Squee Sunday: Sugar gliders

A sugar glider on a finger
A sugar glider

Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) are small nocturnal marsupials. They live in forests in Australia, Indonesia and New Guinea.

As the name suggests, they like to glide.

Sugar glider flying down from over a doorway.
Sugar glider showing where the name comes from.

It’s a good way to get from one tree to another without exhausting your tiny self going all the way down to the ground and back up. It also avoids the predators on the way. Not to mention leaving them behind looking silly as you zoom to safety.

They like to eat insects in summer when they can get them. In winter there aren’t nearly so many, so they chew a small hole in a tree and drink the sugary sap, which is why they’re sugar gliders rather than mahogony gliders.

Sugar glider 'flying' in front of a fan
Sugar glider ‘flying’ in front of a fan

They’re a popular pet in Australia and the United States. I can see the appeal, but wild sugar gliders have territories of over an acre, and I’m not sure they’d be happy in a flat. They’re also prone to calcium deficiencies in captivity, and get something similar to rickets. So I won’t be getting one myself.

But I’d still love to tickle a sugar glider’s tummy.

Tummy tickles
Tummy tickles

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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