There are 14 species of gliders and possums in Victoria including the previously covered critically endangered State fauna emblem – the Leadbeater’s Possum. They range in size from the large 4kg+ Common Brushtail Possum down to the rarely seen Little Pygmy Possum weighing in at around 8 grams! Suburban streets will give you the Common Ringtail and Brushtail Possum while larger suburban parks of any size will usually hold the most common of the gliders – the Sugar Glider.
Often a good sign that you are getting into Leadbeater’s Possum territory in the Central Highlands around Melbourne is the presence of the Bobuck (Mountain Brushtail Possum) which is distinguished from the Common Brushtail by its short rounded ears and thick steel grey coat which gives it a very solid appearance. The grunt of a Bobuck is a very common call in these forests.
At the other end of the possum size scale are the four Pygmy-possum species. The most widespread in Victoria is the Eastern Pygmy-possum which is patchily distributed over most of the eastern and central parts of the state – it is probably more common than is realised as it can be difficult to find spotlighting and is most often seen in targeted pitfall trap surveys. The heathland in Bunyip State Park is a good area close to Melbourne to look for these – LINK The Mountain Pygmy-possum is an endangered species restricted to small areas largely above the snow line in the Victorian and NSW high country. While it is range restricted, with a bit of research and effort it is possible to get sightings of these wonderful little creatures – LINK The other two species Western and Little are restricted to the far west of the state – areas like the Little Desert would be worth targeting for these species. I have been fortunate enough to see the Little Pygmy-possum in Tasmania but have not yet chased in Victoria. The Field Nats sometimes run survey weekends in these areas that would be worth tagging along to.
There are some 6 species of Glider in Victorian Forests with the Central Highlands being a good area with Sugar, Greater and Yellow-bellied all seen regularly on a spotlighting outing. The yapping of the Sugar Glider is a common sound and are even found in good numbers in some suburban parks and along the Yarra. Greater Gliders are largely silent but can be heard moving around the canopy as well as the thump as they land against a nearby trunk. The gurgling shrieks of the Yellow-bellied Glider are a familiar if somewhat disconcerting sound and seem to have a preference for somewhat drier forest than Greater Gliders. As for the two species of Feather-tailed Glider in Victoria I have recently found a colony out the back of Marysville in wet forest! Squirrel Gliders are now rare in Victoria and the best bet is to join a nestbox survey in the Lurg Hills or around Rushworth. I have recently had luck in road reserves around Euroa with a number of Squirrel Gliders seen.