The name is Acrobates pygmaeus. It mean a pygmy acrobat, and they really are incredible acrobats in tall trees. There are three amazing facts about this animals.
- It’s got a feathery tail. The hair on the tail grow on the side so that they give an appearance of a bird’s feather. This is again a glimpse of convergent evolution( different creatures adapting to the environment in a similar way). The tail is used as a rudder, very much like birds, to change direction quickly and mid-flight.
- These small marsupials have the ability to go into torpor( reduce body temperature and heartbeat), the mammal equivalent to hibernation, when conditions become harsh. They are social creatures and curl up together 20 to 30 strong and just sleep off rough times as they arise.
- They have a sliding membrane, very much like flying squirrels and colugos, that extends from their armpits to their knee joints. They are 8 cms long but can glide as far as 30 meters along their habitat. That’s like a man gliding on his own for 750 meters!
These marvelous creatures are found all over Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and some parts of South Australia. The habitat is mostly tall trees and bushes that give cover. They weigh a tiny 12 gms and the fur is very soft all over their body for extra aerodynamics.
They have incredible frog-like feet, except that these are covered in tiny hair rather than webbing. They can breed at any time of the year and the baby lives in the mother’s pouch for about 60 days before it is weaned. The gliders do build nest that they re-purpose out of old bird’s nest. They need all the warmth they can get.
This animal is perfectly adapted to its habitat and is marked as least concern by the Red List.
Take a look at this lovely video for more details.