Nature takes flight!

Sugar gliders are an Australian marsupial that from nose to tip of tail are between 24-30cm long and weighs between 115 grams (female) to 140 grams (male). Sugar gliders can launch themselves into the air and can glide up to 50 metres! 

How do they glide?

Well they launch themselves using their highly adapted hind feet which can grip well onto surfaces such as rock or trees, then spread their limbs to engage the gliding membrane (also known as twin membrane). The twin membrane stretches from the little finger to the hind legs and act as a wing or parachute when they glide. They can also use their twin membranes as pockets to collect food to take back to their youngTheir long body allows for short glides and sharp turns through woodland habitat.

1 becomes 3!

Amazingly just last year, it was discovered that a range of sugar gliders in different places were in fact three different species. The collaborative study by Australian Researchers shows the sugar glider is actually three genetically and physically distinct species: Petaurus breviceps and two new species, Krefft’s glider (Petaurus notatus) and the savanna glider (Petaurus ariel).

You can read more about that study on The Conversation here.


Where do they live?

Sugar gliders are found around the northern and eastern parts of Australia, according to the Atlas of Living Australia.

Atlas of Living Australia - Sugar Glider Sightings in Australia

Atlas of Living Australia – Sugar Glider Sightings in Australia


We’re also very lucky to have gliders living in and around Sydney where our project ‘My Wild Western Sydney Neighbours’ is based. The gliders like the Cumberland Plains Woodlands in spots like Prospect Nature reserve and Nurrangingy reserve.  They can travel up to 1km through open country to reach forests and other glider communities.  

This map shows the Atlas of Living Australia’s sightings for sugar gliders in and around Sydney since 2010:

Atlas Of Living Australia - Sugar Glider Sightings Sydney 2010 to 2021

Atlas Of Living Australia – Sugar Glider Sightings Sydney 2010 to 2021


Behaviour and diet

Sugar gliders are social animals that commonly share nests and live in large groups in winter to conserve energy. They are also the largest marsupials to enter ‘torpor’ state. Torpor is a form of hibernation where they enter a state of physical inactivity. They can go into torpor daily on cold days or when food is in short supply.  

The sugar glider gets its name from its appetite to eat all things sweet! They have a diet of flowering native plants, tree sap (such as the iconic sugary sap of eucalyptus trees), insects and have also been observed eating bird eggs. 

They are classified as an important pollinator in Australia. Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies enabling the transfer of pollen to the reproductive system of most flowering plants. Did you know that more than 200,000 species of pollinators are essential to the growth of our food supply?!

Many of these important pollinators, including the sugar glider, are in trouble!

Common threats are predation (particularly cats and dogs), habitat loss and lack of connectivity between habitats.


What can we do?

  1. Plant native flowering plants such as crimson bottlebrush or blueberry ash in your garden. To create a pollinator habitat garden it is good to have an assortment of plants which flower throughout the year. This then provides a consistent food supply to encourage pollinators to stay, feed, drink and have shelter.
  2. Protect hollow bearing trees – sugar gliders nest in hollows which are holes developed in trees that are over 100 years old! If you notice these hollow bearing trees in your area you can monitor and protect them. If there is a lack of hollow bearing trees, planting tree species such as eucalyptus will provide not only a food source but also a home for sugar gliders and other species for centuries to come.
  3. Install a nesting box for sugar gliders to provide them an additional home. Look up ‘Build your own wildlife nest box, a guide for Western Sydney’ a free online resource to see templates and instructions as to how to build your own nest box or ask your local men’s shed for help
  4. Responsible pet ownership – ensure you keep your cats inside at night and dogs on a leash when out on walks. If you ever see an injured sugar glider or native animal call WIRES or your local wildlife rescue group.
  5. Talk about the sugar gliders and the problems they face and work with your neighbours to protect the sugar gliders and build a sugar glider highway through the planting of native flowering plants throughout the community! A single tree left in a backyard can provide a breeding link between one isolated sugar glider to another.

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Get Involved

Find out more about our Sugar Glider project - My Wild Western Sydney Neighbours - and all the ways you can get involved in protecting this iconic little critter.