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All about gliders

July 13, 2021
Sugar Glider

The Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a species of small possum found in our area. It is closely related to the less common Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) that is found on the other side of the Strathbogie Ranges.

Both gliders have membranes of skin extending from the front to the hind legs. This membrane when stretched out enables the animal to glide long distances  (up to 50m). They do this to avoid predators and to move between food sources without having to be on the ground. They feed on insects, pollen, nectar and the sap from trees particularly wattles.

Squirrel Glider

The two species are difficult to tell apart. The Squirrel Glider is slightly larger with a longer, pointier face and a tail that is as wide as the body at the base. As they are active, nocturnal creatures these distinctions don’t help very much when trying to identify them in the field but watching them glide is truly a sight to behold.

The gliders have similar markings (see photos) and are ‘countershaded’ for camouflage. When an object is lit from above the upper surface appears lighter and the undersurface (in shadow) appears darker. This makes the object very obvious. Animals such as gliders are countershaded i.e. have distinctly lighter underparts to counteract this and afford a level of camouflage (Thayer’s Law).

Hang Glider

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This of course does not apply to Hang Gliders (pictured left) that are diurnal creatures, often seen flying above the hills on the Three Sisters property.

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