Taronga Zoo, located in Sydney, Australia, is celebrating the breeding success of 13 Feathertail Glider babies, adding to 20 babies born only months ago. Born in March, the new joeys have just emerged from their mothers’ pouches.
Joeys usually emerge from their mother’s pouch when they are about 63 days old. At this point, the pouch, with up to four joeys inside, is so big that the mother’s feet cannot touch the ground.
Feathertail Gliders are named after their long tail that is fringed with stiff hairs that resemble a feather. These tiny marsupials are only two to three inches long but can glide up to 90 feet from tree to tree. A flap of skin stretching from front to back legs acts like a parachute, while the tail serves as a rudder for steering. As adults they weigh .4 ounces – about the same as two US quarters.
Taronga Zoo Sydney is believed to be the first Zoo to ever successfully breed Feathertail Gliders, and in the last decade has seen the birth of up to 200 individuals.
With the help of fine skin ridges and tiny hairs on their feet, Feathertail Gliders are able to climb smooth surfaces, such as vertical panes of glass. Sweat helps the feet act like suction cups to aid in climbing.
Feathertail Gliders are probably common in much of eastern Australia, but few people see them due to their tiny size and nocturnal habits.
Not a lot is known about these tiny animals in the wild. While there appear to be no immediate major threats to this species in the short term, Feathertails may be locally threatened by habitat loss as well as predation by feral cats and foxes.
See more photos of the Gliders below.