Gliding and Striped Possums: Petauridae
Sugar Glider (petaurus Breviceps): Species Account
Physical characteristics: Sugar gliders are part of the gliding group (Petaurinae) of this family. They have a membrane that extends from the fifth toe of their back legs to the first finger on their front legs. They spread their arms and legs to make a sail out of the membrane when leaping between branches. Sugar gliders are fairly small measuring between 12 and 15 inches (32 to 42 centimeters) long and weighing between 3.5 to 5.5 ounces (95 to 160 grams). They have two black stripes along the sides of the face, and one black stripe that runs along their back. The rest of their fur is blue-gray, except for on the belly, which has lighter fur.
Geographic range: Sugar gliders live in New Guinea, Tasmania, and in the northern and eastern parts of Australia.
Habitat: Sugar gliders are frequently found living in acacia and eucalyptus trees.
Diet: The sugar glider is an omnivore. It eats tree sap, pollen, insect larvae, and insect-like animals such as spiders.
Behavior and reproduction: Sugar gliders are nocturnal. Using strong legs to launch themselves, they are able to glide up to 230 feet (70 meters). Sugar gliders, like many gliding possums, are social and they live in family groups that are territorial.
Sugar gliders give birth to one or two offspring twice a year. Their pregnancy lasts sixteen days. Pouch stay for the young is about two months, with another two months are spent in the nest. Their lifespan is about fourteen years.
Sugar gliders and people: Despite controversy, sugar gliders are becoming popular as household pets, both in Asia and the United States.
Conservation status: This species is not threatened. There is no serious danger that they will become extinct in the foreseeable future. ∎
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Steiner, Barbara A. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Triggs, Barbara. Tracks, Scats and Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Robinson, Hannah. Australia: An Ecotraveler's Guide. New York: Interlink Books, 2003.
Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. "Gliding Possums." http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Gliding+possums (accessed on June 30, 2004).
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