Yellow-bellied glider

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Yellow-bellied glider[1]
Petaurus australis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Petauridae
Genus: Petaurus
Species: P. australis
Binomial name
Petaurus australis
Shaw, 1791
Yellow-bellied Glider.JPG
Distribution of the yellow-bellied glider

The yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis) is an arboreal[3] and nocturnal[4] gliding possum[5] that lives in a narrow range of native eucalypt forests[6] down eastern Australia, reaching from northern Queensland to Victoria.


The yellow-bellied glider inhabits forests and woodlands in eastern Australia and is found at a range of altitudes from sea level to 1400 metres[7] .[8]

In North Queensland, the sub-species occurs at altitudes over 700 m above sea level.[9] With natural discontinuities and habitat clearings, there are 13 different populations in three distinct places to find this glider in North Queensland. One population resides on Mount Windsor Tableland, another on Mount Carbine Tableland, and the third lives in a linear habitat going from Atherton to Kirrama on the Atherton Tableland. These three populations together are estimated to contain around 6000 individual gliders.[9] With their habitat in danger, the yellow-bellied glider is classified as uncommon to rare and is named vulnerable to the tropics. This species is more widespread in southern Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Appearance and behaviour[edit]

The yellow-bellied glider is a marsupial about the size of a rabbit. It typically has grey-brown fur on its back and has an off-white to orange or yellow belly. It has large pointed ears and a long tail that can grow to reach 48 cm in length.[9][10] Its body length is smaller reaching to about 30 cm long and the marsupial weighs a total of 700 g.[9] The males are usually bigger than the females.[6]

There are two subspecies:

  • P. a. australis in the south (which is locally common)
  • P. a. reginae in northern Queensland (which is rare and threatened with logging)

The yellow-bellied glider is the largest species of Petaurus, the wrist-winged gliders, a group of arboreal marsupials, and can glide up to 150 m.[11] The yellow-bellied glider has been observed to jump up to 100 m[12] or 114 m.[6]

It is similar in appearance to the mahogany glider, although slightly larger in size. It is also similar in appearance to the greater glider, a species that is more closely related to the lemur-like ringtail possum than to the other members of the Petaurus genus.[13]

The yellow-bellied glider is gregarious and spends the day in a leaf-lined tree hole, which is usually shared with other members of the same family. It is also one of the most vocal possum gliders. It has a distinctive growling call that it uses as means of communication.[14] It has been recorded to have been heard up to 500m away.[12]

A recording of the distinctive call can be heard at [1]


Breeding occurs in spring in the south, but throughout the year in the Queensland in the north. Sexual maturity for the glider is around two years of age when the glider will then[6] pair up with another glider, usually in a monogamous relationship and mate August to December.[6] The offspring are normally born between May and September. They then stay in the marsupium for about 100 days. The young are then left in the den for 2–3 months before they are weaned from the mother and go off on their own.[6][12] While in the dens both parents will care for the offspring.[6]

In North Queensland the dens are made in Eucalyptus grandis trees[12] and are lined with leaves. Their total life expectancy is about six years.[12]


The yellow-bellied glider's diet consists of nectar, honeydew, insects, pollen and a wide spread of tree sap including different Eucalyptus sap, Corymbia sap, some Angophora sap, and Lophostemon sap.[3] It obtains the tree sap by biting a 'V' shape wedge/notch into the bark to promote the flow of gum and sap.[14][15] It usually incises the bark on the trunks or upper branches of the trees.[6]


The two primary threats to the species are barbed-wire fences and logging, specifically felling of old nest trees.[16] It is currently listed as a species of "Least Concern" because it has a wide distribution, including several protected areas. While it is a rare species, there is a presumed large population which is unlikely to be decreasing at a rate that would threaten the species under the criteria for current categories.[2]


  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. pp. 54–55. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b Menkhorst, P., Winter, J., Elis, M., Denny, M., Burnett, S. & Lunney, D. (2008). Petaurus australis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Yellow-bellied glider - Petaurus australis facts". Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Gliding Possums – Environment, New South Wales Government
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Ross Secord. "ADW: Petaurus australis: INFORMATION". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Kavanagh, R.P.; Stanton, M.A. (1998). "Nocturnal forest birds and arboreal marsupials of the southwestern slopes, New South Wales". Australian Zoologist. 30: 449–466. doi:10.7882/az.1998.012. 
  8. ^ "Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in relation to the logging mosaic in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia". Biological Conservation. 71: 41–53. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(94)00019-M. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d
  10. ^ Cronin, Leonard and Westmacott, Marion (illustrator) (1991). Key Guide to Australian Mammals. Reed Books Pty. Ltd. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-7301-0355-2. 
  11. ^ Jones, Cath & Parish, Steve. Field Guide to Australian Mammals. Steve Parish Publishing Pty. Ltd. pp. 86, 88. ISBN 1-74021-743-8. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Fluffy Glider". Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  13. ^ Menkhorst, Peter & Knight, Frank (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-19-550870-X. 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ Strahan, Ronald (1995). A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Australia. The Australian Museum, New Holland (Publishers) Ltd. p. 58. ISBN 1-85368-583-6. 
  16. ^ Ryan, Michelle (General), and Burwell, Chris (Scientific) (eds.). Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland. Queensland Museum. p. 338. ISBN 0-7242-9349-3. 


  • Cronin, Leonard – "Key Guide to Australian Mammals", published by Reed Books Pty. Ltd., Sydney, 1991 ISBN 0-7301-0355-2
  • van der Beld, John – "Nature of Australia – A portrait of the island continent", co-published by William Collins Pty. Ltd. and ABC Enterprises for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, 1988 (revised edition 1992), ISBN 0-7333-0241-6
  • Russell, Rupert – "Spotlight on Possums", published by University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland, 1980, ISBN 0-7022-1478-7
  • Troughton, Ellis – "Furred Animals of Australia", published by Angus and Robertson (Publishers) Pty. Ltd, Sydney, in 1941 (revised edition 1973), ISBN 0-207-12256-3
  • Morcombe, Michael & Irene – "Mammals of Australia", published by Australian Universities Press Pty. Ltd, Sydney, 1974, ISBN 0-7249-0017-9
  • Ride, W. D. L. – "A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia", published by Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1970, ISBN 0 19 550252 3
  • Serventy, Vincent – "Wildlife of Australia", published by Thomas Nelson (Australia) Ltd., Melbourne, 1968 (revised edition 1977), ISBN 0-17-005168-4
  • Serventy, Vincent (editor) – "Australia's Wildlife Heritage", published by Paul Hamlyn Pty. Ltd., Sydney, 1975 of the marsupial family Petauridae.

External links[edit]