Sugar Gliders (as Pets) a Comprehensive Guide

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Sugar gliders are exotic pets that have gained popularity among cute animal lovers. By cute, I mean small and cuddly little animals. Nonetheless, like all exotics pets, you should be aware of the care required to match the personality traits of a glider before owning one.

Adopting a sugar glider as a pet should be a long-term commitment. This is because sugar gliders survive best on a special diet, space, and lots of attention from their owners.

Breed overview

  • Common name: Sugar glider
  • Scientific name: Petaurus breviceps
  • Life expectancy: Can live from 10 to 15 years in captivity
  • Adult size: Sugar glider’s body can reach up to 5 to 6 inches long, and their tails adding another 6 inches
  • Weight: Can weigh around 5 1/2 oz
  • Level of care: High. Sugar gliders are highly-maintenance pets that need plenty of socialization and attention.

Behavior and temperament

Sugar gliders would make playful, active, endearing, and entertaining pets. However, consistent human interaction is necessary if what you are looking for is to optimize the friendly level of your glider, especially if you have a whole colony in your keep.

Naturally, sugar gliders would bond with other gliders they find themselves with. Even though gliders need to bond with each other, owners should also ensure that their gliders maintain a level of friendliness with them if they are looking to handle their sugar gliders.

The noise that sugar gliders make is usually to indicate that it is hungry, upset, frightened, or generally to express several emotions. “Crabbing” is commonly the sound these cute furballs make, and they make this sound when they are upset. This audible noise is usually a warning sound and owners who ignore this reaction get bitten.

This sound may be heard if a sugar glider is woken up during the day. This may get them upset, especially since gliders are nocturnal creatures. Sugar gliders are surprisingly very vocal animals, which may come as a surprise to first-time owners.

Sugar gliders as pets are active and quick. They love to climb, and if allowed an open space, will glide from place to place. During the day, you may find them resting and cuddling in nests. Even though they can’t be potty trained, they are moderately clean pets.

Letting a sugar glider to ride in a pouch hung around your neck or in your pocket is a quick and direct way to interact and bond with your pet. It may take some time, effort, and patience to handle a sugar glider well enough to cuddle or pet if it isn’t tamed or isn’t used to being held.

Don’t forget that these little furry babies possess sharp nails and teeth, and even though they aren’t aggressive pets, they won’t hesitate to bury their teeth wherever they feel like it if they get frightened or feel threatened.

Housing the Sugar Glider

A pair of sugar gliders would do well in a cage that is 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 36 inches high. Nevertheless, bigger is much better, especially when it comes to keeping a sugar glider, and the height of their cage must be highly considered, than the floor space. This is because of the gliding activities of these exotic marsupials.

To aid with climbing, the bars should be designed horizontally, while the spacing between the cage wire shouldn’t be more than half an inch wide. Plenty of toys should be provided for them to play with, and a closed exercise wheel wouldn’t do any harm either.

Ropes, branches, and ladders will also present plenty of opportunities for exercise and climbing. This helps to keep them active.

Sugar gliders as pets are considered very smart and have been known to open latches easily. This is why it’s necessary to always keep the lock on the cage secured at all times. Doing this helps minimize the risk of injury if they fall.

The bottom of the cage should be lined with for shavings or aspen. Cedar shavings should be avoided as it’s been known to have a strong scent that might irritate and cause respiratory complications in small animals. Ensure to clean the shavings at least four times in a month; most gliders fall ill due to unsanitary conditions of their enclosure.

Your pet’s enclosure should be kept far away from direct sunlight and areas close to windows and doors. The ideal temperature of a sugar glider’s home should be between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food and water

Pet sugar gliders have quite strict dietary requirements. Feeding your glider a properly balanced diet, can help prevent an imbalance of phosphorus and calcium ratios. When in their natural habitat, sugar glider’s diet would include sap from trees and nectar.

Sugar gliders are omnivorous in nature, so they typically would help themselves with insects, fruits, plant materials, other rodents, and even birds.

Varieties of homemade BML diet are mostly followed by sugar glider owners. Baby cereal, honey, and honey are usually used in these recipes to provide decent nutrition for your sugar glider. Also, vegetables and fresh fruits should also be included in their diet on a nightly basis.

Formulated diets designed for sugar gliders are not easily accessible to most people and are also discouraged by many breeders.

Common health complications

Sugar gliders are very sensitive and are prone to stress. More so, they are known to self-mutilate when exposed to too much stress.

You may be doing more harm than good if you try housing sugar gliders that don’t get along with each other, or when you place them in a small enclosure. These factors can significantly affect and stress these little furry babies.

Like all rodents and marsupials, sugar gliders are prone to parasitic and bacterial infections. A protozoan parasite like giardia affects sugar gliders and can cause a number of complications such as weight loss, lethargy, and dehydration.

Most parasitic and bacterial infections occur when vegetables and fruits aren’t properly washed. It is imperative that owners properly clean the foods they feed their sugar gliders. It is also vital that the phosphorous-calcium level of your sugar glider is maintained to help optimize the overall health of your pet.

You may want to look for a reputable breeder or a veterinarian who specializes in rodents and marsupials before adopting a glider. Most illnesses that affect sugar gliders can be detected and controlled with consistent visits to the veterinarian.

Purchasing a Sugar Glider

Proper information about the health history of your pet can be gotten from a reputable breeder who can update you on any health complications it has had or would likely have.

Rules and regulations should be checked, as with any exotic animal, to be sure you don’t break any law when owning a sugar glider.

Sugar Gliders in the wild

Similar to kangaroos, baby gliders live the earliest stages of their lives in their mother’s pouch and are also referred to as joeys. They are grouped under the marsupial family, and not rodents, like the flying squirrel.

All wild sugar gliders are originally from Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia, where they dwell in treetops. Their name was coined from how they get from one place to another and the food they eat.

In the wild, sugar gliders live in social family units known as colonies. This mode of living is critical to all gliders, and they do well on the communication and companionship they get their own species.

Do you own a sugar glider? Ever thought about having one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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