This is not the damaged squirrel glider, but one that WIRES will be able to put back into the wild.
This is not the damaged squirrel glider, but one that WIRES will be able to put back into the wild. Contributed

Rare glider saved and in breeding program

A DISTRESSED glider was found entangled on a barbed wire fence in Lismore Shire and identified as a female juvenile Squirrel Glider, a threatened species.

She was rescued and taken to a veterinary hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

Gliders have a patagium, a gliding membrane that extends from the wrist to the ankle, so when the arms and legs are held out, it can volplane (glide) for up to 70 metres in a single flight. It is vitally important that the patagium remain intact as without it, a glider cannot survive in the wild.

The injuries in this case were so severe that the glider was left with almost no patagium. Under normal circumstances a glider with this amount of damage would be euthanised as it would be cruel to release it back into the wild to be preyed upon with no ability to get away.

In rare cases, an otherwise healthy animal that cannot be released back into the wild may be accepted into a breeding program at one of the zoos around Australia.

WIRES enquired and kept the glider in care for about eight weeks while she healed and waited to see if she would be accepted into a breeding program.

Compromised animals that are members of threatened species go on to a special list. If there is an appropriate place for them, then National Parks and Wildlife Service authorise them to go there.

For this lucky glider, there was a vacancy in a Squirrel Glider breeding program at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Australian zoos generally operate to capacity so there is simply not the space or the resources to put compromised animals into captive care. If there had been no room for this glider in a program, WIRES would have been ordered to euthanise her.

She is lucky to be alive, but we don't know how she feels about not being able to do the thing she was born to do...glide.

At least she may give birth to new gliders of this endangered species and make a priceless contribution to wildlife diversity efforts.

WIRES Northern Rivers wish to thank the many members of the public and the area veterinary clinics who helped us rescue and release so many wild creatures in 2016.