With built-in parachutes, sugar gliders--marsupials from Australia and New Guinea-- can leap from a tree and glide, sometimes as far as half a football field! A flap of skin connects the front and back legs, allowing the sugar glider to jump from tree to tree with arms and legs outstretched, staying aloft thanks to the parachute-like membrane.
Sugar gliders, Petaurus breviceps, join "flying" squirrels and "flying lemurs" as the only living gliding mammals. While each appear somewhat similar with their built-in "parachutes," these three groups of gliders are more distantly related than you might guess. Sugar gliders are more closely related to kangaroos and koalas; whereas, squirrels are closer to flying lemurs. The similarities of the three types of gliders are due to convergent evolution--similar adaptations evolving independently in different groups.
The big eyes of sugar gliders help them see at night. Sugar gliders are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day. When they do sleep, sugar gliders do so communally, with up to seven animals nestled together in a tree hollow. They do not pair off to create a family. Instead, all of the females have babies after mating with one or more males.