The squirrel glider, the sally wattle and the tawny frogmouth

There are three protagonists in this story. Andrew (not one of them) has seen a squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) a few times over several nights in the trees (one big eucalypt, one wattle) near the house. It has a particular yapping call, not unlike a frog. I’ve not had the privilege of seeing this cutie yet.

Squirrel glider; photo by Brisbane City Council, Wikimedia Commons

Squirrel gliders are endemic to the east coast of Australia. The body can be up to 23 cm (9″) long and its tail up to 33 cm (13″) long.

I’d been wondering about the weeping resin on the sally wattle (Acacia melanoxylon, the second protagonist) near the house. It looks like it has been chewed and is bubbling at the top. Brown resin slides down from the ‘wound’.

 

Wikipedia says:

The squirrel glider eats mostly fruit and insects. It also feeds on tree sap, mainly eucalyptus or red bloodwood trees. In order to get the sap the squirrel glider will pierce the trunk of the tree causing sap to flow out of it. It also eats pollen, nectar, leaves, and bark. …

There is the clue – ‘sap’. The tree is a wattle, not a eucalypt – but note the ‘mainly’, so wattles are not excluded.

The third protagonist is the tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides), seen a couple of times in the sally wattle at the same time as the glider. Coincidence or waiting a chance to pounce?

Tawny frogmouth

Natural predators of the squirrel glider include dogs, cats, foxes and owls. The tawny is not an owl; however, the Australian Museum says:

The bulk of the tawny frogmouth’s diet is made up of nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails. Small mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds are also eaten. Most food is obtained by pouncing to the ground from a tree or other elevated perch.

So it’s possible that the sally wattle is a feeding tree for the glider, and that the frogmouth lurks nearby, hoping to make a meal of the glider.

The glider will make a den in the hollow tree and line it with leaves. Here it will sleep and usually lives in groups of one male, 2 females, and offspring.

So we’ve put up an artificial tree hollow in the big eucalypt in the hope that the glider can use it as a shelter.

Another mystery possibly solved!

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3 Responses to The squirrel glider, the sally wattle and the tawny frogmouth

  1. Prue Gargano says:

    Wish I’d seen that glider!

  2. Kath says:

    How good are those shots!

    • Joy Window says:

      Yes, there are some good pics on Wikimedia Commons, and the photographers who post there allow anyone to use their photos as long as there is acknowledgement. I wouldn’t want to blast a night creature’s eyes with a camera flash so am happy to use someone else’s photo.

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