Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sugar Gliders 101

Sugar Gliders are the softest cutest little creatures I have ever seen.




Here is the scoop!



Sugar Glider (Honey Glider, Short-headed Possum)

Can glide distances of 200 ft

Appearance

The sugar glider is perhaps the most striking in appearance of all the marsupials. Due to their beautiful coat and small size, they are often kept as pets in North America.

Sugar gliders are diminutive in size. They are generally 11-16 in (27.5 - 40 cm) in length, with 6-8 in (15-20 cm) of that belonging to the bushy, non-prehensile tail. Sexual dimorphism is present in this species, with the males being larger than the females. The males weigh approximately 115-160 g, while the females weigh 100-135 g.

Sugar gliders have a squirrel-like body ending in a long tail. The heady is rather short and narrow. The legs are small and end in five-digit feet. All of the toes are clawed, with the exception of the opposable toe on each hind foot. The hind feet are syndactylus, with two of the toes being partially fused together. The sugar glider uses these fused toes for grooming.

Sugar gliders are covered with thick, soft fur. The coat is usually blue-grey in colour, but some specimens have been known to be yellow or tan, and even albinos are known to exist. A black stripe extends from the nose over the head and ends midway across the back. A black ring encircles either eye and extends back to the large, hairless ears. The last few inches of the tail are also black. The underbelly, chest, and throat are a light cream to white in colour. The top of the patagium is blue-grey, the underside is generally white interspersed with dark hairs, and the edge is a bright white.

The patagium is perhaps the most striking feature of the sugar glider. It is a thin layer of furred skin that stretches from the wrist to the ankle of the hind limb on either side of the body. When the legs are extended this skin is spread taught, much like in a North American flying squirrel, and the sugar glider is enabled to glide great distances.

Sugar gliders are marsupials, and so the females do have a marsupium (pouch). The marsupium is roughly ½ in (12.5 mm) in length, and is located in the middle of her abdomen. Sugar glider males also have a feature unique to many other marsupials – they have a bifurcated penis. In other words, their penis has two shafts, and acts like two separate penises.

Sugar gliders are highly vocal, often making what is known as a "crabbing" noise, somewhat reminiscent of an electric blender. They also bark, chirp, and chatter amongst themselves.

Sugar gliders have many scent glands used for marking territory. The males have three primary scent glands: one located on the forehead, one on the chest, and one alongside the cloaca (an opening for the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive tracts). The best way to tell a male sugar glider apart from a female is to look at the forehead, as in males the scent gland up there is visible as a bald spot.

Sugar gliders have an acute sense of smell and hearing. They are nocturnal, and so also have acute night vision.

Sugar gliders have a life span of 9 years in the wild, 12 in captivity.

Habitat

Sugar gliders are found throughout eastern and northern Australia (some have even been found in southern Australia), as well as its nearby islands, including Tasmania and Papua New Guinea. They can be found in all types of forests, but prefer the open forests where there is room to glide. Sugar gliders are social animals, nesting in family groups of up to twelve individuals. These groups are headed by a dominant male who will do most of the territorial marking. This territory, though small, consists of several eucalyptus trees and is readily defended by the entire group.

Sugar gliders are nocturnal, spending their days sleeping in a nest in a hollow portion of a tree. At night they are highly energetic, performing amazing acts of aerial acrobatics and gliding distances of 200 ft (66 m).

12 comments:

  1. Vicky, you are ever so sweet. Thank you so much. They ARE cute. Certainly a very unusual companion to have at home. Never have seen them before.
    Dear One, it is such a pleasure to get to know you and your world. Hugs across the pond xxx

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  2. I have never heard of such a thing. Too cute though!

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  3. these are too cute. I also never heard of them. It's like God gives us these cute things to make us smile. Your post and these pics made me smile. Sarah

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  4. Too cute. Thanks for sharing.

    Kate

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  5. Adorable. Like you :) Is that yours in the blue sock. Is it a sock? Does he/she have a name?

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  6. those guys are toooooo cute! can't say i know them. but now i do. thank you.

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  7. Looks a little like the fruit bats we chanced upon on an island we'd visited some months ago.
    Toddler in pic looks really amused!

    ~Silver

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  8. The place is mother nature farms in gilbert. they usually have a coupon in October. also, we have a zoo pass. I have an extra adult and 2 extra kids...but the boys are still free. Once it cools down i plan to go a lot. maes gets done with school around 11:30. so come late october and novemeber hit me up.
    Heidi

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  9. You splashed me today! When we lived in AZ my husband and I almost bought a sugar glider! They too captured our hearts. It is delight to find you today as we prepare to move back to AZ after serving on the mission field for the past 5 years.

    Coming to the desert,
    Sarah Dawn

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  10. Wow everyone,
    I should have showed you my babies a long time ago. Yes they are beyond cute and so soft, almost so soft you can't tell that you are touching anything.

    The first 3 pictures are my gliders and yes we hold them in fuzzy socks or zipper pouches because they feel safer that way.
    The last picture I took from the site that I linked to because getting one in mid leap is impossible for me. These little guys are lightening fast.

    Sarah Dawn Welcome back to AZ!

    Heidi, Isaac and I will definitely have to visit some wonderful places as soon as the weather is good for it. What do you think, Nov.? ;)

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  11. They are so adorable! My friend used to have one, and I loved holding it or just looking at its cuteness. :)

    Please stop by my blog and enter some fun giveaways. I've got a really great one that's ending today for a kid's outfit valued at $113! I really need to get some more entries for it, so I'd really appreciate your help! And you have a good chance of winning too!!! :)

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