Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Feeding behaviour of the squirrel glider at Bungawalbin Nature Reserve, north-eastern New South Wales

D. J. Sharpe and R. L. Goldingay

Wildlife Research 25(3) 243 - 254
Published: 1998


The diet of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) was described by qualitative observations of feeding behaviour at a floristically rich site on the north coast of New South Wales. Twelve gliders from six groups were examined over a 10-month period. Flowering and bark-shedding data were also collected. Nectar and pollen were the most important food resources and accounted for 59% of all observations. Banksia integrifolia was the most important source of these foods, but eucalypts were used heavily when in flower and several other genera were also visited. Feeding on arthropods constituted 26% of all feeding observations. Arthropods were harvested in all months of the study from a variety of substrates. Feeding on arthropods was relatively unimportant in May and June when pollen ingestion was presumed to be high. Honeydew was used but was absent from the diet during winter. Acacia gum was obtained from two species in autumn and one, Acacia irrorata, was incised to promote gum production. Corymbia intermedia and Angophora woodsiana were incised for sap in autumn and winter. Sap flows resulting from insect (borer) damage on other species were also used. Fruit, Acacia seeds and arils, and lichens were consumed on a few occasions. The squirrel glider displayed seasonal trends in feeding behaviour that, in part, accorded with observed phenological patterns. The foods used by the squirrel glider during this study were similar to those previously reported for the genus. However, few studies have documented such a diversity of dietary items at one site. Management of the squirrel glider appears to require the maintenance of floristic diversity, and particularly the persistence of midstorey species.


© CSIRO 1998

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