Petaurus brevicepsSugar Glider

Family

  • Petauridae

Lifespan

  • Wild
    • 4-6 years
  • Captive
    • up to 14 years with proper care

Size

  • Length
    • 31-42 centimeters
  • Weight 
    • 70-170 grams

Range

  • Northern and Eastern Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and surrounding islands 

Habitat

  • Temperate to tropical forest living in the canopy of trees

Diet

  • Wild
    • Nectar, sweet fruits, eucalyptus leaves, and small invertebrates
  • Zoo
    • Sweet produce (such as grapes and watermelon), waxworms and crickets, and a special concoction we call a "sugar glider cube"

ReproductionSugar Glider

  • Sugar gliders are marsupials, a primitive mammal.  Female marsupials posses a pouch, called a marsupium, which is used as a shelter for the young during development.  Gestation is very short (as is common in marsupials) - around 16 days, after which the female will typically give birth to 2 young (called joeys).  Young are born blind, bald, and nearly helpless.  They slowly climb their way through their mother's fur to the pouch where they will suckle and grow. Female marsupials do not have nipples, but secrete their milk through a gland onto the fur, which the young lap up.  Young will emerge from the pouch after 2 1/2 months and stay in the nest around 111 days.  Mothers may carry young on their backs when foraging for several months.  Breeding usually occurs between June and November so that young are born and raised in the spring and summer.

Special Adaptations

  • Sugar Gliders have a flap of skin called a 'patagium' stretching from their wrists to their ankle.  Gliders will leap from tall objects, stretch out their limbs and glide long distances (up to 50 meters) using the patagium.
  • Sugar gliders have an opposable digit on their foot, the hallux, which is analogous to our big toe.
  • Sugar glider tails, which can be as long as their body, are prehensile and can be used as a rudder while gliding, as an additional limb when climbing, or to grasp objects.
  • Sugar gliders have huge eyes - a perfect adaptation for nocturnal hunting.
  • Sugar gliders have large, extremely sharp claws which aid them in climbing.

Facts/Info

  • Although sugar gliders resemble flying squirrels, the two species are not closely related
  • A sugar glider is a type of possum
  • Sugar gliders are social amongst family members, often living in large family units in the wild
  • Males have scent glands located cranially on their head (at the top of their forehead going back onto their head) and on their stomach, which they use to mark their territory and their family members - our male will rub his head on his keepers, claiming them as his
  • When agitated, sugar gliders will emit a shrill chirping sequence that can last for several seconds
Sugar Glider

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • Although the sugar glider is not listed as being threatened under IUCN or CITES, the Australian government strictly prohibits trade in their wildlife.

Sources

  1. IUCN Red List. November, 2011 http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/16731/0

  2. Feldhamer, George A. et al., Mammalogy: Adaptation, diversity, and ecology. 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

  3. Burnie, David and Don E. Wilson, ed. Smithsonian Institute Animal. New York: DK. 2001

  4. CITES Appendices. November, 2011 http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php