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Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • No systematic scientific estimates
  • “Locally common over much of its range” (Salas et al. 2016)
    • More common in mainland Australia and New Guinea compared to other islands in its distribution range (Nowak 2018a)
  • Population trend
    • Likely stable (Suckling 2008; Jackson 2015a)
    • “[Populations] probably the most secure of all the Australian gliders” (Lindenmayer 2002)

Population structure

  • High genetic diversity in mainland Australia (Malekian et al. 2010)
    • Australia: 2 divergent clades
    • New Guinea: 5 divergent clades
  • Introduced to Tasmania
    • Population originated from a small number of individuals from southern Australian (most likely Victoria) (Campbell et al. 2018)
      • Zero genetic diversity

Conservation Status

IUCN

  • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (Salas et al. 2016)
    • Wide distribution
    • Large population
    • Occurs in protected areas
    • No major threats
  • Previous assessments (Salas et al. 2016)
    • 2008: Least Concern
    • 1996: Lower risk/least concern

CITES

  • Not listed (as of Feb 2019) (UNEP 2019)

Government laws and regulations

Threats to Survival

General

  • No major threats (Salas et al. 2016)
  • Sugar gliders can tolerate a broad range of habitats, including degraded ones (Jackson 2015a)
    • Depend on old trees with hollows for nesting (Nowak 2018a)
    • Populations may become isolated where fragmented forests impede dispersal (Jackson 2015b; Malekian et al. 2015)
      • Must be able to jump from tree to tree

Habitat loss

  • Deforestation
    • Land cleared for agriculture (Jackson 2015a)
      • Tree hollows destroyed
      • Forest habitat fragmented
  • Wildfires
    • Forest habitat lost (Jackson 2015a)
  • Light pollution
    • Exposure to light at night may impact nighttime activity patterns (Barber-Meyer 2007)

Accidental death

  • Entanglement in barbed wire fencing (Council 2010)
  • Drowning (if trapped in a body of water and cannot climb out) (Johnson 2011)

Management Actions

Protection

  • Conservation of important glider habitat (McKay 1989)

Habitat connectivity

  • Particularly important in agricultural areas (Downes et al. 1997; Suckling 2008)
  • Strips of forest habitat along roadways allow dispersal (Suckling 1984)
  • Poles and rope bridges can help gliders cross over roads and gaps between fragmented forest patches (e.g., cross roads) (Jackson 2015b; Goldingay et al., in press)
    • Enable dispersal and a larger foraging range

Reintroduction

  • Successfully reintroduced to restored forest in southern Victoria (Suckling 2008)
  • Require nest boxes where there are few natural tree hollows (Suckling 2008; Council 2010; Goldingay et al. 2015, 2018)
    • Alternative cavities may also be effective (e.g., Rueegger 2017)

Bird predation in Tasmania

  • Sugar gliders in Tasmania prey heavily on birds, some of which are endangered species (Stojanovic et al. 2014; Campbell et al. 2018)

Conservation Groups

Treehouse

Sugar glider nestbox in tree, Victoria

Sugar gliders depend on tree hollows for nesting and breeding.

Nest boxes, as seen here, are used in Australia to connect habitat areas fragmented by wildfires.

Image credit: © Greenfleet Australia. Some rights reserved.

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