One of Australia's most endangered and least known arboreal mammals
Compiled from observation notes & comments of Daryl Dickson & Geoff Moffatt [MG carers resident at release site]
[ NB Additional Observations notes and observations were recorded
by EPA Mark Parsons but are not included in this issue of the release diary ]
Location : Kennedy Valley, North Queensland, Australia [north west of Cardwell]
Stoney & Pan
- MG- adult female Pan - barbed wire injury to patagium April 3rd 2006Pan has denned alone in an enclosure 7mx4mx4m for 6mths [in captivity for 9mths at release]
- MG- male Stoney 3yr old captive bred [MG breeding prog, David Fleays Wildlife Park]
-  first wild release of a captive bred Mahogany Glider
-  first monitored release of a Mahogany Glider after patagium injury from barbed wire
Stoney arrived Oct 2006 Stoney had been flown from the David Fleay Wildlife Centre on the Gold Coast in south east Queensland to Townsville, then transported by road by EPA, Queensland Parks
& Wildlife senior ranger Mark Parsons to the Kennedy Valley soft release site. He travelled well, with minimal indication of stress. The introduction process commenced - Stoney spent 2 days in
isolation no visual or physical contact with our [female MG]Pan's enclosure but close enough that both animals seemed very aware of each others presence. Day 3 visual contact no adverse reactions
[appear to be very positive about company] Day 4 introduction Pan has been without a den mate and alone for 9months and Stoney has been captive denned with other male gliders all his life. Their
introduction and interaction was so very positive there was no doubt that the gliders were compatible and very happy to be in each others company.
Stoney & Pan remained in captivity for
3mths giving Stoney time to acclimatise and become familiar with his release environment, and be aware of Pan's wild reaction to predators in the area and to build strength in the larger enclosure. This
period allowed time to strengthen the pair bonding, mating to occur and young to be born.
Three dens have been present in the captive enclosure. All dens have been used.
day of release the two unoccupied dens were placed into the release area. The release area in approx 60m from the captive enclosure where bloodwoods are in bloom providing a ready supply of food. Grey-backed
cane beetles and other small beetles are also in good supply and have been made available in the captive diet both gliders have found them very palatable. The occupied den [the release den] was placed out
into the release area at dusk 15/01/07.
Dens were placed in an area 40m in diameter.
Both gliders are in good health Pan has pouch young - Radio collars fitted 5 days prior to
release. Pan's collar fitted with no difficulty. Stoney's collar fitted with extreme difficulty he is extremely sensitive to any handling around his neck. Release was delayed due to Stoney's collaring
reaction we were all concerned to ensure that the event and/or the collar would not cause any unforseen complications. He stayed in his captive den for 24hrs then emerged and appeared a little subdued but
moving and feeding reasonably normally, after 5 days obs. we proceeded with release.
-Tropical North Queensland Wet Season seasonal conditions extreme humidity afternoon / evening rain
less than ideal Mahogany Glider habitat remnant woodland [bloodwood/acacia/eucalypt] vine thicket, riparian rainforest species, grasstrees MG's have been observed intermittently in this area over the last 10 years.
Release Day  15th January 2007 No moon dark
Obs 2000 to 0130 at 10min intervals
Stoney emerged about 2000 and was
observed moving thru the canopy. Pan remained in the release den. Sugar gliders and flying foxes present in the area. Stoney was observed making some tentative initial jumps and short hops, spending the
majority of time in the upper canopy. He ventured down to within 2m of ground and was observed to pass the trunk of the tree where the feed station was placed below the release den. At the end of the
observation period Stoney was within 30m of release den. Pan still in release den at 01.30.
Release Day  16th January 2007 Overcast, very light rain
0700 Pan's [transmitter] located at release den
0700 0800 Stoney located 100m NW of release den, out in the open, under foliage in rainforest tree, about 12m off ground. Not in a
retrievable situation. A small spare den, which had been present in their enclosure, was placed in an adjacent tree with a feed station, in the hope that he might take shelter there for the day. Visual obs
continued throughout the day. The day became hot and clear. Raptors were observed in the area. 1415 Stoney observed sleeping. Stoney remained in the canopy and made no attempt to move to the den or to access
the temp feed station.
1930 dark Stoney still in RF tree, same position; he is awake but inactive. Pan still in den.
2120 Pan still in den
2120 Stoney now moving back towards his release den but spends time foraging in flowering bloodwoods [doesn't reach the area of his release den until 23.00]. Foraging confirmed by showers of blossom
beneath the trees. Stoney having difficulty gliding, particularly in braking and gripping. We observed at least five falls down to ground level, most occurring as he approached his release den. He is
exhibiting a lot of effort in working out how to cross between trees through the canopy. He is avoiding ground contact and is, wisely, unwilling to travel along the ground. [He descends to within 2m of
ground and then returns to a safer height.] He seems intent on finding a way to return to the den but is having great difficulty in working out how. He spent over an hour within a 15m radius around the den
tree, continually trying to find a route to the tree and trying to cross toward it repeatedly. On one occasion launching from about 9m height, gliding 6m across toward the den tree, but failed to grip on
landing and landed heavily on the ground, From there he appeared to pick up Pan's scent, particularly at a natural, vertical pipe hollow that Pan had visited and scent marked earlier this evening.
21.45 Pan emerged from den & seen in upper canopy [Stoney still on his way back] No direct interaction between Stoney & Pan observed although they came within close proximity of each
other. Stoney gave a short sharp bark while in close proximity to Pan so can only assume that they were aware of each other.
Initial observation summary
Stoney's lack of gliding ability is logically a result of his captive background. Instinct seems to tell him what he has to do but his landing skills will take time to develop. He demonstrates a determination to understand his situation and to resolve the puzzle of crossing the area adjacent to his target [his release den]. He is exploring all branch options along the tree trunk and he has been observed utilising thicker vegetation [ferns, vines, & RF trees] He is also scaling to the top of canopy trees [bloodwoods & acacias]. This is clearly not what a wild origin glider would do under normal circumstances and certainly not what Pan is doing at present.
Stoney's landings are awkward and uncertain; we can only hope that this will improve with experience and as he gains confidence. Stoney's short jumps and hops of 3-4m seem fine.
Pre-release conditioning [TJ] has assisted in preliminary conditioning. This has been continued on arrival in the north with the enclosure providing vertical launch and landing opportunity. Stoney's
longer glides involving braking and landing at speed place him at greatest risk. At this stage we have not confirmed his ability to "steer" and this may also be limiting his ability to manoeuvre and
brake for landing. As gliders lose most of their height from launch we would require a significantly larger enclosure to allow captive gliders to gain experience of extended glides. It certainly seems
that the incentive of having a close bond with his den partner carrying pouch young has contributed to Stoney's determination to return to the release den site despite his repeated failed attempts.
Release Day  17th January 2007
0700 Pan in release den Stoney in upper third of natural hollow [vertical pipe den] within 30m from release den.
Feed station checked - some food taken
2210 Stoney now in release den has made it home! Rain easing
2245 rain stopped but both gliders remain in den
Release Day  18th Jauary 2007
0800 Pan & Stoney both in release den
Feed station checked all slurry taken & ½ fruit mix
Observations continued nightly
Pan appears to have just "returned to her wild life" new habitat but all the standard instincts remain 9months in captivity have not affected her behaviour. Her patagium appears to be adequately
recovered to allow her to move through her release habitat. She appears fit active, very alert and cautious.
24th January Pan's first extended glide [10m] glide was observed.
Stoney is slowly improving his abilities has had his first encounters and interaction with flying
foxes, has chased sugar gliders from "his" feed station and interacted with another Mahogany glider within his range: vocalising, and aggressively chasing it.
January Pan's transmitter signal continually in den but glider with distinctive V notch in patagium [Pan's distinctive ID marking from injury] sighted at feed station. It would appear she has managed
to slip her collar. Will have to rely on visual obs from now on.
Torrential Rain Rivers in flood obs limited but both gliders still in the release area
February Flying foxes feeding in canopy sugar gliders at feed station Stoney is choosing to feed in the canopy rather than utilize the feed station.
Rufous Owl calling
Stoney observed breaking open an occupied green ant nest obviously finding a food source he persisted despite his discomfort then proceeded to an adjacent ant nest to continue foraging. [as far as we are aware this is not a behaviour that Pan has demonstrated but it has been Stoney's own initiative]
12 February Stoney observed completing short glide and landing soundly.
Swamp Mahogany in bloom foreign MG near feed station, Pan present but showed no reaction to glider, she observed it glide and land in an adjacent tree then continued grooming. The new glider is definitely MG but very unusual colour, very dark, large ears,fine profile, small animal with no cream trim on patagium, no scent gland visible assume female.
1st 3rd March
1600 observed a foot a the entry of a small wooden den, previously occupied by Sugar Gliders until a goanna attacked the box. Den was observed for 30min an MG could be seen high up in the box giving the impression that the small box held more than one glider. No way of knowing why they had moved dens or why they would choose a small exposed den.
Confused reports of what appeared to be a third glider occupying box with Stoney & poss Pan. Stoney reported to vocalise [gurgle] while sitting on top of box . Still unsure of third glider
seems very unlikely that it is new glider although there is at least one other glider in the area. It takes several days to work out what is going on. The regular appearance of a nose or noses at den
opening now indicates that the unusual occupant/s are den young much further advanced than expected [DD]
Pan & Stoney at feed station, lots of interaction, contact "clicking". Pan glides
20m-full extension looks great! Stoney completes 10m glide and good but noisey landing. Stoney is scent marking and both gliders are moving thru canopy together. Striped Possum present in area. Gliders are
feeding well. Pan feeding quickly at the feed station and returning to den, Stoney more inclined to forage before going to the feed station.
4th March 2000 cool calm overcast
Stoney is in small den small nose at den opening. Glider observed in bloodwood above den. Stoney emerges and sits on top of den pees on den. Vocalisation heard from a glider in bloodwood
close by. Stoney takes an aggressive posture and vocalising then makes a soft clicking sound to den young then re-enters den. Striped Possum observed in the area.
5th March -
"Stoney has joined the "big boys" club observed him glide 15m-20m
The glide was right into the top of the canopy of the land tree so a tricky launch and landing it looked like the
work of a polished glider. It appear to have taken him only 6 weeks to adjust, he is moving freely which is a stark contrast to his earlier efforts." MP
"Agreed he is much improved but still
very much noisier in the canopy than the very silent Pan he will no doubt master this in weeks to come" DD
6th March -
2030 warm,calm late moon rise day has been very hot
A face sighted at the small den Pan left small den Stoney still in small den Pan goes to feed station feeds, grooms in tree above then
returns briefly to den, looks in and leaves. Another MG is present in a tree adjacent to the den but no interaction takes place. Pan returns to den again & encourages one of the young out soft clicking
sound, she enters the den, then comes back out leaving her tail over the den opening, allowing the young to use her tail to climb up onto her back. Pan then moves to the top of her den tree and launches into
a 4m glide with young on her back, she failed to land soundly and the young glider bounces off her back, falling into a golden orchid below. The young glider remained in the orchid and Pan after sighting the
fallen young, returned to the small den to repeat the operation with the second of her den young. The second youngster failed to hang on tight enough when climbing out of the den and fell to the ground. It
instinctually knew that it should climb the tree but unfortunately we had placed a metal sheath, as goanna protection, around the base of the tree. The fallen young could not climb back to Pan and Pan could
not get down to her young. DD picked the young up and placed it above the metal sheath Pan was descending. The young fell again, Pan was extremely agitated and Stoney was now posturing aggressively and
descending the tree towards MP. DD picked the fallen young up again and placed it on Pan's back, Pan ascended the tree but Stoney had now launched himself at MP, attaching himself to Mark who managed to move
close enough to the tree to allow Stoney to return to Pan & the young. Meanwhile the first of the young that had been hiding in the orchid had become frightened and climbed the bloodwood and was out of
sight. Stoney returned to the top of the den, the young then climbed on his back and Stoney using short jumps and glides moved across to the original release den tree. Both young were next sighted higher up
in this tree and Pan was ascending to join them. Stoney went off to the feed station. The young were then seen descending and entering the release den. Stoney returned to join them in the den. Pan returned
to the small den on 2 occasions decending close to the ground below the den, checking inside and peeing on it before returning to the release den. It would appear to confirm that Mahogany Gliders can glide
with one young on their backs but it appears to be an extremely risky process. In this case we are unsure why the parent gliders moved the young into a den that was not only too small [particularly too
shallow] for them but also too hot for them during the day. It might be assumed that this would possibly only be undertaken when a home den is perhaps threatened in some way.
March 0800 all food taken from feed station last night
2000 warm, calm occasional shower
Glider vocalising in canopy of release den bloodwood assume Pan extended
period of vocalisation very unusual. Pan called for about 5min. Rufous Owl started calling very close to Pan Rufous Owl located approx 10m from release den, it continued calling for 20min Stoney
remains at the release den entrance, Pan in canopy of release den bloodwood keeping watch Pan eventually descends tree passes den to come along a branch towards me to investigate me as a possible threat.
She appears to be very actively defending her den. Pan returns to den
8th 10th March Dark nights hot humid overcast electrical storms very late moon rise
very little activity little food taken gliders may have been emerging very late with moon but no obs.
11th March - Showers cool no moon
Stoney observed returning to den juv at den opening Stoney very cautious and alert on approach to den. He checks below the den, circled the tree below & above den before entering making soft
vocalisations to the young.
12th 18th March showery cool S Glider feeding on fruit of Ivory Basswood Flying foxes active few Mg sightings note records
that Pan is so very silent in the canopy and Stoney still hasn't mastered stealthy landings.
20th 24th March - Pan & Stoney both feeding in the canopy
& accessing feed station. Both extremely alert & cautious coming down to within 1m of ground at feed station to check the area before feeding faces at the den when both Pan & Stoney are out
& about. The young show no sign of venturing out yet. Rufous Owl heard calling 22/03 & 25/03. Flying Foxes & Sugar Gliders still present in area. Goannas are about during the day.
26th March 1100 Very large goanna showing interest in release den tree. And climbs den tree. Pan exits den first followed by Stoney both move to the canopy and remain there. No sign
of young goanna too large to enter den and does not follow the gliders up the tree. Goanna leaves but Stoney & Pan remain in the canopy until dark whenthey descend and re-enter den. 1900 Pan out early
descends to within 500mm of ground, vocalising as she returns to den, one young exits den climbs on Pans back and Pan re-enters the den with young. Stoney then exits the den and descends the tree, checking
the base of the tree and around the den before re-entering the den.
27th March - 8th April having
difficulty with Stoney's transmitter signal 7/04 Rufous Owl calling 8/4 Rufous Owl calling.
10th April 1800-2030 Stoney not sighted since 30 March advised
Mp of concern. MP spots our missing Stoney in top of den tree, collar is still on but no signal. Observed intermittently for 2hrs. 2330 Mg vocalising in swamp mahogany above house called for 5-10min no
collar visible assume Pan Rufous Owl calling.
11th April Pan observed at feed station, left feed station and went to release den first observed activity in 8 days
no vocalisation on entering den. Rufous Owl Calling.
20th April MG calling [Rufous owl warning call] no owl spotted on this occasion but the call is consistent with
Pan's now repeated response to the presence of Rufous.
29th April Approaching full moon- Pan & Stoney at feed station, both in good condition. Stoney's scent gland
very evident. Lots of interaction, contact - grooming each other. No sign of young-den location unknown. They are not using any of the artificial dens.
Infrequent sightings only observed 12th & 15th Stoney in canopy 12th & Pan at feed station 15th.
May Wet Dark 1910
Stoney turned up in the kitchen Odd behaviour offered food and coaxed onto scales weight very low 326g. Collar still in place, we took this opportunity to remove his collar [no fuss]. On removal it was obvious there was a problem. Removal revealed a large wound where the screw affixing the collar has gouged a hole in his neck. A large wound has developed and the skin has grown over the collar very nasty. This we assume will be the cause of the weight loss. We treated the wound with antiseptic cream & powder and made a decision not to restrain him and to leave him free rather than bring him back in as there did not appear to be infection present, apart from the wound and weight loss he seemed in fair condition. With hindsight, we think that he had possibly been visiting the house for about 10days. We had assumed that the activity on the veranda at night had been a White-tailed Rat but both of us had though the activity a bit odd. We now think that in the absence of any blossom he has sort out his old food source "people" We think he may have been foraging in the kitchen fruit scraps and the wallaby food his human imprint !
We took photos to send to vet to make sure he agreed with our decision and to get advise re ongoing treatment. [collar too tight bad design remained on animal for too long]
27th May Midnight patchy rain moonlight Checked neck no infection treated with anticeptic powder. There is a second lump which when pressed ejected a
plastic stud from the collar that had embedded itself under his skin. Fed well 20-25ml slurry very clumsy departure thru heleconias then along the ground to tree.
May 1830 moonlight misty light rain Pan & Stoney at feed station 2100 Stoney at house offered food while we treated his neck. Looking good better departure via trees.
30th May 0030 - moonlight damp Stoney on veranda neck feels good healing well took 25ml slurry
2nd June 2nd July Cold -
various sighting Pan at feed station Stoney at house neck almost completely healed in general he is cold & hungry takes feed quickly & leaves.
st July - very cold clear Very little food around no blossom, no insects, no fruit. Sugar Gliders, Striped Possums & fruit & nectar eating birds are all very hungry
& short of feed. New barbed wire injured female MG [Tassi] in enclosure on veranda. Stoney is visiting her, his scent gland is very evident. Pan continues to be sighted in the area. Tassi moved to large
enclosure 21st Stoney sighted there same night.
9th August cool-dark
Stoney at feed station vocal interaction with Striped Possum Stoney gave way to Stripey and moves off.
23rd August cool- moonlight
Stoney at feed station, scent gland very evident. Aggressive Interaction with sugar glider Stoney chased S Glider off. He appears to have a small injury above his eye.
September continued interactions between Striped Possum & Sugar gliders & Stoney Stoney gives way to Stripey & chases S Gliders off
MG vocalising behind office assume Pan sounds like Rufous Owl warning again. Calling continues for 10min [recording made] Silent Rufous Owl located [we now assume when the owl is silent it is seriously hunting. Pan moved off then commenced calling approx 10min later from a different position. We located her and found the owl in the new location. It appeared that she had followed the owl and was giving warning of the new position.
11th September 18 October Cool Dark smoky interactions with Striped Possum & S Gliders continue
19th October - warmer
weather Poss F MG at feed station no ID grey belly with small cream square poss female. sighted again 24th then interacting with Tassi 11th November.
November Wet-dark-cool Stoney at house weighed 357g appears in good condition scent gland still evident.
Stoney continues to call at house intermittently not particularly hungry, can be touched but certainly does not wish to be restrained calm & in good condition
January 2008 Wet & thundery Stoney occasional visits to house using different entry & exit points wary & alert. No sighting of Pan. No feed stations have been used for some time now as
it appeared to be causing too much interaction between species & the white tailed rat had started to steal the ss bowls.
28th January 2008 - 2200
Stoney has arrived at the house unable to put his hind foot on the ground. He has a significant injury around his eye and leg looks very swollen. Injuries are serious enough to restrain him and require vet assessment. Scooped him up, washed wounds, fed him and placed him in hospital box. Contacted Graham Lauriston [Vet] am 30
th, not on duty but will come in, appt 0930. Weight down again 330g eye ok but bad infection in leg & claw lost. Antibiotics for 4 days Not happy at being in but it is necessary. 31st
transferred from hospital box to small enclosure. Now 352g swelling reduced released 4th
Feb. Looks much better. Funny little chap in so many ways he has adapted well but he certainly does not relate to his world in the same way as our wild gliders. Not sure how many lives MG's have
but off he goes again
February March 2008
Going thru a period of regular visits up to 4 days inbetween not always seeking interaction or food various times of night and morning caught him catching moths in the lounge at 3am this morning [it should be noted that our house is an extremely open structure [just part of his forest]
15th March 2008 Stoney has another injury above his eye treated with Trycin not serious enough to bring him in. Otherwise OK
March 2008 Stoney eye looking OK good condition
April May 2008
catching moths in the house in the wee hours again eating Joeys food guess there isn't much food about. Very hungry intermittent visits
13th May 2008 -Stoney
Injured again serious deep injury near eye eye partially closed Front leg very swollen & infected. Claw missing and other facial injuries. No choice but to bring him in vet visit this morning
Eye seems OK no broken bones deep wounds antibiotics again in for next 10 days
23rd May 2008
Stoney released again it will take a while before he starts looking good he looks like an old battle scarred MG lots of fur missing on his face deep wound still healing leg ok The fur loss around his neck from the radio collar has never regrown - not the pretty city boy he was on arrival.
Edit notes finish for now at July 14th Stoney has just called in
He is lean and healthy, it has been extremely cold through June & July. Blossom has
been out in Eucalypt for the last 2 weeks and we have seen little of him. His preference is for wild food when he can find it his human imprint is significant in that when times get tough he seeks human
DD Summary -
We have had the benefit of sharing Stoney & Pan's release area throughout the past 18months. Here is a summary of our assessment of the outcomes to date: