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Yellow-bellied Glider

Petaurus australis

The tall eucalypt forests of the Central Coast contain patches of vegetation that provide habitat for several species of gliding and climbing possums. The calls of Yellow-bellied Gliders are more often heard than actual sightings of this species. The high pitched shrieks and low throaty gurgling calls can be detected several hundred metres away, particularly during the warmer months when the Yellow-bellied Gliders are more active.

Conservation Status 

This species is listed as vulnerable in NSW under Schedule 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation (TSC) Act 1995.

Description

  • Yellow bellied glider photo1The Yellow-bellied Glider is the largest member of the Petauridae family of Gliders within Australia.1
  • It is a nocturnal species with a fur covered skin membrane attached between its wrist and ankle, with a long fluffy grey to black tail.2
  • Generally grey along the back with a whitish to orange underside and oblique black stripe on the thigh.2
  • Head-Body length 370-300mm, tail length 420-480mm and weighs between 450-700 grams.1
  • Can glide up to 140m depending on site conditions, tree heights and distance between trees.
  • Yellow-bellied Gliders are often present in areas occupied by the larger, silent, Greater Glider. The Yellow-bellied Glider is more active and not as easily seen by spotlight as the Greater Glider. 

Other Relevant Characteristics

Behaviour: Arboreal (tree dwelling), nocturnal and very vocal. Leaves roosting hollow to forage approximately 30 minutes after sunset.

Scats: Elongated pellets approximately 15mm in length.

Calls: Distinctive and loud high pitch shriek followed by a growling, gurgling, throaty rattle.1 Often calls while gliding between trees. Visit the NSW Threatened Species website to listen to the call.

Tracks: They leave scratches on landing trees and sap feeding scars, which characteristically appear on trees as a V shape.2

Diet

  • Plant and insect exudates, including tree sap, nectar, honeydew and manna., provide the bulk of their food.2
  • Dietary proteins are derived from arthropods (small insects) and pollens ingested during nectar feeding.2
  • Sap feed trees are selected from the Corymbia and Eucalypt species, with a local preference for Eucalyptus punctata (Grey Gum).2
  • Feed tree selection may be determined by the pattern of sap flow within individual trees. Often feeds on several selected trees.

Preferred Habitat

  • Typically occurs in mature mixed eucalypt forests in areas of high rainfall.2
  • During the day it rests, usually in a tree hollow of a smoothed barked eucalypt species.1
  • Requires tall, large diameter trees with large hollows for denning. Blackbutt trees are often used for den sites.1

Where this Species can be Found

Map of distribution (PDF file, 2.7Mb) 

Gosford: Kincumba Mountain Regional Reserve, Katandra Reserve, Strickland State Forest, Bouddi NP, Dubbo Gully, Mangrove Mountain.

Wyong: Glenning Valley, Yarramalong, Dooralong.

Lake Macquarie: Cooranbong, Watagan Mountains, Wyee.

Where is this Species Habitat Protected?

Gosford: Brisbane Water National Park (NP), Popran NP, Bouddi NP, Kincumba Mountain Regional Reserve, Katandra Reserve, Strickland State Forest, Yengo NP.3

Wyong: Ourimbah & Wyong State Forest, Jilliby State Conservation Area, Olney State Forest, Wyrrabalong National Park.3

Lake Macquarie: Awaba State Forest, Glenrock State Nature Reserve, Green Point Foreshore Reserves, Olney State Forest.3

Threats to Survival

  • Habitat alteration and reduction that causes breaks in movement corridors.2
  • Loss of denning trees or trees capable of developing into denning trees (through fire or clearing for land development).2
  • Fragmentation of habitat and isolation of populations due to land development.
  • Construction and infrastructure barriers, such as roads, which may injure or kill species when they are gliding.
  • Predation by foxes, cats and dogs. 

Management Issues

  • Protection and management of habitat is required, in particular retention of hollow bearing and senescent trees, retention of saplings and young trees that will become hollow-bearing as they mature, retention of winter flowering eucalypts and sap feed trees. Protection of old growth forests and maintenance of habitat connectivity.2
  • A recovery plan has been prepared by the NPWS (2003), which provides details on the biology of the species, threats, management issues and management actions. The TSC Act (1995) requires government agencies to be consistent with the recovery plan. 

Useful Web Links

Further Reading

  • Hawkins. B. (2004) The Distribution and calling behaviour of the Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis in the Gosford Area
  • Lindenmayer, David 2002. Gliders of Australia a Natural History. UNSW Press.
  • Ross, L. Goldingay & S. M. Jackson (Eds) 2004. The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders. Surrey Beatty & Sons. NSW.
  • Triggs, B. (1996), ‘Tracks, Scats & Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals’, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Bibliography

  1. Strahan. R. (Ed) (1998), ‘The Mammals of Australia’, Reed Holland Publishers, Carlton, VIC.
  2. National Parks Wildlife Service (2003). Recovery Plan for the Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis), NPWS Hurstville.
  3. National Parks and Wildlife Service (2003), Lower Hunter and Central Coast Regional Environment Management Strategy Vegetation Survey, Classification and Mapping: Lower Hunter and Central Coast Region. CRA Unit, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

Photograph by Gary Lewis Photography Pty Ltd.