The sugar glider measures 36cm (14.1in) for its full body length. 17cm (6.7in) of this is made up of the tail. Males are slightly larger than the females; they weigh 140g (4.9oz) on average while females are generally 115g (4oz).
The most prolific sugar gliders are the blue-grey ones. In some rare cases yellow, tan and albino morphs can occur. The belly, throat and chest are coloured cream. From the nose to halfway along the back is a black stripe. On the male this parts on the forehead and a patch of exposed skin is visible. This is the scent gland.
Between the fifth toe and the first finger these gliders have a membrane or patagium. This membrane is what the gliders use to fly through the air.
The sugar glider is an omnivore. Throughout summer these animals will eat mostly insects as these are plentiful. Over winter they switch to a diet of the plentiful acacia trees. These gliders also take lizards, small birds, nectar, bird eggs, pollen and native fruits when they are available.
Sugar gliders can be found in Australia, Papua New Guinea and some islands off the coast of these areas. In Australia they are found in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The sugar glider has also been introduced into Tasmania.
The sugar glider prefers a habitat of open woodlands. They are also found in rainforest and eucalypt forest. They need an area where there are many tree hollows which they line with tree leaves.
Wild 9 years
Captive 12 years
Record 17 years
Sugar gliders can breed at any time of the year. Depending on conditions they may breed up to twice a year in the wild.
The gestation period lasts 15 to 17 days after which twins will usually be born though there is a chance of a single young. They are born hairless and blind and spend the beginning of their life by climbing into the mothers pouch. The mother can become pregnant again while the joey is in the pouch. She will hold this joey till the other one leaves the pouch.
The joey spends its first 60 to 70 days attached to the teat in the pouch. It will fall out of the pouch at some point still hairless and blind. After another 12 days the eyes are opened and the joey will have grown fur.
After 2 months the joey will be weaned and it becomes self-sufficient at 4 months of age. Males achieve sexual maturity between 4 and 12 months. Females come of age slightly later between 8 and 12 months.
Sugar gliders are best known for their gliding or volplaning. They use this mainly to move from tree to tree. They have the ability to travel 100 metres using this method.
The sugar glider is a social species. Their group size has been known to reach 10.
They are threatened mainly by native owls. Some kookaburras, quolls, goannas and snakes also pose a threat. The introduced feral cat and fox will prey on the sugar glider.
Sugar gliders are commonly kept worldwide as pets
Learn more about sugar gliders in this video from Wilbur’s Wildlife
Jonathan Hornung ( Sugarglider hp [ CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Jonathan Hornung ( Sugies03 hp [ CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Salas, L., Dickman, C., Helgen, K., Winter, J., Ellis, M., Denny, M., Woinarski, J., Lunney, D., Oakwood, M., Menkhorst, P. & Strahan, R. 2016. Petaurus breviceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16731A21959798. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T16731A21959798.en. Downloaded on 24 May 2020.
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