Vocal behaviour of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis)

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Publication details

Sharpe, D & Goldingay, RL 2009, 'Vocal behaviour of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis)', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 57, no 1, pp. 55-64.

The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO08075

Peer Reviewed



We describe the vocal behaviour of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) from 465h of observation across five sites in north-east New South Wales and south-east Queensland. A monosyllabic or polysyllabic nasal grunt was the most frequent call (56% of 208 calls); it ranged from single calls to sequences of up to 20-min duration (mean 2.1min0.6, s.e.) and was heard on 34% of nights (n ≤ 83) at two sites. The rate of the nasal grunt showed a positive relationship with population density at one site. The nasal grunt was typically made when conspecifics were near the caller, but responses were infrequent (7% of observations). Call playback produced no discernable change in call response. The nasal grunt appears to regulate individual spacing by facilitating mutual avoidance, a function hypothesised to be an evolutionary precursor to the use of calls in territorial defence. Threatening calls were the next most common vocalisation (17% of calls) and were accompanied by scuffles and/or chases. They were also used when gliders were preyed upon and during animal handling. The calling behaviour of the squirrel glider confirms the importance of vocal communication among petaurid gliders. © 2009 CSIRO.