Sugar Glider
(Petaurus breviceps) #64-20

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Physical characteristics and distribution

The Sugar Glider is a relatively small marsupial; its head and body are approximately 120-320mm long and the tail has a length of 150-480mm. Sugar Gliders are generally blue-greyish dorsally while their ventral surfaces are somewhat paler. A dark stripe runs down the back from the posterior end to the nose, while similar stripes are located on each side of the face running from the eye to the ear. Much like Flying Squirrels, Sugar Gliders have a gliding membrane which extends from the outer side of the fore foot to the ankle of the rear foot and may be opened by spreading out the limbs. The prehensile tails are furred all around and in this species are used to transport leaves for nest material. Sugar Gliders can glide up to 45 meters and has been observed catching moths in flight.

Sugar Gliders can live in forests of all types, given that there is an adequate food supply. They build their nests in the branches of eucalyptus trees inside their territory. They are omnivorous, favoring sap, nectar small insects and larvae, arachnids, and small vertebrates.

Nesting is done in groups of up to seven males and females and their young, most likely all from the same original colonizing pair. Nesting groups seem to be mutually exclusive and territorial. Two of the most dominant males protect against intruders and father the group's young. The young usually leave the group at 10 -12 months of age. A highly developed communication system relies on individual scents produced by frontal, sternal and urogenital glands of males and pouch and urogenital glands of females. Scents mark the territory inhabited by the group and in addition, the dominant male scent marks the other members of the group.

The female Sugar Glider also has a well developed pouch. Females are polyestrous, with estrous cycles lasting 29 days. There seems to be no specific breeding season in most of the range and females can produce an additional litter if the first is lost or weaned. In southeastern Australia, it appears that young are only born from June to November. Gestation is about 16 days, remain attached to the nipple for 40 days and leave the pouch at 70 days. The young leave the nest at 111 days and soon are independent. Sexual maturity for both females occurs late in the first year and early in the second year for males.

Petaurus breviceps is found in SE South Australia to Cape York Peninsula (Queensland), Tasmania (introduction), N Northern Territory, NE Western Australia; New Guinea and adjacent small islands, including Bismarck Arch.; Aru Isls and N Moluccas (Indonesia).

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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