Photo: Vanessa and Chris Ryan
The greater glider Petauroides Volans is the largest of Australia’s gliding possums, living in a variety of eucalyptus forests primarily along the east coast of Australia from Mossman, Queensland down to Daylesford in Victoria. Striking in appearance, the greater glider at first glance looks like a mis-match of features. Long, hair covered ears, a short snout, a gliding membrane, finished off with a rather long fluffy tail- it would be hard to confuse this species with any other on encountering it in the wild. This gliding mammal is often referred to as the worlds ‘most clumsy possum’, honoured for its awkward gait when on the ground. Their poor mobility once on the ground makes them extremely vulnerable to predators, such as owls, dogs and cats. Greater gliders, much like koalas lead a relatively sedentary life, due to a diet of eucalyptus buds, leaves, mistletoe and flowers.
Part of the ringtail possum family, this glider is the only species which does not have a prehensile tail, and its gliding membrane attaches from the animal’s ankles to elbows. Able to glide up to 100m in a single glide, the species has an important network of trees within its home range. In areas where studied, Males and females have reasonably small home ranges, which overlap that are known to be between 1 and 11.5 ha, this usually includes approximately 20 trees which is relies on for feeding and hollows for denning. Females have single young born in May to June, and they are believed to live to approximately 15 years. This species is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species and recently upgraded on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Recent Fauna Surveys conducted near Ravenshoe by our environmental consultants
4Elements Consulting are undertaking a number of surveys to improve our understanding of where populations of this species occur, and their current densities near Ravenshoe in North Queensland. This was carried out by six experienced field staff, who walked in pairs at night with headlamps looking for the white eye shine of greater gliders and other nocturnal animals. Surveys were carried out on foot across 5.8 km, where 27 animals were recently recorded. These surveyed were funded by Ratch- Australia Corporation. This information will contribute to knowledge of its distribution and ecology in North Queensland, and elements of its habitat which are important for its conservation. Following surveys, the team are now planning to radio-track the population, which will provide further insight into key tree species within their range for feeding and denning which require protection, and to establish their local home ranges. The data will contribute to future management plans for protecting these populations, particularly around development works within the site in the future.