Sugar gliders are tiny marsupials that are native to New Guinea and Australia. They inhabit open forests, where they live in trees as family units. Sugar gliders move from tree to tree using their gliding membrane that extends from their forepaws to their ankles. In this respect only, they resemble the American flying squirrel. Their furry tail helps serve as a rudder and is somewhat prehensile. Free-ranging sugar gliders are omnivorous. Their natural diet in the winter includes the “sugary” sap of various eucalyptus trees. During the rest of year, they are primarily insectivorous, feasting on moths, beetles, insect larvae and spiders. Fruit is not a major component of the free-ranging diet. Being a marsupial, sugar gliders bear young that complete their development in an external pouch. Before purchasing a sugar glider inquire about state and local laws regarding ownership and obtain proper permits or licenses
What to Expect from Your Sugar Glider
Sugar gliders make interesting pets. They are about the size of a hamster with soft fur. They are very social animals and are best kept with at least one other sugar glider. If kept alone, they require considerable playing attention and social interaction with their owners. Being nocturnal, their eyes are very large, and they prefer dim lighting. They have specialized incisors designed to gouge trees to extract sap, so they need branches to chew. They have several distinctive vocalizations from alarm yaps and hisses to low barking groans, screams and high squeaks
Is Your Sugar Glider a Male or a Female?
Check the lower abdomen for a pouch opening in the female or for the fur-covered testicles in the male; the bifurcated (forked) penis is located at the base of the tail. Males develop a scent gland on the forehead that they may rub on the female’s chest. Males also have anal glands and scent glands on the chest. Both sexes scent-mark territory in a freshly cleaned enclosure
What Do Sugar Gliders Do All Day?
Sugar gliders sleep during the day and are active at night. Relative to other animals, their cage should be extremely large, at least 24” x 24” x 48” with many branches and perches for exercise. They should be let out of their cage every evening for supervised play with their owners. During the day they need a wooden nest box in which to sleep
Are Sugar Gliders Tame?
Sugar gliders should be socialized by the breeder when they are very young. They usually are not provoked to bite, although they may investigate fingers with their mouth. Tame sugar gliders bond with their owners and like to ride around in pockets.
What Should Your Sugar Glider Eat?
Sugar gliders should be fed a diet appropriate for insectivorous/carnivorous animals (at least 50% of total intake, particularly if they are active breeders) along with sources of fruit sugars, preferably in the form of a sap or nectar (Leadbeater's Mix). Feed fresh portions in the evening. In the absence of a very large variety of insects, a zoo formula insectivor can be used, but several various pet-industry raised (pet industry quality
fed a commercial cricket diet or enriched feed
or the owner should dust all insects with complete vitamin powder) insects including mealworms (large & small), crickets, waxworms, moths, spiders, etc., need to be offered. Portion size for one sugar glider is roughly a tablespoon of insects and a tablespoon of nectar. This may be increased or decreased depending of the activity level, reproductive or growth conditions. If fruit is fed as a treat, small bits of a variety should be chopped together to decrease the ability of the glider to pick out only the favorite parts, and a small amount of multiple vitamin/mineral powder mixed through as well. It might be advisable to add bee pollen dusted over any fruit given. It is not proven that commerical lorikeet nectars are adequate.
Leadbeater's Mix (50% of overall diet, fed in evening) = 1 glider portion
150 ml warm water
150 ml honey
1 shelled hard-boiled egg
25 grams high protein baby cereal
1 tsp vitamin/mineral supplement
Mix warm water and honey. In separate container, blend egg until homogenized; gradually add honey/water, then vitamin powder, then baby cereal, blending after each addition until smooth. Keep refrigerated until served.
Sugar Gliders are Marsupials
Sugar gliders breed relatively easy in captivity. The female will increase scent marking to indicate breeding readiness to the male. The gestation period is only 16 days, at which time the infants make their way to the pouch where they attach to a nipple and stay for two months. Ten days after they emerge from the pouch they open their eyes. They wean a month after that, but remain in the parental nest. Males help with the care and feeding of the babies.
What Your Veterinarian Looks For in a Healthy Sugar Glider
Moist, pink nose
Pink gums and mucus membranes
Ability to grip with all four feet
Clear ear canals
Smooth fur coat
Good elasticity of gliding membrane
How to Keep Your Sugar Glider Healthy, Happy and Safe!
Purchase a captive-raised animal because they are usually healthier, of known age, and have adapted as a companion animal.
Take your sugar glider to an exotic animal veterinarian for a physical examination and fecal check for parasites.
Keep environmental temperature around 70°F.
Frequently clean enclosure and nest box so feces and urine won't accumulate.
Feed fresh food portions in the evening.
Provide fresh water every day in a crock (elevated off the floor of the cage to prevent contamination) or sipper bottle.
Provide branches from nontoxic trees such as apple or citrus for climbing and chewing.
Housing for your sugar glider should...
be as large as possible, at least 2 cubic feet in size.
have wire sides with spacing no more than 1 inch square to prevent escape.
have wire bottom and pull out tray for easy cleaning.
include a tamper-free cage door lock.
provide nest boxes that are attached high in the cage.
have shredded paper towels or recycled newspaper pelleted bedding material to line nest box.
have food and water crocks located to prevent contamination (not underneath branches).
It is important to prevent sugar gliders access to...
excessive fat in the diet (peanuts, seeds).
chocolate, refined sugars.
processed human foods with preservatives.
branches from toxic trees.
bright lights or direct, unfiltered/unshaded sunlight.
excessive heat, coolness.
dogs and cats.
unsupervised handling by small children.
unsupervised freedom in the home.