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Note: I am doing a research project, and I made this for easier notetaking.

Sugar Glider[edit]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sugar Glider[1]
Sugarglider hp.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Petauridae
Genus: Petaurus
Species: P. breviceps
Binomial name
Petaurus breviceps
Petaurus breviceps distribution.png
Sugar Glider natural range:
Red: P. b. breviceps
Blue: P. b. longicaudatus
Darkgreen: P. b. ariel
Yellow: P. b. flavidus
Violet: P. b. papuanus
Lightgreen: P. b. tafa
Black: P. b. biacensis

The Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps), sometimes called the Flying Sugar, is a small gliding possum native to eastern and northern mainland Australia, New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago, and introduced to Tasmania.

Physical description[edit]

The Sugar Glider is around 16 to 20 cm (6.3 to 7.5 inches) in length, with a tail almost as long as the body and almost as thick as a human thumb, and weighs between 90 and 150 grams (3 to 5.3 oz). The fur is generally pearl grey, with black and cream patches at the base of the black or grey ears. Other colour variations include leucistic and albino recessive traits. The tail tapers only moderately and the last quarter of it is black, often with a dark tip. The muzzle is short and rounded. Northern forms tend to be brown coloured rather than grey and, as predicted by Bergmann's Rule, smaller.

The most noticeable features of its anatomy, however, are the twin skin membranes called patagium which extend from the fifth finger of the forelimb back to the first toe of the hind foot. These are inconspicuous when the Sugar Glider is at rest — it merely looks a little flabby, as though it had lost a lot of weight recently — but immediately obvious when it takes flight. The membranes are used to glide between trees: when fully extended they form an aerodynamic surface the size of a large handkerchief.

The gliding membranes are primarily used as an efficient way to get to food resources. They may also, as a secondary function, help the Sugar Glider escape predators like goannas, introduced foxes and cats, and the marsupial carnivores, such as quolls, the Kowari, mulgaras, and antechinuses that foxes, cats, and dingos largely supplanted. The ability to glide from tree to tree is clearly of little value with regard to the Sugar Glider's avian predators, however, in particular owls and kookaburras.

Although its aerial adaptation looks rather clumsy in comparison to the highly specialised limbs of birds and bats, the Sugar Glider can glide for a surprisingly long distance — flights have been measured at over 50 metres (55 yd) — and steer effectively by curving one or other of the patagium. It uses its hind legs to thrust powerfully away from a tree, and when about 3 metres (3 yd) from the destination tree trunk, brings its hind legs up close to the body and swoops upwards to make contact with all four limbs together.

Taxonomy[edit]

There are seven subspecies of P. breviceps:

Habitat[edit]

Sugies03 hp.jpg

The Sugar Glider can occupy any area where there are tree hollows for shelter and sufficient food. Its diet varies considerably with both geography and the changing seasons, but the main items are the sap of acacias and certain Eucalyptus, nectar, pollen, and arthropods. It is difficult to see in the wild, being small, wary, and nocturnal, but a sure sign of its presence is the stripping of bark and tooth marks left in the soft, green shoots of acacia trees.

In suitable habitats it is common, often reaching densities of 1 per 1,000 square metres provided that there are tree hollows available for shelter. It lives in groups of up to seven adults, plus the current season's young, all sharing a nest and defending their territory. Adult males mark the territory with saliva and with scent glands, and also mark members of the group with the scent produced by separate glands on the forehead and chest. Visitors which lack the appropriate scent marking are expelled violently. The dominant male mates more frequently with the female of the group than the other males, and does most of the scent marking. When an adult member of the group dies, it is normally replaced: by one of the group's own offspring if female, but by an outsider if male.

In the more temperate south, breeding starts in mid-winter (June or July). In the north, there seems to be no particular breeding season. Two young per female is typical; they remain in the pouch for about 70 days, and after leaving it stay inside the nest for another 40 or 50 days, then begin to forage outside, usually under the care of the mother. The young are normally ejected from the group territory at 7 to 10 months of age. Sometimes they form new groups if an area is vacant, but competition for territory is fierce and not many survive the first months of independent life. In captivity, they may live up to fifteen years.

Conservation status[edit]

Unlike many native animals, particularly smaller ones, the Sugar Glider is not endangered.[2] Despite the massive loss of natural habitat in Australia over the last 200 years, it is adaptable and capable of living in surprisingly small patches of remnant bush, particularly if it does not have to cross large expanses of clear-felled land to reach them. Several close relatives, however, are endangered, particularly Leadbeater's Possum and the Mahogany Glider (which, to the non-expert, looks almost exactly like a Sugar Glider).

The Sugar Glider is protected by law in Australia, where it is illegal to keep them as pets, or to capture or sell them without a license (which is usually only issued for research).

Sugar Gliders as pets[edit]

Petaurus breviceps 1.jpg

Where legal, the Sugar Glider is not difficult to breed in captivity under the right conditions, and small numbers have been legally and illegally exported to America where they have formed a breeding population for sale as pets. Breeding mills are a controversial subject. In the United States, keeping sugar gliders as pets is illegal in some jurisdictions, including California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Alaska; many other states require a permit.

The Sugar Glider is a popular pet because of its lively and inquisitive nature; with plenty of attention, it bonds well to human companions. It requires a special diet that includes vitamins, protein, calcium supplements, and insects.

Behavior[edit]

Sugar Gliders bred and kept in captivity behave differently to those in the wild. Because they are very social creatures, often living in families in the wild, it is difficult to raise a single Sugar Glider in captivity, especially as it is rare for a Sugar Glider owner to be up late at night, when Sugar Gliders are most active, to play with it. When multiple Sugar gliders are kept together, social behavior is closer to that of wild Sugar Gliders.

Artificial environments[edit]

To further simulate natural surroundings an environment may have branches or vines. With that it is important to note that certain plants are poisonous to Sugar Gliders, but there are plants that are safe to have in a sugar glider environment.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Gliders - Monash University

External links[edit]

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