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Squirrel Glider Fact File

Appearance

The squirrel glider has blue-grey or brown-grey fur along its back with white or cream fur on its underside. A dark stripe runs from the centre of the head down to the middle of the back. They have a pink nose and relatively large ears.


At the end of their body is a long tail which measures 22-30cm (8.75-12in) long. This is longer than their body. Unlike the sugar glider which has a similar appearance they never have a white tip on their tail. It is grey along its length with a darker tip.


A membrane of skin sits between the front and back legs which allows them to complete their namesake glides.


Males are larger than the females. They will measure between 18 and 23cm (7-9in) long and weigh 190-300g (7-11oz).

Diet


Squirrel gliders are omnivores. Their diet is made up of wattle gum and seeds, eucalyptus sap, nectar, pollen and insects. Records exist of them eating small birds and eggs.

This diet is seasonably variable.

squirrel glider

Scientific Name

Petaurus norfolcensis

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

190-300g (7-11oz)

Length

23cm (7-9in)

Lifespan

4 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Range

Australia is the native home of the squirrel glider. Here they live in the east of the country through Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.


They may still be present in South Australia though the last record of the species there is from Bordertown in 1990.

Habitat

They make their home in forests, woodlands and rainforests. In parts of their range they have adapted to live in urban areas.

squirrel glider

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Reproduction

Breeding takes place starting in August.


As a marsupial the female will give birth to two underdeveloped young who work their way in to her pouch. Here they remain for 70 days suckling milk from one of the four teats.


At the end of this 70 day period the female places them in a nest. This nest is a tree hollow which is lined with leaves. They will begin to forage with the adult and by four months old are ready to leave the nest.


Females may produce two litters in the same year.


Sexual maturity is reached at 1 year old.

Behavior

Squirrel gliders live in groups with a dominant male, two females and their young.


When threatened the squirrel glider will let out a loud yip.


Their name comes from the ability to glide from one tree to another. They will jump from up in a tree and stretch out the gliding membrane between their front and back legs. By changing the curvature of this membrane they can change the direction in which they travel. Their glide may cover up to 100m (328ft).


Squirrel gliders are nocturnal and will emerge at night to feed. During the day they will rest in a tree hollow. During colder weather they place more leaves in their hollow to help insulate them.

squirrel glider

Predators and Threats

Natural predators include owls such as the barking and powerful owl and lace monitors. Introduced predators including the red fox and domestic cat will prey on squirrel gliders.


Humans present a range of threats including habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, loss of tree hollows removing their nest sites and entanglement in barbed wire.

Quick facts

Their scientific name means Norfolk Island rope dancer but they are not found on Norfolk Island which lies off the coast of Australia.

squirrel glider

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Photo Credits

Top

Public Domain


Middle

Under License


Bottom Two

By Brisbane City Council, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23613882

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Slater, P. and Parish, S., 2016. First Field Guide To Australian Mammals. Glebe: Pascal Press.


Environment.nsw.gov.au. 2020. Squirrel Glider – Profile | NSW Environment, Energy And Science. [online] Available at: <https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10604> [Accessed 5 November 2020].


Burrell, S., 2020. Squirrel Glider. [online] The Australian Museum. Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/squirrel-glider/> [Accessed 5 November 2020].


SWIFFT. 2020. Squirrel Glider. [online] Available at: <https://www.swifft.net.au/cb_pages/sp_squirrel_glider.php> [Accessed 5 November 2020].


Wildlife.org.au. 2020. SQUIRREL GLIDER | Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland. [online] Available at: <https://wildlife.org.au/squirrel-glider/> [Accessed 5 November 2020].


Museums Victoria. 2020. Squirrel Glider. [online] Available at: <https://museumsvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/resources/wild/dry-forest/squirrel-glider/> [Accessed 5 November 2020].


Winter, J., Lunney, D., Denny, M., Burnett, S. & Menkhorst, P. 2016. Petaurus norfolcensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16728A21959402. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T16728A21959402.en. Downloaded on 05 November 2020.

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