Sugar gilders (Petaurus breviceps) essentially dwell on trees and glide from one tree to other. They are called 'pure sugar' because of their extreme fondness for sweet food. At times, sugar gliders are also referred to as a 'pocket pets', because of their willingness to be carried along in pockets or small pouches; courtesy, their small size. These nocturnal marsupials are generally found to live in groups comprising 20 to 40 individuals. The taxonomic or scientific classification of sugar gliders is given below.
Sugar gliders grow to a length of about 16 to 22 cm and weigh about 90 to 150 grams. They have a black stripe extending from the head, over their back, right up to the end of their tail, which is incidentally, longer than their body. The two-colored skin membranes, called patagia, is a unique feature of the species. They glide with the help of these membranes and cover a distance of up to 150 feet at times. They are characterized by certain color variations depending on their subspecies. Their long tail assists in gliding, as they use it to balance their body. Additionally, they have a couple of peculiar features, like opposable thumbs and a genitalia branched into two parts in both, males and females.
These gliders have a lifespan of 15 years in extremely favorable conditions. It is extremely hard to detect their presence, as they are known to make a variety of sounds, such as low barking, chirping, chattering, and some very strange vocalism. Their membranes, which help them glide, form an aerodynamic cushion to enable smooth mobility, and are also helpful in gathering food. These membranes are pink in color, along with thin edges of fur around it. The ability to glide is also crucial for their survival, as it helps them escape from the clutches of their predators.
Habitat and Domestication
Being nocturnal in nature, sugar gliders hunt at night, feeding largely on small animals and insects. Their 'sweet diet' consists of sap from tees like gum, eucalyptus, and acacia, alongside nectar and pollen from flowers. Their diet pattern varies according to the region. They avoid wild areas due to the constant fear of predatory wild animals.
As stated earlier, sugar gliders stay in groups, each marked and fiercely guarded by the senior members. The group is headed by an adult male, who is responsible for all the members. It carefully marks the members by a typical scent from its glands, so that an intruding or visiting member is detected and immediately expelled. This adult male mates with females more often than the other males of the group do.
Even after severe deforestation and loss of natural vegetation, the sugar glider population continues to thrive across all of its habitats throughout the world. It is a popular exotic pet outside Australia. If you are planning to get a pet sugar glider, better be prepared to run around and constantly be on your feet.