Taronga Zoo is celebrating the breeding success of more than twenty Feathertail Gliders, one of the smallest mammals in the world.
Twelve different female adult Feathertail Glider’s fell pregnant at a similar time with the joeys, and the mothers now communally care for one another’s young.
The emergence of the joeys from their mother’s pouch typically occurs around 63 days, when the pouch usually gets so large that mom’s feet cannot touch the ground.
Keepers at Taronga Zoo 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 twenty new offspring.
“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,” added 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.”
“We started breeding the Gliders in 1988, and in only the past decade, we’ve seen up to 200 joeys emerge,” he said.
The Feathertail Glider (Acrobates pygmaeus), also known as the Pygmy Gliding Possum or Pygmy Glider, is a species of marsupial native to eastern Australia. It is the world's smallest gliding mammal and is named for its long feather-shaped tail.
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 new joeys, with the 30 or so adult Gliders, scurrying around their home in the Zoo’s ‘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 concluded.