THIS tiny sugar glider may be hanging on for sheer luck to the trunk of this tree, but it relies on more than just that when it comes to stormy weather.
New research from the University of New England has found the little marsupial survives strong winds and unpredictable weather by going into a deep hibernation, otherwise know as torpor.
The research was conducted by the UNE School of Zoology and involved researchers trapping the sugar gliders and then tagging them with radio trackers for up to 43 days.
Dr Julia Nowack said the research provided the first data on animal activity during weather similar to a category 1 cyclone.
“Although animals disappear mysteriously during storms and re-appear after the storm has passed it is not known what they do during the storm to survive,” she said.
The study looked at the sugar gliders in a subtropical habitat and found they would be inactive during the cyclone activity.
“All animals survived the storm and reverted to normal foraging activity the following night,” Dr Nowack said.
Entering into a state of torpor comes in great use as the sugar glider is vulnerable to storms, with its gliding movement greatly impacted by high wind speeds, and rain reducing its main food source nectar.
Dr Nowack said the research was important given the rise of natural disasters in Australia.
“With climatic disasters increasingly affecting many parts of Australia and the world, we wanted to look at how animals responded to these challenges as there are few studies which show this,” she said.
Research has been published in the Nature Scientific Reports.
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