Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Rosamond Gifford Zoo Makes History - Asian Elephant Delivers Miracle Twins

Visitors will be able to see the elephant twins at the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve Pachyderm Pavilion viewing windows daily from 11-11:30 a.m. and 2–2:30 p.m.

Feather Tail Glider

Acrobates pygmaeus

These tiny Australian marsupials are the smallest gliding mammal in the world, able to glide up to 70 feet. Their feather-like tail acts as a rudder during flight and serrated toe pads help them climb virtually any surface, including smooth-barked trees and even panes of glass.

Range & Habitat

The feather tail glider is found across much of the eastern and south-eastern parts of Australia, including Fraser Island off the southern coast of Queensland. It can live in a wide variety of habitats from tall open forests to woodlands, but usually prefers wet and old-growth forests to dry or regenerating areas.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Their population was stable when last assessed by IUCN in 2015.

Diet

In the wild: Pollen, nectar, seeds and insects

At the zoo: Fruit, nectar and insects

Life Span

In the wild: About 4 years
In human care: Up to 10 years

Fun Facts about the Feather Tail Glider

·         Feather tail gliders are related to possums. Their Latin name means “pygmy acrobat.” They are also nocturnal.

·         Feather tail gliders can “fly” in the same way as flying squirrels. They have a skin fold called the gliding membrane that stretches out when they spread their limbs. They will launch themselves from trees and use their membrane like a parachute to glide down, steering with their fringy tails.

·         They are marsupials, meaning females have a pouch where the babies finish developing. They are born after about 60 days at the size of half a grain of rice. They then spend about 9 weeks in their mother’s pouch.

·         Feather tail gliders are so small – about 3 inches long with a 3-inch tail -- that they have trouble staying warm. When it’s cold out or there is a shortage of food, they may enter a state called torpor, in which they slow their breathing, lower their body temperature and become unresponsive for short periods. This means that for short periods, their breathing slows down and the animal becomes unresponsive, the body temperature drops almost to that of its surroundings. This state is not to be mistaken for hibernation which is for much longer periods and is not known to occur in marsupials.

 

Sources

Animalia: Feather Tail Glider -- https://animalia.bio/feathertail-glider

WIRES Wildlife Rescue, Australia -- https://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-information/feathertail-gliders

The Australian Museum: Feather Tail Gliders -- https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/feathertail-glider/

Perth Zoo: Feather Tail Glider -- https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/animal/feathertail-glider

 

 

Updated December 16, 2021
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