Squirrel Glider - Reptile Encounters

Squirrel Glider

Scientific name:

Petaurus norfolcensis


Vulnerable (NSW), Threatened (VIC), Endangered (SA), Common (QLD)

Squirrel Gliders have a head and body length of about 20cm, with another 27cm added on for the soft and very bushy tail. They are mostly covered in greyish fur, with white on the belly and the end third of the tail is black. There is a dark stripe from between the eyes to the mid-back, similar to the more common Sugar Glider, making them easy to confuse. When put next to each other, though, it is far easier to tell them apart as Squirrel Gliders are almost twice the size of Sugar Gliders, and their facial markings are more distinct and the face appears to be slightly ‘pointier’.

Very similar diet to the Sugar Glider. Nectar and pollen is the most important food source, and when there is low availability they will rely on eucalypt sap and the gum produced by acacias and wattles. Protein is also important, and insects (especially beetles and caterpillars) are often taken, as are birds eggs and nestlings.

The Squirrel glider lives in the dry sclerophyll forest and woodlands of its range, often with a dense understory of plants that can be used for food. In Queensland, however, they occupy wetter eucalypt forests.

The Squirrel glider’s range extends from Bordertown near the South Australian/Victorian Border through inland south-eastern Australia along the Great Dividing Range to central Cape York in northern Queensland. This species was thought to have become extinct in South Australia in 1939, until genetic testing confirmed they were still present in the area.

These nocturnal marsupials are very much arboreal, spending almost their entire lives up in the trees. Being able to glide close to 100m means they can bridge the gap between trees with ease.
Sheltering in leaf-lined tree hollows during the day, the gliders emerge at night to forage. A family group will normally consist of an adult male, a few females and the offspring of that breeding season. Occasionally, one or more young males, less than two years old, may be associated with larger family groups, getting up to 10 animals. Males have a well developed scent gland in the middle of the head, giving them an almost ‘bald’ appearance in the breeding season and making it easy to tell the sexes apart.

Squirrel gliders don’t ‘yap’ the way Sugar gliders do to communicate with each other, but they do make low ‘gurgling’ noises.
Breeding occurs in June/July, with twins quite common.

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