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Squirrel Glider

License : Advanced

Captive life span : 6-10 years

Size : Head & body length 180-230mm, tail 220-300mm 

Weight : 190-300grams.

Housing : Aviary

The Squirrel Glider was added to the Victoria Wildlife Schedules in 2009. As a species it has found its way into private collections very successfully. A Squirrel Gilder has similar features to the more commonly kept Sugar Glider, with the exception being that the Squirrell Glider is approximately twice the size of a Sugar Gilder. It is important to note Squirrel Gilders will hybridise with Sugar Gliders it is never recommended to house these species together.

The Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis stands alone as a species, there are no known sub species.  The Squirrel Gliders range extends from Northern Queensland along the Australian east coast through New South Wales into Western Victoria. Conservation status of the Squirrel Gilder is varied across its range, Victoria – threatened, New South Wales – vulnerable and Queensland – common. Gliders are distinguished from possums by their gliding membrane called a patagium that extends from the hind limb to the fore limb. The gliding membrane is a fold of skin, connective tissue and muscle. In Petaurus spp. The gliding membrane starts at the fifth digit of the fore foot extending to first digit of the hind limb.  Head and body length 180-230mm, tail 220-300 mm. Weight 190-300g. In the wild their life expectancy is approx. 6 years. In captivity 6-10 years. You need an Advanced License to keep this species in Victoria.

Description - Squirrel Gliders are bluey grey in colour with a dark dorsal stripe. Cream to grey underside/belly, with a grey and black. Squirrel Gliders are a vocal species with a vocalisation range that includes barking and chatter.  The Squirrel Glider does not shrill and yap like the Sugar Glider but has a defined gurgling chatter, deeper than other glider species. Squirrel Gliders also vocalise with a soft grunting repetitive calls similar to some of the vocalisation heard from the Yellow-Bellied Glider.

House requirements - When housing any species, the larger the enclosure the better. For best practice husbandry recommended enclosure requirements are 7sqm for 2 animals and 3m high. Increased floor area of 1sqm per additional animal. For the construction of a Squirrel Glider aviary steel tube would be the best material. Wood exposed to gliders will be chewed, treated timber should always be avoided. Wire used on aviaries is 12 mm x 12 mm x 1.4mm thick, weld mesh. Furnishing the aviary depends on the space you have, securing branches to the wire or planting them in the ground straight up and down to mimic tree trunks is a good start. The larger the gaps between branches will encourage gliding.  Also consider a network of climbing branches suspended from the top of the aviary. Think about where you place food, stainless steel food bowls hooked onto the wire can be moved around the cage, which will increase your Gliders activity and stimulate them at the same time. Nest boxes should be provided as an alternative to a hollow log, simply because they are usually easier to access, to clean and replace if necessary.  Nest boxes can be lined with fresh wood shavings or a similar bedding material. The more nest boxes that can be provided the better, two nest boxes for a pair of Squirrel Gliders, is ideal. Squirrel Gliders will make their own nest within the box. When they are provided with fresh browse and branches. The nest box size is 200 mm x 200 mm x 400 mm high. Entrance hole should be 80-90 mm in diameter. 

Health - Nutritional osteodystrophy - known as hind limb paralysis can be common in captive Squirrel gliders. It seems to be cause by a calcium deficient diet. Adding calcium to the diet can be done by calcium dusting insects or gut loading insects with a high calcium diet. Ectoparasites - ticks and fleas, signs can be the animal grooming excessively. Routine examination of the fur may alert you to this early. Good hygiene always is a preventative to any disease. If possible, quarantine new animals for a period before introducing them to individual or your colony. Endoparasites - do not normally affect gliders with good husbandry practices in place. Veterinary advice should be sought for diagnosis and treatment of intestinal worms. Toxoplasmosis - Toxoplamasma gondii, is a protozoan parasite it needs to be ingested via cat faeces. Prevent animals having access to cats and cat faecal material. Keep cats from accessing food storage areas and equipment areas. Good husbandry and hygiene practices are especially important to prevent all possible causes of disease. 


Diet - Their diet in the wild consists of exudates, invertebrates, nectar, pollen and fruit. In captivity it is not difficult to provide an appropriate diet for this species. Diet used by Healesville Sanctuary - Daily per animal – 20g mixed fruit and vegetables chopped, 5g corn chopped, 1g sprouted seed, 2g fly pupae, 2 mealworms, 5ml nectar mix, Dog/Chow Eukanuba pet food kibble. Supplement - Pollen granules– once per week, 1.5g pet health food once per week (Ecopet one small cube), Insects 3-4 times per week.  Nectar Mix - 900ml warm water, 900ml honey, 6 shelled hard-boiled eggs, 150g high protein baby cereal, 6tsp Sustagen.  Method- Stir together water and honey until dissolved. Make eggs mushy. Add all ingredients together blend until smooth. Can be stored for up to two weeks. Fresh water should be available at all times. Acacia, eucalypts and other blossoms should be supplied. Fresh cuttings should be given every two or three days. Tip: Use a long plastic container wired to the aviary to hold water and put cuttings in. Another nectar mix that is quite easy is 2 level tbs Sustagen. 1/4 cup farex. 1/4 cup level raw sugar. 1 boiled egg (shelled). Water to mix. Put all ingredients into a kitchen blender and blend until a smooth consistency.  Other vegetables can be added to the diet, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, it will depend on what each individual animal likes. There are also some commercial supplements that can be used in a Squirrel Gliders diet. Insectivore rearing mix. Wombaroo high protein supplement. Vetafarm blossom nectar. Squirrel gliders do not feed primarily on nectar, it is a supplement. Exercise and a correct diet will prevent Squirrel Gliders becoming obese. Obesity can lead to health issues. Cages should be checked daily to remove uneaten food, and refresh water bowls. 

Breeding/introductions – In the wild Squirrel Gliders live in family groups. They can live communally in captivity. Careful observation will alert you to possible aggression in animals and changes in the social structure, especially amongst growing males in the colony. Sexing is quite easy with males having obvious testes also males have scent gland in middle of their forehead which develops with age. A pair of animals is a good introduction to keeping this species. Squirrel Gliders breed well in captivity usually breeding once per year. Birth season is May-December with a litter size of 1-2. Both males & females become sexually mature at 12 months of age. New colonies are best made with young animals, recently weaned or under one year old. Ideally when obtaining animals from different places they should be introduced into a new enclosure at the same time, to avoid fighting over already established territories. Introducing an individual to an individual of the opposite sex will usually go well and without incident. Introductions of one animal into an already established group should be avoided. If necessary to do this a new enclosure should be set up with no scent of other Squirrel Gliders and new nest boxes provided. Always be observant while doing this kind of introduction until a group structure develops. Squirrel Gliders are a relatively easy species and can be rewarding for those looking to keep their first marsupials, or for the already experienced keeper. They are a species that when kept with good husbandry and hygiene practices in place are relatively disease and problem free. Once established in their enclosure with a bit of work from you, they will become friendly, able to be hand fed and patable

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