Wild – 6 years
Captive – 10 years
This might go over your head!
The yellow-bellied glider is the second largest species of gliding marsupial found in Australia. These animals move between the trees in which they live by jumping and gliding using a specialized membrane located between their wrist and ankle.
Found in Australia this species has a wide range along the east coast of the continent but it is under threat due to a range of factors.
What does a Yellow-Bellied Glider look like?
The yellow-bellied glider has black or grey fur on its back with the namesake yellow fur on the underside. A pair of pointed ears sit on top of the head which are the only part of the body not covered by the thick fur. A dark stripe of fur is present down the centre of the back. Their small nose is coloured pink.
At the end of the body is a long, bushy tail which is coloured black or grey. This is roughly 1.5 times the length of their body at 45cm (17.7in) long.
Their gliding membrane is fixed at the wrists and ankles.
An average yellow bellied glider will weigh between 430 and 530g (15-19oz) and measure roughly 30cm (11.8in) long. Males tend to be larger than females.
How does the Yellow-Bellied Glider survive in its habitat?
The tail of the yellow-bellied glider is considered prehensile and allows them to support their body weight allowing them to access more areas.
What does a Yellow-Bellied Glider eat?
Yellow-bellied gliders are omnivores. They will feed on sap from eucalypt trees, pollen, nectar and some insects.
To access sap they will chew a V-shaped notch in to a tree trunk. They will only perform this behaviour on a limited number of trees within their range.
Where do you the find the Yellow-Bellied Glider?
Australia is the native home of the yellow-bellied glider. Here they live along the east coast through the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria across to the South Australian border area.
Where can a Yellow-Bellied Glider survive?
The yellow-bellied glider is found in tall, open forest. They are reliant on large trees which have available hollows in which they can nest. A family may have several hollows across their range which they can occupy.
How does a Yellow-Bellied Glider produce its young?
Breeding season is variable across their range. In the North breeding will take place from May through September and in the south it occurs during August and September.
The pouch of the female is divided to form two compartments. Typically a single young is born each breeding season. This joey will spend the first 100 years of life developing in the pouch. Females will then leave the young in their nest for a further 60 days as they move through their habitat.
Young will go off on their own between 18 and 24 months old. Sexual maturity is achieved at two years old.
An average individual will live for up to 10 years but one individual reached 14 years old.
What does the Yellow-Bellied Glider do during its day?
Small groups of yellow-bellied gliders are found in a tree hollow. Groups have been recorded with up to six members. Each individual within the group is scent marked by a dominant male who controls the group.
This species is highly vocal helping them to advertise their location and the extent of their territory. Their call has been described as a high-pitched shriek.
These animals are arboreal. They spend much of their time climbing in the trees.
To move between trees they are able to glide. When looking to jump from tree to tree they will launch off and spread the gliding membrane allowing them to travel long distances. Glide lengths of as much as 114m (374ft) long have been recorded.
Individuals will use their incisor teeth to comb their fur and clean it. Social grooming between group members has also been observed.
Yellow-bellied gliders are considered nocturnal. They will emerge at night to seek out food.
Predators and Threats
What stops the Yellow-Bellied Glider from surviving and thriving?
Introduced species such as foxes and cats will predate this species.
No reliable estimate of the yellow-bellied glider population has been established. They are thought to be uncommon with a population which continues to decline. A number of subpopulations have become extinct.
A key factor in their decline has been habitat loss and fragmentation primarily through logging and an increase in fires. Their reliance on tree hollows means the species requires old growth trees which have had time to develop the hollows.
Yellow-bellied gliders were first described for modern science during 1791. They were the first species of gliding marsupial to be described in Australia.
They may also be known as the fluffy glider or dusky glider.
Carroll, L. (2005) “Husbandry Manual for the Yellow-Bellied Glider Petaurus australis.” Richmond: Husbandry Manual for the Yellow-Bellied Glider Petaurus australis.
Department of Environment and Climate Change Staff, “Yellow-Bellied Glider Feed Trees” (2007). Sydney: Department of Environment and Climate Change.
Smith, Andrew & Russell, R.. (1982). Diet of the Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis (Marsupialia: Petauridae) in north Queensland.. Australian Mammalogy. 5. 41-45. 10.1071/AM82004.
Goldingay, R. and Kavanagh, R. (1991) “The Yellow-bellied Glider: a review of its ecology, and management considerations .” Sydney: RZNSW.
Woinarski, J., Burbidge, A.A. & Johnson, C.N. 2016. Petaurus australis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16730A21959641. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T16730A21959641.en. Accessed on 16 April 2023.
NSW Environment, Energy and Science (2022) Yellow-bellied Glider – profile | NSW Environment, Energy and Science. NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10601 (Accessed: April 16, 2023).
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