Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
As is typical of flying phalangers, the Sugar Glider is nocturnal, small (usually around 400 mm, counting the tail), and has folds of loose skin running from its wrists to its ankles. Flying phalangers use this skin to glide from tree to tree by jumping and holding out their limbs spread-eagle. They're able to travel for distances as long as 100 meters. Beside the distinctive skin folds, flying phalangers also have large, forward facing eyes, short (though pointed faces), and long, flat tails which are used as rudders while gliding.
All are omnivores, and eat tree sap, gum, nectar, pollen, and insects, along with manna and honeydew. Most flying phalangers appear to be solitary, though the Yellow-bellied and Sugar Glider both are known to live in groups.
- Sugar Glider, Petaurus breviceps
- Yellow-bellied Glider or Fluffy Glider, P. australis
- Mahogany Glider , P. gracilis
- Northern Glider , P. abidi
- Biak Glider , P. biancensis
- Squirrel Glider, P. norfolcensis
While Biak and Sugar Gliders are relatively common, most of the other species are rare, or, in the case of Mahogany Glider, endangered. Mahoganies are so uncommon that they weren't seen for more than a hundred years after their original discovery in 1883. Nearly a month after they were rediscovered in 1989, their habitat was cleared for plantations, and another population wasn't found until 1991.
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