Sugar Glider

Petaurus breviceps

Pronunciation: Pet-taur-ross brev-vee-seps
Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps): Require old growth trees for shelter | Copyright Chad Beranek 2015

Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) | Copyright Chad Beranek 2015

These peculiar mammals have adapted gliding abilities to be able to forage through the woodlands of the Australia landscape more efficiently. Sugar Gliders are incredibly acrobatic and can steer their gliding mid-flight. Sugar Gliders are entirely nocturnal and become active from around sunset, remaining active till sunrise. During winter, cold weather and rain the Sugar Gliders cease their activity and go into a state of torpor (decrease physiological activity, metabolism and body temperature), where they tuck up into a tree hollow.

How to attract them to your backyard

Sugar Gliders are found in areas of Sydney which have large tracts of remnant woodland. Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park, Lane Cove National Park and the Royal National Park all have large stable populations. Any suburbs and houses which are closely situated to these national parks will have a good chance of attracting these acrobatic marsupials provided the necessary habitat is included.

Old Growth Trees: Any large old Eucalypts will most likely have suitable hollows large enough to accommodate a family of Sugar Gliders. Notable trees for Sugar Glider habitat include: Angophora costataEucalyptus pilularis, Eucalyptus saligna and Eucalyptus tereticornis. Sugar Gliders most often nest in small groups of 2-7 and huddle together for warmth on cooler nights.

Food Sources: Sugar Gliders feed on invertebrates and nectar. They feast on tree sap via making incisions into the bark of Eucalypt trees and drinking the liquid that flows from the scar. Tree scarring marks that Sugar Gliders make in the trees are a good way to tell if there are Sugar Gliders active within an area. Ensuring there are Wattles (Acacia sp.) growing on your property will also add another dynamic to the food resources of Sugar Gliders. During the summer months when there is an abundance of emerging insects, Sugar Gliders will heavily hunt Moths and Beetles to get their protein requirements in their diet. Sugar Gliders will also get their protein intake by opportunistically robbing bird nests. Overall having a variety of different trees and shrubs in an area will provide Sugar Gliders will the wide variety of food they need to be healthy.

Dense Woodland: The main predator of the Sugar Glider in most woodlands is the Powerful Owl. To avoid escape the talons of this fearsome predator Sugar Gliders will preferentially choose to forage and live in dense woodland. This simply increases the protection of Sugar Gliders against any attack attempts of Powerful Owls by providing more coverage while they are collecting food.


Further Reading

Barber-Meyer, S. M. 2007. Photopollution impacts on the nocturnal behaviour of the Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps). Pacific Conservation Biology 13:171-176.

Carthew, S. M. 1993. An assessment of pollinator visitation to Banksia spinulosa. Australian Journal of Ecology 18:257-268.

Drury, R. 2014. The use of remote cameras at the nestboxes of arboreal mammals, Brush-tailed Phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa and Sugar Glider Petaurus breviceps in the Rushworth State Forest. Victorian Naturalist 131:15-23.

Jackson, S. M. 2000. Habitat relationships of the mahogany glider, Petaurus gracilis, and the sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps. Wildlife Research 27:39-48.

Körtner, G., and F. Geiser. 2000. Torpor and activity patterns in free-ranging sugar gliders Petaurus breviceps (Marsupialia). Oecologia 123:350-357.

Suckling, G., and M. Macfarlane. 1983. Introduction of the Sugar Glider, Petaurus breviceps, into Re-established Forest of the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, Vic. Wildlife Research 10:249-258.

Suckling, G. C. 1984. Population Ecology of the Sugar Glider, Petaurus breviceps, in a System of Fragmented Habitats. Wildlife Research 11:49-75.

Taylor, B. D., and D. Rohweder. 2013. Radio-tracking three Sugar Gliders using forested highway median strips at Bongil Bongil National Park, north-east New South Wales. Ecological Management & Restoration 14:228-230.