Urban Squirrel Gliders get new homes

Thurgoona Men’s Shed, just outside of Albury NSW, is like many other men’s sheds across Australia creating a place for men to learn new skills, contribute to the local community and socialise. Established in October 2012, the Men’s Shed has undertaken a number of projects for local organisations in need, few would have predicted, however, that the group would turn their attention to providing homes for squirrel gliders.

Sam Niedra, facilitator of the GER Slopes to Summit (S2S) partnership, says the project follows on from 25 nest boxes made for the Albury Conservation Company as part of a squirrel glider project at Lake Hume undertaken by the Thurgoona Woolshed Landcare Group.

Thurgoona Nestbox Project Thurgoona Nestbox Project Thurgoona Nestbox Project Thurgoona Nestbox Project Thurgoona Nestbox Project

“One hundred squirrel glider nest boxes have been constructed and are starting to go up in backyards of residential and small rural properties in Thurgoona and Splitters Creek on the outskirts of Albury, following a public expressions of interest process,” Sam says.

“More will be installed over the next six weeks by Parklands Albury Wodonga at properties that meet a number of criteria relating to squirrel gliders. For example, the property must have a tree of sufficient size to support a nest box, be within gliding distance of other mature trees, particularly Eucalypts, and in close proximity to where squirrel gliders have been recorded as occurring in the past,” Sam says.

The specially designed nest boxes will compliment tree hollows, the preferred but diminished habitat of the Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis). Squirrel gliders typically inhabit mature or old growth Box-Ironbark woodlands and River Red Gum forest west of the Great Dividing Range and Blackbutt-Bloodwood forest with heath understorey in coastal areas. They prefer a mix of species with a shrub or Acacia mid-storey to sustain a seasonal diet of Acacia gum, eucalypt sap, nectar, honeydew and manna, with invertebrates and pollen eaten on occasion for protein. Living in family groups, the Squirrel Glider needs abundant tree hollows for refuge and nest sites, however, habitat loss has meant that nesting and shelter are fewer and the species is now listed as a threatened in NSW.

“Thurgoona is very fortunate to have a significant population of squirrel gliders and maintaining a viable population is a key focus of the Albury Conservation Company who are managing the nest box project on behalf of the S2S partnership.

“It’s really great to have Thurgoona Men’s Shed on board with this exciting community project,” says Sam.

The Squirrel Glider nest box program is part of the S2S Partnership’s ‘BioBlitz, Big Trees, and Boxes Project – connecting communities with biodiversity across southern NSW’ project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust through the GER Grants Program.

Have you ever seen a Squirrel Glider in full flight? check out this footage.