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Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis)

Endagered Species Classification

ex
Extinct
ew
Extinct in the Wild
ce
Critically Endangered
en
Endangered
vu
Vulnerable
cd
Conservation Dependent

Land clearance for agriculture, grazing, forestry and human settlement has reduced the total area of remaining mahogany glider habitat to around 110,000ha, which is less than 20 per cent of the total area considered to be present at time of European settlement. There are only 1,500 individuals left in the wild.

The major threat to the Mahogany Glider is the destruction, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat. The mahogany glider requires more or less continuous vegetation cover so that glide from treetop to treetop. Infrastructure corridors such as major roads, railway lines and powerlines, along with land clearing, present barriers to their movement. The other main threats are entanglement in barbed wire fencing, road kills and predation by cats.

Early in 2011, Cyclone Yasi devastated the Mahogany Glider’s habitat. Recovery plans focussed on providing emergency food and nest boxes until the habitat recovers sufficiently to allow the Gliders to fend for themselves. FAME provided funding to assist with monitoring mahogany glider feed stations and den boxes from 2011-2012.

Longer term planning aims to conserve and improve the Mahogany Gliders habitat. Landholders are also being encouraged to replace the top strand of barbed wire with plain wire to prevent the Gliders from becoming entangled in the fencing.

Description
Appearance: The Mahogany Glider is the second largest of six gliders occurring in Queensland. Mahogany gliders are much larger than their closest relative, the squirrel glider, with which they may be confused in the wild. Fully grown Mahogany Gliders are around 60cm long from head to tail-tip and weigh 300-450g. Colour varies from overall mahogany brown to grey-brown along back and a buff coloured belly.

The mahogany glider, in common with other gliders, has a fold of skin which stretches between the front and rear legs which acts like a parachute allowing the animal to glide between tree tops. They can glide an average distance of 30m  - this is 50 times their own body length! Their long tail gives them extra stability, especially when coming in for a landing on a tree trunk.

Behaviour: Mahogany gliders either den with their mate or alone. In one year they can use up to 10 dens.  They are territorial, actively marking their home range and chasing out other Mahogany Gliders. They have a typical territory of up to 20 ha.

Diet: The mahogany glider forages alone at night feeding on nectar, pollen and sap of over twenty different species of trees and shrubs. It also eats honeydew (a sweet sticky substance excreted by insects such as aphids), insects such as lerps and the arils of wattles (an aril is a protein-rich stringy structure which connect seeds to the pod).

Did you know?
Gliders are an important part of their environment as they act as pollinators of tree species such as eucalyptus and banksia.

Click here to download a factsheet about the Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis)

Last updated May 2015