“Like most captive wildlife, the mahogany gliders maintained at UQ are already implanted with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchips for identification purposes,” Dr Hoy said.
“These microchips can be linked with automated equipment such as commercially available pet feeders and doors to provide an extensive and unpredictable variety of food, enrichment and access to space on an individual animal basis, to more accurately replicate aspects of the natural environment.
“If the study animals successfully use the microchip-automated feeders and doors, this will be the first recorded use of these commercially available devices with mahogany gliders.”
Dr Hoy said the research would provide valuable ‘proof-of-concept’ information that could have broad impact for captive and free-living wildlife.
“Using microchip-automated technology to provide released wildlife with short-term access to supplementary feed and areas of refuge from predators, while also monitoring populations should improve the success of wildlife reintroduction programs,” she said.
In a second study, the researchers hope to improve understanding of mahogany glider nutrition.
Ms O’Hara said the species had a tendency to become obese in captivity, emphasising the importance of the planned research to determine their specific nutritional requirements.
The project will compare the current mahogany glider diet at UQ, other zoo diets, and a commercial sugar glider diet to ensure the species will receive the highest quality, most suitable diet.
Information collected during this research will be shared with other zoos currently maintaining mahogany gliders to ensure a consistent and appropriate diet across institutions.
Ensuring the survival of native Australian species is a priority for UQ’s Native Wildlife Teaching and Research Facility. To find out more about how you can support the work of the UQ Native Wildlife Teaching and Research Facility please contact UQ Faculty of Science Philanthropy Manager Julia Keithj.firstname.lastname@example.org, +61 7 3346 3143.