G is for MAHOGANY GLIDER (Petaurus gracilis) Originally discovered in 1883.
The mahogany glider is nocturnal and was thought to be extinct for over 100 years until it was rediscovered in 1989; however throughout that time it had been confused with other gliders and possums. Nearly a month after the discovery in 1989 their habitat was cleared for banana plantations and another population wasn't found until 1991. Primary predators of the mahogany glider include various owls and the scrub python. This species of glider is endangered and is located in northern Queensland. Humans are the primary reason for destroying the habitat of the mahogany glider. It is notable that this species is silent.
Most mahogany gliders are found below 20m, however some have been found at altitudes of 120m. A variety of habitats have also been recorded ranging from swamps, to eucalypt woodlands and coastal ridges. Nests can be found in hollow trees. The adult mahogany gliders will nest alone or in pairs.
Average mahogany gliders weight about 320g; males tend to weigh more than females. The average length of this species is 600mm, including head and tail. This animal has a mahogany hue (hence the name of mahogany glider), with a lighter brown underbelly and a black stripe extending from the head to the end of the tail (see below). Large eyes, big hands/feet with claws, naked ears, and a pointy nose are present on the mahogany glider. The hands and feet are used to grab the limbs of trees. There is a membrane that connects each wrist to its corresponding heal and is used for gliding. They are able to glide for distances up to 140 metres.
Nectar, sap, honeydew and kino are among the preferred diet of the mahogany glider. Kino is a gum that the animal gets when it slashes the bark on a bloodwood tree, blue gum tree, or melaleuca trees. Tree blossoms and insects are also eaten. Pollen that gets on the fur of the glider while it feeds is dispersed as the animal glides. When hunting for food mahogany gliders will go alone to avoid the attention of predators.
Female mahogany gliders raise the young in up to twelve nests that are rotated seasonally. Breeding occurs at night, but little else is known about the mating habits of this animal. The average life span of this species is six years.