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Pet Rating System: 1= Lowest 5 = Highest
Sugar Glider pictures provided by Melissa Benson
Caring For Your New Sugar Glider
Essential Care Items:
Our Rating: We have given the sugar glider an overall pet rating of 3 stars because they need precise care and diet to keep them healthy, they can be difficult to tame, and require a lot of attention. You should consider how much time you will have for your new sugar glider for bonding purposes. Gliders can become depressed very easily if there is no interaction or activity. You may want to get two so that they will have company. There have been many advances in sugar glider care in recent years, making it much easier to meet the needs of this wonderful "pocket pet". A glider's large expressive eyes and "pocket" size have resulted in their recent gain in popularity. Not a pet for everyone, a glider requires specialized diets and lots of attention. Because of this specialized care, they are an expensive investment. It is also difficult to find a veterinarian that knows exotic medicine in an emergency. Endearing qualities of the sugar glider are their large eyes and special bond they develop with their owner. If you decide to make the commitment to a glider, you will be rewarded with a pet that is curious, playful and loving. Visit our Advanced Small Animal and FAQ's for more info on gliders.
Sugar Gliders are marsupials which are mammals that carry their young, called a joey, in a specialized pouch. Sugar gliders are unique because they have webbed bodies that enable them to "fly". Their flying is actually more like gliding downhill when descending from the top of a tree. Gliders are nocturnal doing most of their foraging at night. Be prepared for a pet that is active at night. The sugar glider is a native of Australia.
Housing - Try to get the biggest cage you can afford. We recommend a cage that is no smaller that 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. A large powder coated bird cage with no more than 1/2 inch spacing between bars or a large ferret cage with multi or different levels are a perfect choice. Since sugar gliders cannot be litter trained, it is important to get a cage that has a pull-out tray for easy cleaning. You can use corn cob litter in your pull-out tray. Be sure to put in several sized bird perches and/or eucalyptus branches for lots of exercise. Try adding vines and ropes for added stimulation. Plastic bird perches work well because they are easily washed and do not hold urine smells.
Your cage should be kept out of direct sunlight and drafts. Since they are nocturnal, they do not like a lot of light and will be more active in the evening. Gliders should be kept in areas where the temperature is a range of 70 - 90 degrees. A general rule is... if your comfortable, your sugar glider is comfortable. In the wild, sugar gliders gather in holes in trees and line the holes with leaves for sleeping. Therefore, your sugar glider will be more at home if you supply sleeping quarters. Since the sleeping quarters will need to be cleaned regularly, a plastic house lined with washable fleece is a good choice. Baby wipe containers work well. For an extra treat, supply eucalyptus branches with leaves and watch them strip the leaves for bedding material. Be sure to change the soiled leaves. Another idea for sleeping quarters is a fleece lined sleeping pouch or hammock.
Food - Sugar gliders in the wild eat a wide variety of food ranging from sap on the trees, fruits and nuts, to insects. To provide the best diet, we recommend a base of good quality sugar glider kibble. This can be found at most local pet stores now that gliders have become a more common pet. By base diet, we mean this kibble should be available all day for grazing. The base diet is usually high in protein. These base diets can then be supplemented with additional protein rich insects such as crickets and mealworms. Other foods can include boiled eggs, yogurt, baby food, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, grapes, melons, very small pieces of cooked chicken (blended preferred). As a special treat, you can provide nectars specially made for sugar gliders. Visit our Pet Tips for ideas on toys and treats.
Potty Training - You can potty train a sugar glider if you are persistent and consistent. Remember that they are like most animals and they go potty after eating, sleeping and playing. Encourage them to use their "potty area" anytime they wake, eat or sleep. Since sugar gliders are known for being difficult to potty training, be sure to have plenty of baby wipes handy!
Grooming - Sugar gliders are good groomers, grooming themselves frequently. For those difficult nail trimmings, try fine grain sandpaper under the food bowl and on a ramp to reduce the number of nail trimmings.
Handling - This is the best part...sugar gliders become very attached and bond to their owners. It is critical in the first few weeks of getting your sugar glider that your spend as much time as possible "pocket training" and bonding together. Pocket training is accomplished by lining your shirt pocket with a piece of fleece or pre-made fleece pocket liners and keeping your sugar glider in your shirt pocket as much as possible. The pocket should be considered by your sugar glider as a safehaven. If it jumps off or out of the pocket, put it right back in the pocket. When you take your sugar glider out of the pocket, put it in your hand with food on your fingertip so that it will get used to you. Try using soft sticky food like yogurt and baby food. As soon as it is done eating, put it back in the pocket. If bonded correctly, your glider will go to the safehaven on its own. Soon you will have a cute and cuddly friend darting all over you and returning to your pocket for rest and security. If a sugar glider is scared, it will make hissing noises and roll over. Do not use discipline with the shy sugar gliders, patience is the only trainer.
Toys - Sugar gliders are active and require a lot of different stimulation. You can provide climbing ladders, plastic chains (baby links) for climbing, used paper towel rolls, balls with bells, ropes with knots to untie, and hamster tubes. Bird toys also make fun glider toys. Rotating the toys frequently keeps your glider interested. Visit our Pet Tips for ideas on toys and treats.
Health - We recommend neutering your male sugar glider due to the fact that they do develop scent glands on their head and chest. Although it is not a strong odor, they will rub their scent to mark their territory.
Sugar gliders can also develop hind-leg paralysis which is life threatening. It is caused by a vitamin deficiency from improper diets. Be sure to provide a calcium rich diet for strong bones.
For more information on sugar gliders: