There are four sub species of common ringtail possum in Australia. P.p. peregrinus, Cape York to Kangaroo Island. P. p. cooki, coast scrubs of South eastern mainland. P.p. convolutor, Tasmania and Bass Strait Islands. P.p. pulcher South eastern Queensland and Northern eastern NSW rainforest. Size - head and body length 300-350mm, tail length 300-350mm and weight 700-900g. Ringtails live between to 3-6 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity. You require a Basic License to keep this species in Victoria.  For those keeping this species in Victoria is is highly likely they are keeping Pseudocheirus peregrinus convolutor.

The Sugar Glider Petaurus breviceps has seven sub-species. Three occurring in Australia and the other four in New Guinea. The sub species occurring in Australia are, P.b. ariel, Northern Territory extending into Western Australia. P.b.longicaudatus, Queensland and P.b breviceps, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania (introduced in 1830’s). Head and body length 160-210 mm, tail 160-210 mm. Weight, males 115-160g and females 95-135g. In the wild their life expectancy is 4-6 years. In captivity 5-8, however they have been know up to 10 years, the oldest known animal lived to 14 years. You need a Basic License to keep this species in Victoria. Under current licensing laws sub species are not recognised or required to be listed. Individual members of the Marsupial Society do recognise, record and maintain pure sub-species of the 3 that occur in Australia.  P.b breviceps is the most commonly kept of all the sugar gliders. P.b.longicaudatus this sub species’s purity is questionable and has been hybridised with P.b breviceps for many years, there are still pure longicaudatus kept. P.b. ariel is kept in small numbers and has avoided being hybridised and successfully maintained a pure subspecies.

Sugar Glider - Petaurus breviceps

Sugar Gliders are bluey grey in colour with a dark dorsal stripe. Cream to grey underside/belly, with a grey and black tail sometimes with a white tip. Sugar Gliders are a vocal species with a vocalisation range from barking, shrilled yapping and a defiant gurgling chatter (usually heard when disturbing them while in their nest box).

House requirements - When housing any species, the larger the enclosure the better. Current DSE recommended enclosure requirements are 5sq meters for 2 animals and 3m high. Increased floor area of 1sq meter per extra animal. For the construction of a Sugar Glider aviary steel tube would be the best material. Wood exposed to the Glider will be chewed and treated timber should always be avoided. Wire used on aviaries is 12 mm x 12 mm x 1.4mm thick, weld mesh. Furnishing the aviary depends on the space you have, securing branches to the wire or planting them in the ground straight up and down to mimic tree trunks is a good start. The larger the gaps between branches will encourage gliding.

Also consider a network of climbing branches suspended from the top of the aviary. Think about where you place food, stainless steel food bowls hooked onto the wire can be moved around the cage, which will increase your Gliders activity and stimulate them at the same time. Nest boxes should be provided as an alternative to a hollow log, simply because they are usually easier to access, to clean and replace if necessary.

Ringtail Possum  -  Pseudocheirus peregrinus

The Common ringtail possum is a species known to many on the East Coast of Australia, mainly for eating roses or newly planted gardens.  Not many people realise how delightful this species can be in a captive environment.  Compared to the more popular Sugar Glider  - many keepers find Ringtail possum the “easier” of the two species.

Housing  -   DSE minimum enclosure size 5sq metres at 3 metres high for 2 animals with 1sq metre increased floor area for each additional animal. Enclosure sizes from, Jackson are 2.8L x 2.8W x 3H(M) space for each additional animal 2.0L x 2.0W(M). When furnishing the enclosure make sure feeding areas and nest boxes are protected from the weather. Make a base structure of furnishings with vertical and horizontal branches at different heights in the aviary. Natural rope can also be used. Adding larger fresh branches in addition to browse always changes the environment, keeps the animals active and provides the possums with new materials to build their nests with. For “nest boxes” you could use a nest box, hollow log, or possum ball. Do not remove logs from the wild the wild animals need them more. Nest boxes are easily replaceable and easier to clean and maintain. Consider providing two nest boxes at all times, the possums favour one but will alternate from night to night.

Ringtail Possum

Sugar Glider

Squirrel Glider

The Squirrel Glider has no sub-species. Their range is on the east coast of Australia from central Cape York peninsula thought to western Victoria, with a small pocket near Border town, South Australia, this species being more common in the more northern parts of its range becoming less common to the south. The Squirrel Glider is visually similar to the Sugar Glider. Head and body length 180-230 mm, tail length 220-300 mm and weight 190- 300g. In the wild life span 4-6 years and 5-8 in captivity. You require an Advanced License to keep this species in Victoria. The Squirrel Glider has been know to hybridise with the Sugar Glider. It is recommended that Sugar Gliders and Squirrel Gliders are not housed together.

Feathertail Glider

The Feather-tail Glider is the worlds smallest gliding mammal. There are no sub-species. They occur widely along the east coast of Australia into South Australia also occurring on Fraser Island. Head and body length 65-80 mm, tail length 70-80 mm and weight 10-15g. The Feather-tail Glider lives up to 5 years in the wild and in captivity. You require an Advanced License to keep this species in Victoria.

Common Brushtail Possum

There are six sup-species of the Brushtail Possum in Australia. T.v. vulpecula in central and South eastern Australia. T.v. arnhemensis in the tropical northern Northern Territory and Western Australia. T.v. hypoleucus in south western Western Australia. T.v. eburacensis on Cape York. T.v. johnstonii central eastern Queensland on Atherton Tablelands. T.v. fuliginosus in Tasmania.  Head and body length 350-550 mm, tail length 250-400 mm. Weight males 1300-4500g and females 1200-3500g.  The Brushtail possum lives 10-11 years in the wild and 8-12 in captivity, with the oldest known animal lived to 17 years. You require a Basic License to keep this species in Victoria.

Under current licensing laws sub species are not recognised or required to be listed. Private keepers in Victoria are keeping T.v. vulpecula. T.v. fuliginosus is recognised as a sub-species by some keepers, but it is not common in private collections.

Nest boxes can be lined with fresh wood shavings or a similar bedding material. The more nest boxes that can be provided the better, two would be fine for a pair or a trio of Sugar Gliders. Sugar Gliders will make their own nest within the box. When they are provided with fresh browse and branches. The nest box size is 200 mm x 200 mm x 450 mm high. Entrance hole should be 40-50 mm in diameter. Housing Sugar Gliders with terrestrial species such as Brush-tailed bettongs has been done successfully, this is also dependant on the size of the enclosure. (Bettongs require 20sqm for 2 animals).

Health - Nutritional osteodystrophy - know as hind limb paralysis can be common in captive sugar gliders. It seems to be cause by a calcium deficient diet. Adding calcium to the diet can be done by calcium dusting insects or gut loading insects with a high calcium diet. Ectoparasites - ticks and fleas, signs can be the animal grooming excessively. Routine examination of the fur may alert you to this early. Good hygiene always is a preventative to any disease. If possible quarantine new animals for a period before introducing them to individual or your colony. Endoparasites - do not normally affect gliders with good husbandry practices in place. Veterinary advice should be sought for diagnosis and treatment of intestinal worms. Toxoplasmosis - Toxoplamasma gondii, is a protozoan parasite it needs to be ingested via cat faeces. Prevent animals having access to cats and cat faecal material. Keep cats from accessing food storage areas and equipment areas. Good husbandry and hygiene practises are very important to prevent all possible causes of disease. For information on diet. Breeding & introductions.  Next box sizes & aviary design logon to the Members area.

Health  -  As with any species good husbandry practices, clean enclosures, properly fed animals and enclosures not being over crowded, prevent the majority of disease and health issues.  The basics to look for in Ringtails is ectoparasites (fleas, mites) endoparasites (worms).  Protozoans (toxoplasmosis).  For more in depth health information refer to Australian Mammals Biology and Captive Management by Stephen Jackson. For information on diet. Breeding & introductions.  Next box sizes & aviary design logon to the Members area.

The Feather-tail Glider Acrobates pygmaeus is the smallest gliding mammal in the world.  This species is wide spread in cool-temperature and tropical eucalypt forests with its distribution extending from north QLD down the eastern Australian Coast though into south eastern South Australia.  In the wild it needs a high diversity of trees and shrubs that provide all year round nectar.  The Feather-tail glider is rarely seen in the wild due to its small size being 10– 14g.

They are predated by foxes, currawongs, kookaburras, some reptiles, owl species and ghost bats.  Breeding will occur from July to January with females usually producing two litters within this time.  The second litter is conceived at a post-partum oestrus and undergoes a period of genetic diapause.  Young spend 9 weeks in the pouch. Young are weaned at approximately 100 days.  Females can breed in their first year, males become sexually mature in their second year.  This species is promiscuous. Breeding success is common when a keeper provides plentiful climbing surfaces, food and shelter requirements including nectar and insects.  It is extremely important to keep this species in a large social group.  The combination of factors is believed to lead to relative ease in breeding.  Species kept without this combination have not bred in captivity. For information on diet. Breeding & introductions.  Next box sizes & aviary design logon to the Members area.

Feather-tail Glider - Acrobates pygmaeus

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