Sugar glider

(Petaurus breviceps)

Range and habitat
The sugar glider originates from the tropical rainforests in New Guinea and northeast Australia. It is also found in Tasmania but is not indigenous. The sugar glider was probably brought here by man. The animals live high up in the trees and build their nests in Eucalyptus trees.

Appearance
The sugar glider is not a squirrel but a marsupial. Female sugar gliders have a small pouch in their bellies in which they carry their young. The sugar glider has blue-grey fur with a dark stripe on its back. This stripe runs all the way from the snout to the tip of the tail. The animals also have dark markings on the sides of their heads. The fur on the stomach is lighter in colour. Furthermore, the animals have large black eyes and a long tail.

Sugar gliders have two folds of skin between their front and back legs. When they jump, they extend their limbs and the folds of skin act like ‘wings.’ However, a sugar glider does not ‘fly,’ it hovers. Thanks to its skin folds, it can hover up to 50 metres from one tree to another.
Did you know?
  • Sugar gliders can hover for up to 50 meters in the air.
  • Height Head and body 12-32 cm, tail 15-48 cm
  • Weight 110 grams
  • Lifespan 14 years on average
  • Range New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Australia and Tasmania
  • Habitat Tropical rainforests
Reproduction
Female sugar gliders reach their fertile age towards the end of their first year. Males take a little longer and reach fertility at the beginning of their second year. Females have two uteruses and two vaginas. To be able to fertilise the females in both vaginas, male sugar gliders have a split penis tip. After a gestation period of around 16 days, one or two young are born. Young sugar gliders weigh around just 0.20 grams at birth and remain in their mother’s pouch until they are 70 days old. After about 110 days the animals leave the nest. Shortly afterwards they become independent.
Diet
The sugar glider is an omnivore. In spring and summer, it eats mainly insects, larvae, moths and beetles. In the winter months, its diet is largely plant-based, feeding on pollen and sap from trees. Sugar gliders are particularly fond of sap from the Eucalyptus tree. They also eat nectar, spiders and small vertebrates.
Behaviour and habits
Sugar gliders are nocturnal and become active only at night. They are very social and live in groups of about seven animals that are all related to each other. Each group has its own territory. The adult males mark the territory with saliva and scent using their anal glands and the glands on their legs. Male sugar gliders also have scent glands on their forehead and chest, with which they provide other group members with their own scent. As soon as sugar gliders with a different scent come near, they are chased away. Sugar gliders use different sounds to communicate with each other. They can also ‘bark,’ making a sound similar to a dog’s bark.