ugust 12 2014
Gliders come in many sizes, the smallest being the Feather-tailed glider with a head and body length of just 6.5 - 8cm and an adult weight of 10-15 gram.
This little lady was found on 2 August inside a house with her sibling. Unfortunately her sibling did not survive however Floss as she has been named by her carer is doing well and now ready for exploring the world around her ( in her small enclosure at this stage)
She weighed a mighty 4.5 gram on arrival and has since grown to 5.6 gram, quite a weight gain in just 10 days when one is so tiny.
They get their name from Atheir remarkable tail which is flat with stiff fringed hair growing horizontally either side all the way to the tip. The tail is used to steer and brake as they glide up to 20 meters through the trees. They are the only known mammal to have a feather like tail. Tail length is 7-8cm and shaped just like the feather on a bird. Due to their small size this tiny Glider is often missed when in trouble, or mistaken for a mouse when the cat brings it inside.
Feather-tailed gliders build their nests in anything from abandoned bird’s nests to banana bags and line the nest with leaves, feathers and shredded bark. The nest is 6-8cm spherical and closed. Usual nesting places include palms, stag horn and tree ferns. They can at times be found inside the house in winter after someone has brought a load of firewood inside. They may build their nest under the loose bark of old trees as this can be a lovely warm and secure home for these tiny animals. Unfortunately less secure once the timber is taken as firewood. Please ensure you check any loose bark before placing it in your fireplace, not only tiny gliders may be living beneath the bark, so can green tree frogs. Like all gliders they have a skin fold known as the gliding membrane, in Feather-tails this membrane extends from the elbow to the knee. Fringed with long hair along the edge, the body surface is increased. When stretched out, the glider can float long distances, like a falling leaf. It is at home in the trees, feeding on insects, pollen and nectar it launches itself into the air when it needs to get from one tree to the next.
To become airborne, they hurl themselves from the tree with legs outstretched; the flap of skin between front and back feet extending like a parachute. The flattened tail helps this tiny possum to glide, steer, brake and anchor itself on landing. The feet resemble that of a frog except with fur, and the large pads on the toes which have serrated groves underneath allow them to climb just about anything. In fact many sweat glands creating moisture on the foot pads allow this tiny Glider the surface tension like mini suction cups to climb even vertical panes of glass. They are found throughout Eastern Australia from South Aust. through to far north Queensland.
They have been known to live in communal groups of up to 30 and the breeding cycle is all year round in the Northern parts and spring, summer to late winter in the South. The female has four teats but rarely carries more than three young at a time and can fall pregnant whilst still carrying young in the pouch. They have a life expectancy of 4 years in the wild. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance with the obvious difference being the pouch in the female.