forests, rainforests, and woodlands. Near human settlements they may live in parks and gardens.

Where they live alongside humans they may make use of telephone boxes along with the roofs and walls of houses which provide warmth.

Feathertail Glider

Reproduction

Breeding takes place from late winter to summer in the south of their range. In the north they are able to breed year round. Females will breed with multiple males and each litter may have different fathers for the different individuals.

Females produce multiple litters of 3-4 young each breeding season. These are raised in a pouch on the underside of the mother.

Joeys will spend 9 weeks in the pouch.

A female is sexually mature by 8 months old while males do not mature till 12 months old.

Behavior

Feathertail gliders are best known for their ability to glide. They will jump off from a tree and stretch out their legs and arms which stretches the folds of skin turning them in to a parachute. These glides will allow them to travel up to 28m (91ft) though 14m (45.5ft) is the average.

By gliding they are able to avoid predators on the ground by remaining in the trees. They are almost entirely arboreal though they may forage on the ground occasionally.

These animals have special toe pads with serrated pads which help them to grip on to smooth surfaces such as leaves and even glass.

Feathertail gliders form groups of between 20 and 30 members which will feed and nest together.

When it is cold the group will huddle together for warmth. During periods of cold weather they may enter a torpor. This is a period of reduced activity which conserves their energy.

Their nest is a sphere of ferns, bark and leaves. It is called a drey.

They are primarily nocturnal and will emerge at night to feed.

Feathertail gliders are mostly silent but will hiss if threatened and they also make a ticking and popping sound.

Feathertail Glider

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the feather-tailed glider include birds such as kookaburras, owls and currawongs, bats, antechinus along with reptiles such as snakes.

Introduced predators such as the red fox and the domestic cat will also hunt them.

When threatened by a predator they may drop to the ground and freeze.

While their numbers are stable in some areas they face a localized threat from logging.

Quick facts

Their scientific name means pygmy acrobat.

Photo Gallery

Feathertail Glider
feathertail glider

Photo Credits

Top

By Tony 1212 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69258535

Middle One and Two

By Doug Beckers from Killcare Heights, Australia – Feathertail glider1, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11325069

Photo Gallery

By Queensland Government – [1], CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92712136

References

Slater, P. and Parish, S., 2016. First Field Guide To Australian Mammals. 1st ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

The Australian Museum. 2020. Feathertail Glider. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/feathertail-glider/> [Accessed 28 December 2020].

PerthZooWebsite. 2020. Feathertail Glider. [online] Available at: <https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/animal/feathertail-glider> [Accessed 28 December 2020].

Dickman, C., McKenzie, N. & Menkhorst, P. 2016. Acrobates pygmaeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40584A21963834. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T40584A21963834.en. Downloaded on 28 December 2020.

Australian Reptile Park. 2020. Feathertail Glider – Australian Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <https://www.reptilepark.com.au/feathertail-glider/> [Accessed 28 December 2020].

Wildlife.org.au. 2020. FEATHERTAIL GLIDER | Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland. [online] Available at: <https://wildlife.org.au/feathertail-glider/> [Accessed 28 December 2020]. \

Shiroff, A. 1999. "Acrobates pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 28, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Acrobates_pygmaeus/

Wiresnr.org. 2020. Feather Tail Gliders. [online] Available at: <http://www.wiresnr.org/feathertailfacts.html> [Accessed 28 December 2020].

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