The Sugar Glider is a small arboreal nocturnal marsupial mammal. It is an Australian possum that gets its name from the fact that it likes eating the sugary nectar of plants and glides from tree to tree. The sugar glider is very similar in appearance to a flying squirrel but it is in no way related.
The sugar glider has soft thick silver-grey fur on its upper body. The fur on the underside of its body is cream in colour. It is about 200-300mm long, including its tail. The male is larger than the female and weighs about 140 gms. The female weighs about 110gms. The sugar glider has large eyes that give it excellent night vision and allows it the avoid obstacles when gliding at night.
The sugar glider has a very thin skin, called a membrane, attached from each of its wrists to each ankle (like a flying squirrel). It spreads this membrane out and uses it like a paraglider. It adjusts the angle and curvature of the membrane using its limbs to guide it through flight. It can glide up to 90 meters from tree to tree. The sugar glider uses this mode of transportation to forage for food as well as to evade predators. It rarely come down to the ground.
Sugar gliders are very social and frequently nest together in groups of up to 6 animals, but they are solitary hunters. They are playful but will fiercely attack any intruder. They live for about 5 years.
Sugar Glider Habitat Where Does the Sugar Glider Live?
The sugar glider lives in northern, eastern and southern parts of Australia. It is also found on islands to the north of Australia such as New Guinea and part of Indonesia.
In Australia, these animals live in the canopies of forests with Eucalyptus and Acacia trees. Sugar Gliders make their nest out of leaves in a tree hollow. Between six to twelve gliders may share this nest. The availability of tree hollows for nesting is vital in determining the population of sugar gliders in a particular area.
Sugar Glider Diet What Do Sugar Gliders Eat?
Guided by its excellent eyesight, it forages for food in the night. The sugar glider is an omnivore with a varied diet depending on the availability of food. They consume up to 10% of their body weight each day. In summer when insects are plentiful they are primarily insectivores feeding on insects that come their way.
When insects aren't that plentiful they become insectivorous; feeding on honeydew, manna and tree sap which they extract by biting the smaller branches of gum trees.
Sugar Glider Reproduction Sugar Glider Babies
Sugar glider males reach sexual maturity at about 12 months and females between 8-15 months. Breeding usually takes place during winter and spring. Females give birth to two young about 16 days after conception. As with all marsupials these underdeveloped babies crawl from their mother's birth canal into her pouch and attach themselves to a nipple there. The young spend about 70 days in their mother's pouch before being left in the nest for another 50 or so days. The young will then join their mother to forage for food until they are fully independent by the time they reach about 7-10 months.
Sugar Glider Threats and Predators What Kills Sugar Gliders
Humans steal baby sugar gliders and raise them as pets or sell them on the illegal black-market.
Sugar Glider Conservation Status Are Sugar Gliders Endangered?
The Sugar Glider is not a threatened species. They are common throughout their habitat.
Sugar Gliders as Pets Can You Keep Sugar Gliders as Pets
Sugar gliders are popular as exotic pets. In some countries such as the US, they are bred in large numbers for the pet trade.
In Australia sugar gliders can be kept as pets in Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory. It is illegal in all others states of Australia. Sugar gliders can be kept in most states of the US except California, Alaska and Hawaii.
Other types of Gliders Other Types of Possums that Glide
There are a number of other gliding possums in Australia.
Squirrel Glider - Is about twice as large as the sugar glider and very similar in appearance, habit and behaviour.
Yellow-bellied Glider - Is about the size of a small rabbit and lives in eastern Australia. It can glide up to 150 meters.
Mahogany Glider - Is similar to the sugar glider and squirrel glider. It lives in a very small area of Queensland and is considered 'threatened'.