Glider Images

 

 

 

 

 

FEATHER TAIL GLIDER

Acrobates Pygmaeus

 

Head and body length 65- 80 mm.

Tail length 70 - 80 mm.

Weight 10 - 14 grams

 

 

 

 

Feather-tail gliders are from the Burramyidae family and are related to the Pygmy Possum. They are found in forests and woodlands of Eastern coast of Australia.

What fascinates me most about these animals, is that because they are so small they have trouble staying warm when it is cold or when there is a shortage of food, so they enter a state known as Torpidity . This means that for short periods, no longer than two weeks, their breathing slows down and the animal is unresponsive, the body temperature drops almost to that of its surroundings and this can last from one day but no more than two weeks . This state is not to be mistaken for hibernation which is for much longer periods and is not known to occur in Marsupials.


Like most of Australia's native mammals, this is a marsupial, or pouched animal, although it looks like mouse and acts like a flying squirrel.

It is at home in the trees, feeding on insects and nectar, and launching itself into the air when it needs to get from one tree to the next. Everything about the feather-tail glider is designed for soaring. A thin membrane of skin stretching from wrist to ankle, fringed with long hair along the edge, increases the body surface. When stretched out, the glider can float long distances, like a falling leaf.

Feather-tailed gliders are able to launch themselves great distances. To become airborne, they hurl themselves from trees with legs outstretched; the flap of skin between front and back feet extends like a parachute. The flattened tail helps this tiny possum to glide, steer, brake and anchor itself on landing. The feather-tail glider is widely distributed on the mainland east coast, where it leaps and runs along tree branches and fossicks for nectar, sap and insects.


They get their name from their 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.

( see image below)

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.

The feet resemble a frog except with fur and the large pads on the toes which have serrated groves underneath which allow them to climb just about anything. Feather-tail Gliders eat a variety of insects including Moths, Beetles and larvae as well as new tips of trees, nectar, pollen, sap and blossoms. These gliders will build their nests in just about anything from abandoned birds nests to Banana bags and line the nest with leaves and shredded bark from trees.

They have been known to live in communal groups of up to 16 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 babies 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.

 

 

 
   

 


Reference: The Australian Museum. 1996. "The Complete book of Australian Mammals."

 

 
 
 

©Wildlife Mountain 2000 - 2017

 

We would also like to acknowledge the amazing support and help we have had from the Lismore Vet Clinic who have been an invaluable support to both us and the native wildlife of this region.


All native birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are proteced under the Wildlife Act 1975, they may not be captured or harmed in any way without an authority issued under the Wildlife Act.