Sugar Gliders : March 2021

As part of the animal capture, handling and release course I did this week, we set out cage, pipe and Elliot traps to see if we could get lucky with arboreal and ground based mammals. Two transects of traps were laid out in fairly degraded forest on the heights above the Shoalhaven River in north Nowra. Traps were checked first thing each morning and closed up for the day, and rebaited and left open overnight.

Cage trap in position. The open end is facing the tree trunk. Plastic to provide some shelter.

The first night we only caught one Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps), and two the second night. These little gliders fit in the palm of one hand and are one of the sweetest looking little possums you’ll ever see.

Unfortunately people like to keep them as pets which is just wrong. They are social animals and very active, able to glide up to 50 metres/yards from tree to tree using the membranes between their front and hind feet.

Taxonomically, these gliders have recently been split into three species, the Savannah Glider (P. ariel) which lives in northern Australia, Krefft’s glider (P. notatus) which has a very distinct dorsal stripe, and the Sugar Glider, with a less distinct back stripe. Based on that characteristic, the ones we caught were Sugars. One of the two caught on the second night was quite indignant about the whole thing and may have been the same one we caught the first night. They were taken back to the same capture sites for release.

We also went spotlighting and frog hunting nearby and did see a Sugar Glider launch and land on trees near the marsh, and a wombat mum and bub out for an evening munch. Magic stuff!

Mammal watching total = 29

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