Spot the squirrel glider

If you play hide-and-seek with a Squirrel Glider, You will lose.

Last night I went on a spotlighting expedition with the Riverina Local Land Services to benchmark the occurrence of squirrel gliders in the Pulleytop area (where??? about 30mins from Holbrook). This is week 2 of surveys in the area. We are surveying along 4 transects: 1 in the Livingstone National Park, 1 in Nest Hill Reserve and along 2 creeks in 2 separate private farms. Last night we saw a whole heap of brush tail possums, ringtail possums, barn owls, tawny frog mouth, a pretty cool gecko (yet to be identified) and cockatoos…lots of cockatoos! Alas – no squirrel gliders…But we know they are around because a spotlighter, with a keen eye, spotted a squirrel glider in one of the private farms last week.

Squirrel gliders prefer open forests and woodlands and vegetation fringing waterways. They like Yellow Box, White Box, Grey Box, Mugga Ironbark, River Red Gum, Blakeleys Red Gum, Apple Box, Silver Wattle, Golden Wattle – geez, what don’t they like I hear you say! The most important thing to remember is that they feed on flowering trees and insects and birds (that also feed on flowering trees). Therefore a good diversity of plants that flower at different times throughout the year is necessary to provide a year-round food supply. They live in cup-shaped, leaf-lined nests in tree hollows (dens). They sleep in these hollows during the day and emerge at night to hunt for food. If you have these types of habitat on your property, grab a torch one night and go check for yourself. Oh and don’t forget to tell us if you see the elusive squirrel glider.

Squirrel gliders are considered vulnerable in New South Wales (NSW) however; the Wagga Wagga local government area (LGA) population is considered endangered. The local population is small and isolated.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If you have squirrel glider habitat on your property, there are several ways you can help to improve foraging and nesting sites:

  • keep existing vegetation on your property, especially hollow-bearing trees
  • revegetate areas with a mixture of native species to allow for hollow-bearing and feed trees in the future
  • allow natural regeneration to occur
  • keep paddock trees on your property, they act as great stop-over points between sparse vegetation
  • add shrub and understory layers to existing vegetation where appropriate.
  • install nest boxes if you don’t have hollow-bearing trees.

Oh and did I mention….. there is funding available, through Riverina LLS and Environmental Trust, for farmers in the Pulleytop region to do all of the above. If you live between Nest Hill Reserve and Livingstone National Park, get in touch with Leanna Moerkerken at leanna.moerkerken@lls.nsw.gov.au for more details. There is also funding for the construction of nest boxes through Murrumbidgee Landcare Inc. Get in touch with Maddy Gorham at mgorham@mli.org.au for more details.

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