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sugar glider, lesser gliding opossum, sugar squirrel
(springboard used by acrobats)
The sugar glider has soft, thick, mink-like, gray fur that covers its body and tail. A black stripe runs the full length of the body in line with the spine and crown of the head. The tip of the tail is black.
The head and body measure 125-150 cm (5-6 in.)
114-171 grams (4-6 oz.)
Primarily feeds on fruits and vegetables; occasionally eats insects, mice, nuts, and other small mammals
Gestation lasts approximately 16 days gestation, then they crawl into the pouch for another 10 weeks
Weaned at 16 weeks
About 9-10 months
4-6 years in wild
Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and neighboring islands of Indonesia
Arboreal species, inhabits forests
These marsupials are able to glide up to 45 meters (148.5 ft.) and have been observed to leap at and catch moths in flight.
Sugar gliders live in large colonies of 20-40 individuals with two alpha males fathering the majority of offspring.
Young gliders usually leave around 10 months to start their own colonies.
Sugar gliders get their name because of the specialized flap connecting the front leg to the hind leg, giving them the ability to glide.
When angry, gliders lean back and make a chattering noise that resembles a small, yapping dog. If this warning doesn't work, they strike with full force.
Sugar gliders have opposable thumbs and four fingers on both hands and feet. Each finger has a sharp toe that can hook like Velcro to most non-slick surfaces.
Males have a bald spot on their head, which is actually a scent gland.
Females have a pouch on their belly in which they raise their young for 10 weeks after birth.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Sugar glider populations are fairly stable and often thrive in the strips and patches of forest left on cleared agricultural land, unlike some of their opossum cousins. Retention of interconnected systems of suitable forest and woodland habitat are essential for its conservation in these agricultural areas. Their gliding locomotion is an efficient way of exploiting hard to reach patchy food sources other animals may have difficulty finding.
Due to its relatively small size, especially in its first 12 months of life, sugar gliders are a prey animal for owls, kookaburras, goannas, and cats.
Nowak, R. 1991.
Walker's Mammals of the World
. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, Maryland. Vol.2. Fifth Edition.
Strahan, R. 1983.
The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals
. Angus and Robertson, London. 1983.