The Sweet Sugar Glider – Petaurus breviceps

Sugar Glider, climbing down from a plant

Image via Wikipedia

– Scientific Classification –

The sugar glider is a small, arboreal marsupial that can be kept as a pet. They are native to New Guinea, Australia, Tasmania, and neighboring Indonesian Islands. Sugar gliders are only about 5 or 6 inches long in body with their tail being around the same length. This species of marsupial actually does have a pouch for the young. The skin membrane on each side of their body that aids in gliding, is called the patagium (also found in bats).

Gliders are a social animal (so having at least 2 is a necessity) that can live up to 15 years. Being marsupials, they are capable of embryonic diapause (see related articles) and, in 3 or 4 separate litters a year, can have 1-3 joeys, despite the mother only having 2 teats. For breeders, unsuspecting owners and wild populations, this sort of increase in numbers can be a bit of a shock. July – November is the “normal” breeding period so that young are reared during peak food availability in spring and summer. The joeys spend around 2 months in the pouch then another month in the nest.

Gliders can be finicky little things. The first time I heard of a sugar glider, I was watching Emergency Vets (Dr. Fitzgerald was the man) on Animal Planet and one was brought in in pretty bad shape. Sugar gliders are expensive. Upwards of $150 just from a pet store ($300-ish from a breeder). Then, necessities like the cage and toys are also costly. Gliders are insectivorous and also feed on gum and sap from acacia and eucalyptus trees, adding to the difficulties of captive care. Their scent glands are pretty constantly in use, making sugar gliders smelly little things. If you like sleep, this is probably not the right pet for you:

Dang nocturnal animals. So this post won’t be just bashing them in a captive aspect, here are some wild gliders leaving the nest:

Aaaaaand doing a little bit of gliding:

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Sources:

  1. Wikipedia – Sugar Glider
  2. Sugarglider.com
  3. Unique Australian Animals
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Monotremes – The Egg-laying Mammals

A Short-beaked Echidna on the move

Monotremes are egg-laying mammals indigenous to Australia and New Guinea. The name refers to the “single opening” they have (the cloaca) through which excretory and reproductive functions occur. There are two families, Ornithorhynchidae (“bird nose” ; platypus) and Tachyglossidae (“rapid tongue” ; 4 species of echidna).  Though they lay eggs, they do produce milk for their young. No defined teats means the milk simply oozes from their mammary glands. They have low reproduction rates (eggs are retained in the mother’s pouch for some time) and lengthy parental care. Lower metabolic rate means monotremes have relatively lower body temperature than placental mammals. As with reptiles and marsupials, they lack a corpus callosum (to be discussed in a later post). They have no teeth in adulthood, but need an egg tooth to hatch. Baby echidnas are commonly referred to as “puggles”.

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