The Nature Conservation Trust of NSW works to protect many glider species. The attractive squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) lives in family groups and nests in bowl-shaped, leaf-lined nests in tree hollows. The squirrel glider is listed as vulnerable (endangered animal) in NSW. Its facial features are distinctive – a dark stripe extends from between its eyes to the mid-back – and its soft and bushy tail averages about 27 centimetres in length.
Squirrel glider habitat
The squirrel glider is sparsely distributed in eastern Australia, from northern Queensland to western Victoria. The squirrel glider inhabits mature or old growth box, box-ironbark woodlands and river red gum forest west of the Great Dividing Range and blackbutt-bloodwood forest with heath understorey in coastal areas.
The glider needs abundant tree hollows for refuge and nest sites. Its diet varies on the season, but comprises acacia gum, eucalypt sap, nectar, honeydew and manna, invertebrates and pollen.
Threats to the squirrel glider
The loss and fragmentation of glider's habitat, particularly mature trees containing nesting hollows, is the major threat to the squirrel glider. Individuals can get caught in barbed wire fences while gliding and suffer when the flowering understorey shrubs on which they feed are removed from forests.
Solutions – What can be done?
Retaining and protecting food resources, particularly sap-feeding trees and understorey acacias and banksias, is vital to the squirrel glider’s survival. Old-growth den trees and recruitment trees (future hollow-bearing trees) are just as important. Any works to rehabilitate glider habitat, reduce edge effects, minimise the foraging distances that gliders must travel and increase the food resources available to them will help the species recover. Replacing the top one or two strands of barbed wire on fences with regular wire in areas adjacent to squirrel glider habitat also helps.
The Nature Conservation Trust’s conservation work on private lands is helping to protect habitat for the squirrel glider.