Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - sugar glider

Back at Shoalhaven Zoo, and another cute critter we met was the Sugar Glider.

These guys are tiny - the top photo is an adult Sugar Glider in the hands of the adult zoo keeper (yes, he of the snake kissing!). The bottom photo has a 4 year old's hand patting the same Glider. So they're little.

And soft.

Koalas have soft fur, so do possums, but the Sugar Glider's was so soft it was almost like you weren't touching anything. Like when you wipe your finger through Fairy Floss (Candy Floss/Cotton Candy for any Americans; hope I have that name right for spun sugar).

And the tail was all fluff and no substance. You could hardly feel anything there. It was an odd experience.

If you want some information on Gliders, you can find some here on the NSW Government website.

Sugar Gliders have a membrane along either side of their body, from the fifth finger to the first toe. This membrane allows them to leap from a branch and glide across a distance of up to 50m to another branch.

They require tree hollows for shelter. Their diet consists of gum/sap from wattles and some eucalypts, invertebrates and exudates from invertebrates. They live in social groups of up to 7 adults and their young, and share a common nest. When the young are 7-10 months old, they go off on their own to start a new social group with other 'booted' youngsters. Owls, kookaburras, goannas and cats often make meals from these youngsters on the move (ref: The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals).

We have lots of trees around my place and I'd like to imagine families of Sugar Gliders around here - but they're so tiny (and generally nocturnal) that I don't think I have a hope of seeing one, except at the zoo!

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