Successful breeding of the world's smallest gliders

Successful breeding of the world's smallest gliders

#Animals, #Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 02nd February 2018 by Media Relations

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the breeding success of more than 20 Feathertail Glider infants, one of the smallest mammals in the world.

Twelve different female adult Feathertail Glider’s fell pregnant at a similar time with the Joeys, they now care communally for one another’s young.

The emergence of the Joeys from their mother’s pouch typically occurs after around 63 days when the pouch usually gets so large that her feet cannot touch the ground.

Keepers can’t be sure exactly how many Joeys have been born as the speedy little gliders race around their exhibit gliding between branches, however they estimate to have spotted approximately 20.

The remarkable breeding success means the tiny gliders will become important ambassadors for their species, said Australian Fauna Keeper Rob Dockerill.

“We were the first Zoo to ever breed these tiny marsupials so it’s always exciting when such a large group like this is born,” said Keeper Rob.

 “When they’re born they’re only half the size of a grain of rice. The adults only weigh 13 grams and are about 7cm long,” he said.

 “We started breeding the gliders in 1988 and in only the past decade we’ve seen up to 200 joeys emerge,” he said.

Not a lot is known about the number of these tiny animals in the wild. While there appear to be no major threats to this species, gliders may be locally threatened by logging of forests as well as predation by feral cats and foxes.  

Keen-eyed guests can spot the Joeys with the 30 or so adult gliders scurrying around their home in the Australian Nightlife Exhibit.

“They’re great to watch racing around their exhibit because the microscopic hairs on their feet mean that they can run up glass, so there is always a lot of action happening in the Australian Nightlife Exhibit,” Keeper Rob said.

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