The Cutest Flying Animals on Earth

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Image: bukisa

The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a marsupial native to the forests and rainforests of eastern and northern Australia, New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago. It was introduced to Tasmania and about 15 years ago to the United States. Sugar gliders are tree dwellers that live in colonies of 15 to 30 animals. During the day, these nocturnal animals rest in hollow trees, in nests lined with leaves.

Not surprisingly, the sugar glider gets its name from the fact that it has a sweet tooth: Apart from leafs, insects and small vertebrates, this omnivore loves to feed on the sweet sap of certain species of eucalyptus, acacia and gum trees.


Image: 7777shark

Here, see my wings!

The second part of its name stems from the fact that the sugar glider has a built-in parachute that allows it to glide through the air for up to 165 ft (50 m), which makes it look as if it is flying. Of course it’s not a real parachute but a thin flap of skin stretching from the arms to the legs, comparable to us attaching a cape to our wrists and ankles and gluing it to our spine (hey, don’t try this at home!). The sugar glider’s Latin names means “rope dancer (petaurus) with a short head (breviceps).”

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Weeee, here I come!

Being a tree dweller, the sugar glider uses its powerful hind legs to launch itself from one tall tree to glide to the next. Its long tail helps it to steer and stabilize itself before it lands on a branch on all fours.

Sugar gliders are small marsupials, only about 8 inches (20 cm) long from head to toe; double that if one counts the long tail. Adults weigh between 4 to 5.7 ounces (120-160 g). Their appearance is characterized by a blue-gray coat with a cream-coloured belly and a distinctive dark stripe running along their back.

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