Greater Glider Fact File

Petauroides volans








Wild - 15 years

Captive - 15 years




conservation status



Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's the Greater Glider!

The greater glider is the largest of the gliding marsupials found in Australia. They have a fold of skin connected at the knee and elbow which stretches out when they jump out allowing air currents to carry them large distances between two trees without going to ground where they are at greater risk of predation.

Much like Australia's iconic koala this species lives solely on a diet of eucalypt leaves.


What does a Greater Glider look like?

Greater gliders are covered by a thick coat of fur which can be coloured brown, grey or white. The fur is so thick that it increases their apparent size. On top of their head are a pair of large ears.

Each foot of the greater glider features a number of sharp claws which are used to hold on to trees as they climb them.

Extending between the forearm and the tibia of the back leg is a fold of skin. This membrane of skin is extended when this species is looking to move between trees. Their membrane runs from the elbow to the knee rather than the ankle to wrist as it is in most mammals. This gives them a triangular shape when they glide.

Their gliding membrane allows them to quickly move through the forest between trees by completing long jumps sailing on air currents.

The greater glider is the largest species of glider found in Australia. They can reach lengths between 35 and 46cm (13.8-18.1in) long with their weight varying between 900 and 1700g (31.7-60oz).

At the end of the body is a long tail measuring between 45 and 60cm (17.7-23.6in) long. This is not prehensile and is not used to help them as they move through the trees.


How does the Greater Glider survive in its habitat?

The greater glider has a fold of skin between its forearm and back leg which is used when they glide between trees. Their long tail is used while carrying out these glides and serves as a rudder allowing them to change direction.

They will also wrap their body in the gliding membrane on cold nights which serves as extra insulation to help keep them warm.

To allow for their diet they have an enlarged caecum which is the main portion of the digestive system where cellulose is broken down.


What does a Greater Glider eat?

The greater glider is a herbivore. Their primary food source is eucalypt leaves much like the koala. They favour the youngest, freshest leaves. A range of eucalypt species are consumed which helps to account for the seasonal variation in the nutrition of the leaves. This can be supplemented with buds and flowers.

Their diet provides much of their water needs and as such they do not often drink. They may also consume condensation on the leaves.

Each night these species move along the same routes to their feeding sites. They make use of their gliding routes to make their way between these sites.


Where do you the find the Greater Glider?

Australia is the native home of the greater glider. Here the species can be found along the east coast within the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.


Where can a Greater Glider survive?

The greater glider is a resident of eucalypt forests and woodlands. They require a number of large trees which contain large hollows where they can nest. A higher population of the species is found in areas with a larger number of tree hollows.

Individuals will make use of as many as 20 tree hollows at one time moving between them at regular intervals.

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How does a Greater Glider produce its young?

Breeding takes place between March and June. As a marsupial the female will give birth to a single young known as joey. This is underdeveloped and will climb from the birth canal in to a pouch on the underside of the females stomach. They will remain within the pouch for three to four months.

Once they leave the pouch they will cling to their mother's back and she will carry them as they move through the forest.

Males make no contribution to the care of the young but may remain in the den with the female which she raises the joey. He may father young with several females during the breeding season.

Young will leave their mother and become independent at 9 months old. Sexual maturity is achieved at two years old.


What does the Greater Glider do during its day?

This species is nocturnal emerging each night to feed.

Greater gliders are arboreal and it is rare for this species to come down from the trees. To move between trees they will make use of their gliding membrane to complete large leaps between the trees. These may carry them up to 100m (328ft). They make use of tree hollows where they can hide out during the day.

Each individual will have a home range which they live within. The range of males is, on average, larger than that of the females.

These animals are silent. They may produce a low hiss when threatened. A primary method of communication is scent marking.

Predators and Threats

What stops the Greater Glider from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the greater glider include dingoes, quolls, monitor lizards and predatory birds such as the powerful owl. Introduced species such as the red fox will also predate them.

Numbers of the greater glider are in decline with numbers being estimated at 50,000-500,000. One entire population in Royal National Park was lost due to a fire showing the vulnerability of their fragmented populations.

Humans influence their population through land clearing for agriculture or logging. Bushfires further impact their population. These effects have also fragmented the population making it difficult for them to recolonize areas where the population has become extinct.

Quick facts

The greater glider is the largest species of gliding mammal found in Australia.


Director, T. (2015) “Consultation Document on Listing Eligibility and Conservation Actions - Petauroides volans (greater glider) .” Canberra: Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division Department of the Environment.

“Conservation Advice for Petauroides volans (greater glider (southern and central)) ”(2022). Canberra: Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water .

Georges, A. (2019) “Nature Conservation (Greater Glider) Conservation Advice 2019.” Canberra: ACT Parliamentary Counsel.

Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J. 2020. Petauroides volans (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T40579A166500472. Accessed on 29 March 2023.

Environment (2020) Greater glider, Environment. Environment. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

Greater glider (no date) Australian Conservation Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

6 things you might not know about the greater glider (no date) WWF. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

Nagel, J. 2003. "Petauroides volans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 28, 2023 at

Greater Gliders - Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (2022) Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland - Your voice for your wildlife. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

Aussie animals facing extinction: Greater Glider (no date) Wilderness Society. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

Tourists rescue greater glider Joey after epic fall (no date) Tourists Rescue Greater Glider Joey After Epic Fall | Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Available at: (Accessed: March 29, 2023).

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