What is a Sugar Glider? – Sugar Gliders Facts
Sugar Gliders are small mammals native to the rainforests of Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia. Weighing between 90-150 grams and measuring 6-8 inches length-wise, they are common household pets. They can fit in to your pocket and can be easily carried around on your palm. They belong to the same family as a Kangaroo or a Koala bear. These cute marsupials have been domesticated and bred as popular pets in the USA for the past 15 years or so.
Their strong preference for sweet tree saps, nectar, pollen, fruits, and vegetables, as well as their ability to glide from tree to tree, has earned them the title of “Sugar Gliders.” Their gliding ability comes from one particularly distinctive feature of their anatomy. The skin membranes that extend from their forelimbs back to the toes of the hind legs form an aerodynamic surface that enables them to glide similarly to a North American flying squirrel.
In the wild, Sugar Gliders are tree-dwelling creatures and typically live in colonies of 10-15. Sugar Gliders are scientifically named as Petauraus breviceps, and zoologists have classified them as follows: Class: Mammalia / Infraclass: Marsupialia / Order: Diprotodontia / Suborder: Phalangerida / Family: Petauridae / Genus: Petaurus / Species: P. Breviceps.
Do Sugar Gliders make good pets?
Sugar Gliders should not be mistaken for rodents because of their initial outward appearance. They are marsupials and have shown to be very appropriate for domestication. Sugar Gliders make excellent pets. They are known to bond well with human beings – and are typically not a one-person animal. Their intelligence levels are often reputed to be on par with that of dogs. With proper training, they learn to respond to their names and even do tricks. They have the tendency to keep themselves impeccably clean and do not require bathing. A good pelleted-diet also ensures that Sugar Gliders do not smell bad. In captivity, Sugar Gliders typically live for 12-15 years.
As household pets, rodents such as mice, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, etc. present a destructive problem to their owners. Since a rodent’s teeth continuously grow, they need to chew on things continually. Sugar Gliders are not rodents, and therefore do not have this destructive nature.
Probably the most interesting quality that separates Sugar Gliders from any other “rodent” type of pet is how deeply they bond with their owners. Once bonded, these adorable pets can be carried almost anywhere in pockets. Since they are instinctively inclined to be near their “families,” they make excellent pets for senior citizens and even handicapped individuals who are looking for an affectionate, loving companion.
Are Sugar Gliders noisy? – Sugar Gliders Facts
Sugar Gliders are capable of making several unique sounds, including barking and chattering. However, in most cases, they only exhibit these behaviors during periods of extreme stress or mistreatment.
Sugar Gliders are nocturnal by nature, and although they can be put on any “schedule,” they will still prefer to play in their cage at night. When playing, they are typically no more or less noisy than other traditional house pets.
However, since they are very intelligent little creatures, they will make the most of any toys you give them. Sugar Gliders will play with almost any type of pet or baby toy. Therefore, it’s best to remove any ‘noisemakers’ ahead of time if you prefer quiet surroundings.
Will my Sugar Gliders get along with my other pets?
Studies have shown that most people who have Sugar Gliders also have other common household pets such as cats, dogs, and birds. When appropriately introduced to each other over time, in most cases, they end up becoming life-long companions. This is due to the fact that Sugar Gliders are marsupials – not rodents (such as squirrels, mice, rabbits, etc.) – and therefore they do not instinctively smell like prey to most cats and dogs.
Some more exotic pets, (such as hawks, owls, and snakes), will never bond with Sugar Gliders – and vice versa.
As is the case when introducing any pets to each other, it’s always best to go slow and let them get used to each other over time. Most reputable breeders will provide step-by-step instructions on exactly how to introduce them to your other pets safely.
Do I have to get two Sugar Gliders?
One of the most popular misconceptions about Sugar Gliders is that they will die if you only get one. Sugar Gliders are social animals – and while they instinctively love contact and interaction – rarely, they will actually “die” of loneliness unless entirely neglected by their owners.
Any animal is always happier if they have a playmate of their kind, so whenever possible, it is best to get two. However, in most cases, they will be just as happy playing with their owners – or other pets in the home.
What’s the difference between male and female Sugar Gliders?
Sugar Gliders typically do not exhibit some of the gender differences of many other household pets. For example, unlike ferrets, female Gliders generally do not become aggressive when reaching puberty.
Upon reaching adulthood, male Sugar Gliders will “mark” their territory in a fashion similar to other household pets. However, when fed the correct pelleted diet, this usually does not result in a noticeable smell.
Female Gliders will go into heat twice a year – but there are no outward manifestations such as spotting or odor.
Males and females typically have equally sweet dispositions.
If I get two Sugar Gliders, should I get a boy and a girl?
Sugar Gliders are incredibly social animals – and two girls, two boys, or any number of each will usually get along well in the same cage. However, just as is the case with cats and dogs, a Sugar Glider’s personality can – and often does – change after it has had babies.
For this reason, when purchasing multiple babies, it is always recommended to get the same sex. Alternatively – if getting a boy and a girl – any future temperament issues can be avoided by merely neutering the male. Many states have recently changed their laws regarding most household pets (including cats and dogs), requiring that all-male animals are neutered before purchase. Any reputable, USDA Licensed Breeder can inform you of the laws in your area.
If getting a boy and a girl, the best time to neuter the male is before four months of age.
Does it take a long time for Sugar Gliders to bond?
As no two children are the same, no two baby Sugar Gliders bond at precisely the same rate. One may take longer, and another may bond quickly. In some cases, bonding can happen within a few days – but in most situations, it takes a few weeks for a young Joey to become completely bonded to its owners.
The most crucial factor in bonding is the age of the Sugar Glider. The ideal age to begin the bonding process is about 8-12 weeks out of the mother’s pouch. In the wild, as soon as they come out of the pouch, they instinctively desire to bond with other Sugar Gliders in the colony. This same process happens at home with whoever – or whatever – they are surrounded by, including humans and even other household pets such as cats and dogs. Although they will naturally bond with an entire group, like most pets, they form the strongest bond with the person or pet with whom they have maximum contact.
Bonding with a baby Sugar Glider is not an overly-consuming process; however, it does require some time and effort. The majority of the bonding process happens passively via their keen sense of smell. Any reputable, USDA licensed breeder should be able to provide step-by-step instructions on how to make this process fun and enjoyable.
The bonding process does require time, but it’s a small investment in return for years of love, affection, and companionship.
How big are Sugar Gliders? – Sugar Gliders Facts
Baby Sugar Gliders are born about the size of a grain of rice, and the body of an adult Glider can grow up to 5-7 inches (with the tail measuring another 5-7 inches).
When it comes to birth and childhood, there are a lot of similarities between a baby Kangaroo and a baby Sugar Glider. Both are called “Joeys” at their birth, and both spend the first weeks of their lives in their mothers’ pouches. This desire to be “in the pouch” continues throughout their entire lives, and this is the reason why they love hanging out in shirt pockets and other similar spaces.
Is it expensive to feed Sugar Gliders?
One of the most interesting features of Sugar Gliders is the way they eat. Instead of having feet, Sugar gliders have four hands, and on each hand, there is an opposable thumb, similar to us. When they eat, it will not escape your notice how similar they are to humans. Their method of holding food and the quick mouth movements always make for an entertaining scene.
Feeding Sugar Gliders is not an expensive, complicated process. In recent years, Veterinary science has come out with commercially-available pelleted foods, which makes the process of feeding and caring for Sugar Gliders very similar to that of a cat or dog. The primary difference is that feeding Sugar glider is typically much less expensive than even the smallest cat or dog.
Although many internet websites still claim pelleted foods are not suitable for Sugar Gliders, recent Veterinary studies have shown that they are actually much better than the older, more complicated diets. Any reputable, USDA Licensed Breeder will be able to provide you with detailed dietary instructions to keep your Gliders happy and healthy.
Do Sugar Gliders stink? – Sugar Gliders Facts
When fed older, outdated diets (often consisting of insects, honey, meat, eggs, etc.), Sugar Gliders can develop a smell similar to that of a ferret. The advent of commercial pelleted foods has reduced this issue, and some excellent foods even contain Veterinary approved ingredients which leave the animal with no detectable smell.
Can Sugar Gliders be potty-trained?
Sugar Gliders cannot be “potty-trained” in the ordinary sense of the words. However, the potty habits of Sugar Gliders are entirely predictable – and they are very clean little animals that never require bathing. Any reputable, USDA Licensed Breeder will be able to give you detailed instructions on how to master your Sugar Glider’s bathroom habits – making them on par with most other household pets.
What about Vet care?
Sugar Gliders do not require the same level of veterinary care as dogs and cats. For example, they do not require vaccinations – since they have not been shown to carry any illnesses such as rabies, parvo, etc. They also do not require repetitive care for conditions such as heartworms, fleas, etc.
Due to their rise in popularity as house pets over the last few years, most Veterinarians who already work on other small mammals such as hamsters, gerbils, etc. can easily work on Sugar Gliders.
What if I travel a lot?
Since Sugar Gliders are so small and compact, most owners praise how well they travel as a family pet. If you are going on an extended trip and are unable to take them with you, the preferable option is simply to take their cage over to a friend’s home where they can interact with others and enjoy themselves while you are gone.
What kind of cage do Sugar Gliders need?
One common misconception about Sugar Gliders is that they require big cages. Sugar Gliders love to jump and play. However, for the first few months in their new home, they will be just learning these things, and a big cage is not advisable. Recent Veterinary studies have shown that the ideal cage size for up to two adult Sugar Gliders is around 2ft x 2ft x 2ft. As adults, a larger cage is fine, but be careful only to use a quality cage in which all the surfaces are coated in a very high-grade epoxy finish. Sugar Gliders are susceptible to zinc-poisoning, which comes from low-grade cages or pens.