They Fly Through The Trees With The Greatest Of Ease

The Blue Tigers are a common sight on Fraser this month
April/May has been a mixed bag for us in terms of the weather and wildlife that we have seen out and about on Fraser Island.  At the moment, guests heading across island to 75-Mile Beach can’t help but spot our migratory ‘Blue Tiger’ butterflies (Tirumala limniace - pictured left), which seem to be everywhere and are easily identified by their brown wings with baby blue spots.

Closer to our home base at Kingfisher Bay Resort, guests on our night walks over the past few weeks have been in for a treat as some of Fraser Island’s cutest marsupials – our Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps) – have made cameo appearances in the trees in and around Kingfisher Bay and, in particular, near our treetop villas.

The Sugar Glider (pictured below left) is a very small, but amazing little animal that makes their home in the tree tops and tree hollows in wet sclerophyll forests (that is, forests with an open canopy of tall eucalypts such as Rose Gum and Turpentine). Sugar Gliders are marsupials – that is they carry their young in a pouch called a marsupium – and, as the name suggests, have an amazing ability to jump and glide up to sixty metres.  It is this gliding ability which actually distinguishes them from the rest of the possum family.

Sacred Familiar's fabulous pic of a Glider in action
When marsupials are born, they are extremely underdeveloped and they crawl, using their barely formed limbs, into the mother’s pouch. New born Sugar Gliders are about the size of a jelly bean, and spend several months attached to the teat in the marsupium.  As they grow, they develop a furry, bushy tail and a black stripe that runs from the head down to the tail. Adult Gliders measure in at around 15-20 cm long.

Spotting them in the trees feeding on the nectar can initially be difficult - because they have a white belly that blends in very well with the white flowers – so it helps to have our Ranger ‘know how’ on hand.

DID YOU KNOW Gliders have a membrane of skin called a petagium that extends from the wrists to their ankles that enables them to jump and glide through the air as if they are paragliding or base-jumping?

The gliding part of this species’ behaviour is actually quite important for a number of reasons.   It’s energy efficient for them and saves them having to climb up and down trees and scamper between them.  It also protects them from predators that they could come into contact with on the ground like dingoes and pythons

Kingfisher Bay Resort Rangers to the rescue
As many of our regular readers know, Kingfisher Bay Resort was built to sit lightly on the land and allow Fraser’s wildlife to go about their daily business uninterrupted.

From time to time we need to step in and lend a hand with our furry neighbours, as was the case recently when a guest let us know a baby Glider was making some strange noises just underneath the Centre Complex building.

We promptly contacted a Certified Wildlife Carer and, following their expert instruction, rescued the little Gilder and popped in our Wildlife Rescue Box. Gliders normally feed on nectar and insects; however this baby did not have properly developed teeth and was unable to access its mother’s milk, we kept it fed on a diet of sugar water and fruit juice until we could relocate it to a care facility on the Fraser Coast mainland (see above pic).

As you can see, this little fella won the hearts of all our team as it eagerly lapped up drops of apple juice out of the dropper. However, as we could not give it the care that it needed here at the resort, we gave it to a wildlife carer in Hervey Bay to look after… and from all accounts he is healthy and ready to head back into the wild.

Stays tuned for next month’s update tree huggers and, for all those mad keen fisherman amongst us, catch Ranger Grant’s latest fishing update on our Life on Fraser blog.