WIRES Mid-South Coast Branch received a phone call earlier this month about what was thought to be a brushtail possum joey that had fallen off her mother’s back in severe winds.
To their surprise the wildlife carers opening the box containing the rescued baby found not a brushtail possum but in fact a greater glider joey.
It is extremely unusual for these beautiful but endangered native to come into care.
While the joey is healthy and likely to be released back into the wild, the future of the species remains dim.
The greater glider breeds but once a year, and right now, the glider joeys are taking their first steps from the pouch and daring to ride on their mothers back.
The nocturnal gliding animal feeds high in the treetops of specific eucalypts and spends its day denning in hollowed trees.
“Coming across a greater glider joey like this around Eurobodalla is very rare,” said Leiha Thompson, WIRES volunteer.
“First examinations reveal it is approximately 4-5months old, weighs 170 grams and is in good health.”
The joey is likely to have either fallen off its mothers back or been orphaned.
In 2007, a scientific committee established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act determined to list the population of the greater glider in Eurobodalla as endangered.
The species lives within a 6,000 hectare area bounded by the Moruya River, Coila Lake and the Princes Highway. These barriers have isolated the population.
Greater glider females have a small home range of 1-3 hectares.
“While we have scouted hollows in the surrounding area, we have not been able to come across a potential parent,” Ms Thompson said.
“This joey would have spent another few months on its mum’s back before gaining enough confidence to survive independently of her.
“We expect to release this joey back into the wild after it’s demonstrated it will survive and has adjusted from milk to its natural diet of eucalypt leaves and buds.
“While there is a bright future for this joey, it doesn't detract from the harsh reality of the species being able to survive in the area due to a limited and diminishing habitat which impacts genetic diversity within the species.
“WIRES would like to thank the owner of the land where this joey was found.
“Without their cooperation in allowing us to scout the land for hollows and natural food sources, we would not have been able to act in the best interests of this animal,” Ms Thompson said.
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