Lesser flying phalanger, Lesser flying squirrel, Lesser glider, Short-headed flying phalanger
The Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small arboreal gliding possum that belongs to the marsupial infraclass. It is so called due to loving sweet food such as sugar and honey, while the word 'glider' refers to their gliding habit when moving between trees. Sugar gliders have very similar habits and appearance to the flying squirrel, despite not being closely related - an example of convergent evolution. The scientific name of these animals translates from Latin as "short-headed rope-dancer", a reference to their canopy acrobatics.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
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...
Torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, usually marked by a reduced body temperature and metabolic rate. Torpor enables...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Colonial animals live in large aggregations composed of two or more conspecific individuals in close association with or connected to, one another....
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.
The Sugar glider has a squirrel-like body with a long, partially (weakly) prehensile tail. The fur coat is thick, soft, and is usually blue-grey; although some have been known to be yellow, tan, or (rarely) albino. A black stripe is seen from its nose to midway on its back. Its belly, throat, and chest are cream in color. Males have four scent glands, located on the forehead, chest, and two paracloacal that are used for marking group members and territory. Scent glands on the head and chest of males appear as bald spots. Females also have a paracloacal scent gland and a scent gland in the pouch but do not have scent glands on the chest or forehead. The males of this species are typically larger than the females.
Sugar gliders occur in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and surrounding islands as well as in northern and eastern parts of mainland Australia. They are able to live in a wide variety of habitats such as plantations, rural gardens, roadside areas as well as rainforest, eucalypt forest, and woodland.
These nocturnal animals spend their daytime hours in hollows, which are lined with leaves. They transfer materials to these nests, coiled in their tails. They are highly social and active animals, forming groups, which typically consist of 7 or more adult individuals and their offspring. In order to keep warm and conserve heat in cold weather, these animals may huddle together or, occasionally, enter short periods of torpor. Group members do not fight each other, but are known to display threatening behavior. Each group of Sugar gliders has a dominant male, which is the leader of the group. In order to identify members of the group, he uses a communication system of scent-marking. The dominant male also scent-marks and fiercely defends the territory against intruders. Individuals within the group recognize each other by group scent. Outsiders, which do not belong to the group, are identified due to not sharing the group scent. If such cases do occur, intruders are usually violently attacked by the group members.
These omnivorous animals particularly favor the sweet sap of the eucalyptus tree, supplementing their diet with pollen, nectar, insects, and their larvae, arachnids as well as small vertebrates.
Sugar gliders are generally considered to be polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. Populations in the northern parts of their range breed year-round. In the south, sugar gliders breed with a peak period, occurring from June to November, when insects, upon which they feed, are most abundant. The gestation period lasts for 16 days, yielding 1-2 babies. Immediately after birth, the offspring of these marsupials climb into the pouch of their mother, where they continue to grow for around 40 days. They begin coming out of the pouch at 60-70 days. At 111 days old, young leave the nest, after which they usually ride the back of their mother, accompanying her when she forages. And finally, when the young reach independence at 7-10 months old, the female leaves them to give birth to another litter. Males of this species are reproductively mature by 1 year old, whereas females are able to produce offspring at 8-15 months old.
Although there are no notable threats to the population of Sugar gliders, the animals are potentially threatened by bushfires as well as habitat destruction as a result of land clearing for agriculture.
According to IUCN, the Sugar glider is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Numbers of their population are stable, and the species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.