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Sugar Glider

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The Sugar Glider is also known as the Lesser Flying Phalanger and the Short-Headed Flying Phalanger. This possum is an arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupial that lives in forests and rainforests of mainland Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and some nearby islands.

These social, territorial mammals live in small groups. During the day they rest in hollow trees, in nests that are lined with leaves. This large-eyed mammal is nocturnal; it is most active at night. The sugar glider has a life span of about 14 years. Its scientific name, Petaurus breviceps, means "rope-dancer with a short-head." Sugar gliders are phalangers, they belong to the family Phalangeridae (long-tailed arboreal marsupials with fox-like ears).

Gliding (Volplaning): The sugar glider has two thin, wing-like flaps of skin that span from the fifth finger to the first toe on each side of the body. The membrane allows this small animal to glide long distances through the air, from tree to tree. Using its powerful hind legs, the sugar glider can launch itself from tall trees and glide (volplane) over 165 ft (50 m). The long tail helps steer and stabilize the animal during flight. The sugar glider lands on a tree, landing on all four legs.

Anatomy: The sugar glider is about 8 inches (20 cm) long, plus a tail about the same length; adults weigh from 4 to 5.7 ounces (120-160 g). The coat is blue-gray with a dark stripe running along the back. The belly is pale-gray to cream-colored. The female sugar glider has a pouch in which her young (often twins) develop and eat (for about 70 days).

Diet: The sugar glider is an omnivore (eating plants and animals). It licks sweet gum from the acacia tree, sweet sap from eucalyptus trees, nectar, and some small invertebrates (like insects, larvae, and spiders).

Predators: The sugar glider is eaten by owls, kookaburras, quolls, cats, goannas (sand monitor lizards), and snakes.

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