Australia has an incredible array of fantastic and iconic wildlife but few people have ever seen or even heard of our beautiful Greater Glider Petauroides volans. As voluntary wildlife carers this charming animal recently came into temporary care following its rescue from a nearby bush fire which burnt its home.
This particular glider was lucky only to have a few non-life threatening burns and is well on its way to complete recovery. While it is not too difficult to find these animals spotlighting, if you know where to look, it is extremely rare to be able to get up close and personal with these charming mammals.
Greater Gliders are found across eastern Australia from the Wet Tropics in north Queensland, south to Victoria. In southern Queensland they extend well inland along the Great Dividing Range west to the Carnarvon Range. They typically live in eucalypt forests and woodlands which contain suitable food and shelter trees. Often these forests are quite tall which makes good viewing difficult without binoculars or a spotting telescope. You’ll only see them out at night – by day they’ll be asleep in their hollow.
Favorite food trees vary across their extensive range but this individual has relished the fresh shoots of Queensland Blue Gum, River Red Gum, Gum-topped Box, Dawson Gum, Poplar Box and Rough-barked Apple. Much like the Koala, their diet consists almost entirely of eucalypt leaves.
This individual’s fur is a lovely chocolate brown with whitish underparts, however their color varies and they may also be various shades of grey and cream. Their body is about a foot long with the tail being much longer – up to twice its body length. Although they are the largest of the gliding possums, Greater Gliders are more closely related to ring tail possums than the other gliders. Unlike the ring tail possum, its tail is not prehensile i.e. it can’t be used to wrap around branches. It is reported that these animals can glide between trees for distances up to a whopping 100 meters.
The future of Greater Gliders is not guaranteed and they have declined in numbers and extent across much of their range. Once considered an abundant species, they are now listed as a threatened species in Queensland and nationally. Their decline has been brought about mainly by habitat loss from broad-scale clearing, logging and severe fires. Luckily we can still have good populations of Greater Gliders in pars of Outback Queensland. Come and enjoy them while you can!
If you come across a sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, please contact the Maranoa Wildife Caring & Education Centre. MWCEC is a charitable organisation, that is run by volunteers, funded by donations and grants and was formed to provide rescue and rehabilitation services to the local native wildlife in the Maranoa area. It also aims to provide training to wildlife care volunteers and promote protection of our native fauna and biodiversity.