Squirrel Glider’s night life in the treetops

Friday 1 December, 2023
The Squirrel Glider is the Catchment Critter of the Month as part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Our Catchments Our Communities Taking Care of Country project, funded by the Victorian Government.

Goulburn Broken CMA project officer, Janice Mentiplay-Smith, said although it shares the same environment and similar features and habits to the Sugar Glider, the Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) was identifiable by its larger size.

“As with the Sugar Glider, the Squirrel Glider is a gliding marsupial that lives a nocturnal life amongst the treetops,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“It too has adapted to utilising nest boxes where natural tree hollows are lacking. If you live in a woodland or forested area, installing nest boxes on your property is one of the most immediate ways you can benefit hollow-dependent wildlife such as the Squirrel Glider.

“The Squirrel Glider covets the sugary nectar and sap that packs a carbohydrate punch, and readily uses its sharp teeth to pierce tree trunks to cause the sap to ooze. Insects, bird eggs, and small nestlings are also on the menu. Its natural predators include goannas, carpet pythons, owls and kookaburras, demonstrating their importance in the food chain.”

The Squirrel Glider produces one or two joeys after just 18 days gestation. The young remain in their mother’s pouch for around three months and wean at four months, becoming independent at around 10 months of age.

“The Squirrel Glider faces the same threats as its sugary cousins - cats, foxes, and barbed wire fences that snag their delicate gliding membrane, as well as habitat loss and degradation, loss of hollow-bearing trees and understorey food plants, inappropriate fire regimes and the occupation of existing tree hollows by other aggressive species,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“As the incremental loss of large old trees containing hollows continues across the landscape, the Squirrel Glider is forced to occupy dangerous roadsides where large old trees remain, increasing the risk of vehicle collision.”

Read more about the Squirrel Glider and other mammal species in the Goulburn Broken catchment in “the Mammal Book’, a 58-page booklet featuring beautiful and informative text: The Mammal Book - GB CMA - Goulburn Broken CMA

Squirrel Glider. Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria. Photograph: D Paul, Museums Victoria

The Goulburn Broken CMA acknowledges and respects First Nations people and the deep connection they have with their land and waters.

We acknowledge the Yorta Yorta and Taungurung people and their ancestors/forbears as Traditional Owners of the land and waters in the Goulburn Broken Catchment (and beyond). We value our ongoing partnerships with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Taungurung Land and Waters Council for the health of Country and its people.

We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge and recognise the primacy of Traditional Owners obligations, rights and responsibilities to use and care for their traditional lands and waters.

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