Keeping Sugar Gliders as Pets
Information and Pictures
"My female sugar glider, Gloria and her baby (about 1 month after it came out of the pouch) investigating the camera."
Small arboreal marsupial, silvery blue gray in color with a darker stripe on the back. The last couple of inches of the tail are also black. They are members of the same family as kangaroos, wombats, opossums and Tasmanian devils.
The sugar glider is a nocturnal animal, meaning they sleep during the day and are up at night. In the wild, sugar gliders are playful with their colony, but wary and protective of intruders. When an intruder is spotted, they will sound off a shrill yapping followed by a sharp shriek if a fight arises. It is not easy to tame an already mature sugar glider, however it is easy to tame baby sugar gliders by holding them for several hours a day while they are still very young. An untamed glider requires lots of time and patience. If you wish to have a cuddly glider, be sure to adopt one that has been extensively handled and well socialized. They tend to bond strongly to one person, usually the person who has held them the most and spends the most time with them. While they will check new people out, they always return to the person they have bonded to. They are extremely active and very social animals and do not like to live alone. If you would like to own a sugar glider, plan on having more than one. A lonely sugar glider that is deprived of social interaction will not thrive. It will become depressed, which can cause it to die. Sugar gliders adore their owners. They need a great deal of interaction and would even enjoy riding around in your pocket all day, or if you wear two shirts, the glider will hang out between your shirts (the second shirt prevents you from being scratched). In the wild, they form colonies with up to seven gliders in one colony. In the colonies they have an order; a leader on down to the bottom of the rank. They have fun and friendly personalities. Sugar Gliders "glide" by leaping off of something. They spread their membrane of skin called a patagium that extends between their front and back legs. They use their long tails to steer as they glide to over one hundred meters, adjusting the curvature of their skin according to which direction they wish to go. Sugar gliders do not make great housetraining candidates. Their teeth are sharp, and while they do not usually bite, they can if they feel frightened or threatened. Sugar gliders need to be treated with love, respect and gentleness. They do not respond at all to punishment or domination.
Length: 6.3 - 7.5 inches (16 - 20 cm) The Sugar Glider is about the size of a gerbil when mature. They have a long bushy tail, which is about the same length as their body (20cm).
Weight: 100-160 grams.
A large cage, the bigger the better, should be provided with plenty of things to jump and leap off of (a minimum of 24 x 24 inches, by 36 inches high). For a sugar glider, height is more valuable than floor space. A wire cage, wire should be no more than ½ inch wide, is best to allow the cage to breathe. A plastic tub can be placed under the cage to catch any debris that may fall out of the cage. Lots of toys should be provided as well as an exercise wheel, nest box and/or glider pouch. Branches, ropes and ladders will provide lots of opportunity for climbing and exercise.
The sugar glider is a very clean little creature. If you keep their cages clean, they have almost no odor.
Their nails should be kept well-trimmed. They can become sharp and will scratch you as they dig in to try and climb up or land on you.
The feeding requirements of a sugar glider are somewhat controversial. It is only recently they have been kept as pets, and needs are somewhat of a mystery. As time goes on people will learn more about the needs of these little creatures. Sugar gliders are omnivorous, meaning they will eat plant material and meat. In the wild they feed from nectar, fruit, insects and even small birds, eggs or rodents. This diet is pretty hard to replicate in captivity. People feed them a variety of foods trying to mimic their natural diet as best they can. Some people feed insects such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, moths and spiders. The insects should be fed high quality food such as commercial cricket food, and dusted with a complete vitamin/mineral supplement. Hence their name, the sugar glider loves the taste of sugar. They like fruit cocktail. The fruit should be fed in small amounts, chopped together so the gliders cannot just pick out their favorites. Some mix a concoction called "Leadbeater's Mix Recipe," which is 150 ml warm water, 150 ml honey, 1 shelled, boiled egg, 25 grams high protein baby cereal and 1 tsp of a vitamin/mineral supplement. Mix in warm water and honey. Blend the egg then gradually add the water/honey mixture. Blend in the vitamin powder until it is smooth, and then blend in baby cereal until it is smooth. Keep refrigerated until served. While sugar gliders love nuts, nuts should be fed sparingly, as they can cause health problems.
Provided you supply enough living space, the sugar glider will take care of its own exercise needs.
In captivity, the sugar glider is susceptible to back leg paralysis. It is thought this may be caused by some sort of deficiency. It can be prevented and treated with vitamins D, E and calcium. Nuts and seeds should be fed very sparingly, as the sugar glider is prone to impaction, a condition similar to constipation.
In captivity, females can have up to three litters a year. In the wild they tend to have one or two litters a year. They often will have twins and sometimes triplets. Female sugar gliders have pouches; their young will stay in the pouch for about the first 70 days. Then for the next month or so, the babies will remain in the nest. After about 3½ months, the young gliders will begin to accompany their mothers and fathers.
Native to Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and the neighboring islands of Indonesia. Sugar gliders can be found in wooded forests where there is plenty of rainfall and where Acacia Gum and Eucalyptus trees are found, as in the wild, these are their main food source.
"My female sugar glider with her first baby."
"Male sugar glider having its favorite snack!"
Bettie the sugar glider