Injured baby glider finds new mum

By AG Staff Writer 29 July 2016
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A tiny yellow-bellied glider has found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo after surviving a collision with a barbed-wire fence.

A 10-WEEK OLD female yellow-bellied glider is being cared for by a ‘surrogate mum’ vet nurse at Taronga Zoo after the joey and her mother became entangled in a barbed-wire fence on the New South Wales Central Coast.

The mother, with the joey still inside her pouch, was rescued by WIRES and brought to the Taronga Wildlife Hospital earlier this month. She had been found with several injuries including a major tear in her gliding membrane, and she had stopped producing milk.

Now, Taronga vet nurse Felicity Evans is providing round-the-clock care to the baby glider, including carrying a makeshift pouch and feeding her six times a day from a dessert spoon.

yellow bellied glider joey

Taronga vet nurse Felicity Evans feeding the 10-week-old glider. (Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo)

“She gets really excited about food and can be quite a messy eater,” said Felicity. “She’ll grab hold of the spoon and pull it down so she ends up with milk all over her paws and stomach. I have to carefully clean her fur afterwards and wipe off her little milk moustache.”

The yet-to-be named joey has shown remarkable recovery in the past two weeks, growing from 48g to 80g. The joey will remain in Felicity’s care for another few months as she continues to grow and transition to solid foods such as fruit and fly pupae.

Mum is also being looked after at Taronga, including receiving antibiotics and treatment for her wounds, however she will not be able to be released back into the wild due to the extent of her injuries. She will remain in care at Taronga Zoo as an ambassador for her species.

yellow bellied glider joey

“I have to carefully clean her fur [after eating] and wipe off her little milk moustache,” says ‘surrogate mum’ Felicity. (Image: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo)

“Mum is eating well and healing nicely. Her range of movement is restricted, but she’s working out what she can and can’t do and getting better with practice,” said Felicity.

Also known as fluffy gliders for their remarkably soft fur, yellow-bellied gliders can glide up to 140m in a single leap. They are listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss, but can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, such as in Bouddi National Park.