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Sea Life, Animals
& Exhibits

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Sugar Glider

(Petaurus breviceps)

The scientific name Petaurus breviceps means “short-headed rope dancer”, a reference to their canopy acrobatics. It is the most widespread of all the glider species and the most widespread of all tree dwelling marsupials in Australia. They have a furry membrane that extends from their wrists to their ankles (the membrane is called a patagium) that allows them to glide through the air. In the wild they move from tree to tree by gliding. They have been known to glide over 150 feet! Their hind feet have a large, opposable big toe that helps them grip branches, and the second and third toe forms a grooming comb.

Habitat

These social creatures are known to live in large groups. They are found in Australia, New Guinea in forests supporting a mixture of stringybark, box, ironbark and gum eucalypts trees.

Diet

Sugar Gliders are nocturnal, which means they will be most active at night. Their large eyes help them see and their ears swivel to help locate prey in the dark. They’ve earned their name from their love of eating nectar and flowers. They are known to be seasonally adapted omnivores with a wide variety of foods in their diet. Their diet consists of gums of wattle trees and eucalypt trees, manna (a white carbohydrate-rich crystalline substance that occurs on eucalyptus leaves), insects, honeydew, nectar, pollen, sap, and invertebrates. Sugar Gliders are also one of the marsupials that have been confirmed to enter Torpor (a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, usually by a reduced body temperature and metabolic rate. Torpor enables animals to survive periods of reduced food availability). They can enter Torpor daily for 13 hours at a time on days that would require large amounts of energy to maintain body temperature – these days include rainy days where the food sources are likely to be washed away and severe cold events.

Behavior

Sugar gliders are marsupials; the young are born very immature and grow in a pouch on the mother’s abdomen. Birth normally occurs 16 days after mating. This commonly takes place between August and December. They have 2 young per litter and can have 2 litters per year. Males also assist with the care of the young; it is not all left to the females. Young are attached to the teat for 40 days, and emerge at 60-70 days. After emerging young are left in a nest for 50 more days then will forage with their mother until they are 7-10 months old.

Predators

Predators include owls, kookaburras, quolls, cats, goannas (sand monitor lizards), and snakes.