The greater gliders are three species of large gliding marsupials in the genus Petauroides, all of which are found in eastern Australia. Until 2020 they were considered to be one species, Petauroides volans. In 2020 morphological and genetic differences, obtained using diversity arrays technology, showed there were three species subsumed under this one name. The two new species were named Petauroides armillatus and Petauroides minor.Show More
These species are not closely related to the Petaurus group of gliding marsupials but instead to the lemur-like ringtail possum, Hemibelideus lemuroides, with which it shares the subfamily Hemibelideinae.
The greater gliders are nocturnal and are solitary herbivores feeding almost exclusively on Eucalyptus leaves and buds. Like their relative, the lemur-like ringtail, the southern greater glider is found in two forms: a sooty brown form and a grey-to-white form. The central greater glider is instead silvery brown, while the northern greater glider is brownish-gray.
The greater gliders are found in eucalypt forests from Mossman, Queensland, to Daylesford, Victoria.Show Less
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Gliding flight is heavier-than-air flight without the use of thrust and is employed by gliding animals. Birds in particular use gliding flight to m...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Generally solitary animals are those animals that spend their time separately but will gather at foraging areas or sleep in the same location or sh...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Greater gliders are small gliding marsupials. Females in this species are generally larger than males. The bodies of these gliders are covered with a soft shaggy coat of fur that increases their apparent size. Fur color varies within a single population and ranges from white to brown and charcoal. Their tail is long and bushy. Each side of the body bears membranes that stretch between the elbow and the ankle. That gives the animal the ability to perform controlled glides. The feet of these animals have strongly recurved claws which allow them to grip onto bark or other surfaces. They have five toes on each foot, the first toe is on the hind foot, and the first two toes on the forefoot are opposable.
Greater gliders are found in Australia. They occur in southern Queensland, eastern Australia, southeastern New South Wales, and the montane forests of the Victorian central highlands. They prefer specific species of eucalypt but also inhabit manna gum and mountain gum trees. Greater gliders occur in high basal areas of over-story. They need large patch sizes of old-growth forests. They are commonly found in places that contain many trees with hollows.
Greater gliders are primarily nocturnal. They spend the night foraging in the highest parts of the forest canopy. During the day, they spend most of their time denning in hollowed trees. Each animal inhabits up to twenty different dens within its home range. The dens are often lined with leaves and strips of bark. Within forests, males and females will have home territories and set borders between other members. Although home ranges may overlap, the animals remain generally solitary outside of the breeding season and only rarely interact. These animals regularly glide between high trees and are able to use their tails to assist in steering. They avoid traveling along the ground whenever possible and are slow and clumsy if forced to do so. Greater gliders do not make any loud sounds. They are thought to communicate through scent marking. Their cloacal glands give them a generally musty smell.
Greater gliders are herbivores (folivores). They feed primarily on eucalyptus leaves and rarely need to drink.
Greater gliders exhibit a polygynous mating system, however, some males are monogamous. They don't help in raising young. The breeding season is relatively brief. It lasts from February to May. Births occur between April and June. Only a single young is born each year. The underdeveloped baby will then spend the next 4 months within the pouch of the mother to suckle and develop, and will remain in the pouch until 9 months of age. After leaving the pouch, the mother may carry it about on her back until it is weaned at about 7 months of age. Greater gliders become reproductively mature between 18 months and 2 years after birth.
The main threats to Greater gliders are land clearing for agriculture, logging, bushfires fragmentation of their old-growth habitat. It is difficult for them to migrate through unfavorable habitats because they eat only the leaves of specific eucalyptus trees and they are also very clumsy on the ground. It's extremely difficult for them to cross open tree-less areas.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Greater gliders is 50,000-500,000 mature individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing and it is currently classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List.