Yellow-bellied glider

© Josh Bowell

 The yellow-bellied glider is the largest (and loudest) of the four Petaurus gliders that occur in Australia. Two recognised subspecies occur patchily throughout the eucalypt forests of eastern Australia. The Wet Tropics subspecies, locally known as the ‘fluffy glider’, inhabits far north Queensland, whereas the southern subspecies is found south of Mackay, with a 400 km gap separating the two populations.

Quick facts

Yellow-bellied glider

Petaurus australis australis / Petaurus australis



    • Petaurus australis australis (southern subspecies) — Vulnerable
    • Petaurus australis (Wet Tropics subspecies) — Endangered



    • Petaurus australis australis (southern subspecies) — Vulnerable
    • Petaurus australis (Wet Tropics subspecies) — Endangered



How we help the yellow-bellied glider

In August 2020, Queensland Glider Network (QGN) project officers Josh Bowell and Sam Horton launched a dedicated Yellow-bellied Glider Project to research and document the distribution and occurrence of yellow-bellied gliders (Petaurus australis) and southern and central greater gliders (Petauroides volans) in South East Queensland. Read more about the project here

Yellow-bellied glider© Jasmine Zeleny

Did you know?

The yellow-bellied glider’s pointy lower incisors are used to notch trees and access eucalypt sap, leaving distinctive v-shaped incisions that indicate the presence of this species.

Yellow-bellied glider© Josh Bowell

Threats to the yellow-bellied glider

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation due to broadscale land clearing and timber-harvesting
  • Climate change-induced increase in the frequency
    and severity of bushfires
  • Predation by feral species, including cats, and foxes
  • Barbed wire fences


Home range

  • The yellow-bellied glider lives in family groups with up to six individuals in a group. The group typically consists of an adult male and female with a number of sub-adult offspring. The adult male and female may maintain a consistent monogamous pair over a number of years, and the probability of the male fathering the young in his groups has been shown genetically to be 80% in a South Australian population. Nevertheless, group composition can vary considerably to include multiple males, multiple females and even single-sex adult groups.
  • Group home ranges overlap little, and intruders are attacked, sometimes resulting in severe injuries or even death. Group home ranges can vary in area from 25 to 120 hectares, with estimated densities of gliders from 0.05 to 1.6 per hectare. Home range and density will depend largely on the resources available.


  • Yellow-bellied gliders are found down the east coast of mainland Australia from the Mount Windsor Tableland, west of Mossman in Far North Queensland, to the Victorian South Australian border.
  • In South East Queensland, the glider is widely dispersed but with a highly localised distribution, with possible disjunct populations in the Mackay and Carnarvon areas.
  • The most northerly population in Queensland occurs along the western edge of the Wet Tropics bioregion and is isolated by a gap of about 400 kilometres from the next population to the south on the Clarke Ranges inland from Mackay. The Wet Tropics population is divided into three distinct sub-populations.


  • Yellow-bellied gliders are greyish brown in body colour with a distinct black stripe down their back from the forehead to tail.
  • The gliding membrane (patagium) has a black margin and there is a black stripe down the outer side of the limbs to the paws. The membrane stretches from the fifth finger of the hand to the ankle, giving it a relatively large patagium to body ratio. It has a gliding trajectory of about 30 degrees to the horizontal and shows considerable manoeuvrability as it is capable of making 180 degree turns in mid-air.
  • Glides over 100 m are known, 90 to 100 metres are not exceptional and 40 to 60-metre swoops are common. Gliding enables the glider to cover great distances rapidly. In one 4-hour period a glider travelled two kilometres and they regularly move up to 500 m from their den tree to feed.
  • Belly colour is lighter and can vary from creamy white, the predominant colour in the most northerly population in Queensland, to yellowish-orange, particularly in older animals in more southerly populations. Hence its common name.
  • Ears are black and naked.


Most readily found by watching trees at night with fresh feeding incisions, often triangular or v-shaped, oozing sap on tree trunks.


The yellow-bellied glider is the most vocal of all gliders. Their loud calls can be heard from up to 500 metres away.

Ecology and behaviour


  • In South East Queensland, the glider’s habitat is dry sclerophyll open forest containing smooth-barked eucalypts that shred their bark in strips, which has a moderate rainfall (650-1200 mm). In the southeast, this species shows a clear preference for forest types dominated by gum-barked and winter flowering eucalypt species, which provide continuous exudate and invertebrate foraging opportunities. Yellow-bellied gliders tend to avoid wet sclerophyll forests and rainforest.
  • The Wet Tropics population is confined to a narrow band, 300 km long but no more than 5 km wide and usually less than 1 km wide with numerous gaps, of tall to very tall eucalypt open forest containing rose gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and red stringybark (Eucalyptus resinifera) above 600 m in altitude.


  • Births occur throughout the year in Queensland, with a peak in the winter months.
  • Females give birth to a single young annually with only one known record of twins. Young remain in the pouch for up to 100 days, are then transferred to a den where they remain for about 50 days before beginning independent foraging.
  • Individuals commence breeding when between 18 months and two years old.


The yellow-bellied glider is an insect, pollen and exudate feeder. They derive their protein from insects and pollen, and energy from nectar, honeydew, manna and tree sap.

  • A favourite hunting place for insects, particularly large crickets, is under the shredding bark of gum trees.
  • Pollen is mainly obtained from eucalypts, turpentine and banksia trees and the contents of the hard-shelled pollen grains digested.
  • Honeydew is secreted from sap-sucking bugs and is licked from branches by the gliders.
  • They also forage on the leaves of eucalypts for manna and lerps.
  • They obtain clear sweet tasting sap of eucalypts by making V-shaped incisions with their lower incisors into the trunk bark of a number of different species.
  • Sap is a resource available year-round, whereas nectar and insects are seasonal and at times scarce. Several tree species are tapped for sap.
  • In South East Queensland, 12 species of eucalypt are known — eight gums, three stringybarks and one bloodwood, plus one acacia for its gum. Up to three species at any one locality may be tapped, but usually, only one is used.
  • The red stringybark (Eucalyptus resinifera) is the only tree known to be tapped for its sap by the Wet Tropics population over its whole range.


Mitigation practices

  • Habitat management is of prime importance. In Far North Queensland, proactive management of habitat through planned fire strategies is paramount. Fire is required to prevent rainforest capture of the glider’s habitat but without causing the loss of large rose gum den trees. In southern Queensland, where much of the glider’s habitat is in spotted gum forest types that have high commercial timber values, management needs to mitigate the effects of logging, which reduces the average size of trees with a resulting decrease in nectar and insect food resources for the glider.
  • Where possible, populations that have become disjunct through habitat clearing need to be reconnected by the planting of tree corridors.
  • Limit the danger and fragmentation of habitat caused by the use of barbed wire fences and wide linear clearings for roads, power lines and fire breaks.
  • Use of nest boxes as a management tool for re-establishing populations of hole-denning of other glider species in areas where holes are scarce either because of their reduction through past management practices, or in newly planted habitat. While other species of Petaurus gliders are known to use nest boxes, the effectiveness of nest boxes for yellow-bellied gliders is yet to be established.

More information

Publications & papers

  • Beyer, G.L., and Goldingay, R.L. (2006). The value of nest boxes in the research and management of Australian hollow-using arboreal marsupials, Wildlife Research, 33, p 161–174.
  • Brown, M., S. M. Carthew and Cooper, S.J.B. (2007). Monogamy in an Australian arboreal marsupial, the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis). Australian Journal of Zoology 55(3): 185-195.
  • Brown, M., H. Cooksley, Carthew, S.M. and Cooper, S.J.B. (2006). ‘Conservation units and phylogeographic structure of an arboreal marsupial, the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis)’. Australian Journal of Zoology 54: 305–317.
  • Eyre, T. J. (2005). Hollow-bearing trees in large glider habitat in south-east Queensland, Australia:  Abundance, spatial distribution and management. Pacific Conservation Biology 11: 23–37.
  • Eyre, T. J. and Buck, R. G. (2005). The regional distribution of large gliding possums in southern Queensland, Australia. I. The yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis). Biological Conservation 125: 6586.
  • Eyre, T.J., and Goldingay, R.L. (2005). Characteristics of sap trees used by yellow-bellied gliders in southern Queensland, Wildlife Research, 32, p 23-35.
  • Goldingay, R.L., and Jackson, S.M. (2004). A review of the ecology of the Australian Petauridae, in The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders, Goldingay, R.L. and Jackson, S.M. (ed), Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton: 376-400.
  • Goldingay, R. L. and Quin, D. (2004). Components of the habitat of the yellow-bellied glider in north Queensland. In The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders. Goldingay, R.L. and Jackson, S.M. (ed), Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton: 369-375.
  • Harper, M.J., McCarthy, M.A., and van der Ree, R. (2005). The use of nest boxes in urban natural vegetation remnants by vertebrate fauna, Wildlife Research, 32, p 509-516.
  • Winter, J. W., Dillewaard, H. A. Williams, S.E. and Bolitho, E.E. (2004). Possums and gliders of north Queensland: distribution and conservation status. In The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders. R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson. Chipping Norton, Surrey Beatty & Sons: 26-50.

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