With their playful behavior and adorable doe eyes, sugar gliders are sure to capture anyone’s heart. Due to their size, most people often compare sugar gliders to flying squirrels. It is a common misconception because these little animals are more related to kangaroos and koalas.
Sugar gliders are part of the marsupial family, native to the cool forests of Australia and in some parts of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Wild sugar gliders prefer to eat foods with high sugary nectars like saps from eucalyptus or acacia trees, pollen, nectar, fruits, and insects. Aside from that, they also require a specific environment to thrive and live happily.
Some owners say that this makes it difficult to replicate in captivity. With the correct information and a bit of patience, having sugar gliders as pets is possible.
If you’re curious about how to take care of sugar gliders, you’re just in the right place! Sit back and relax as we discuss everything you need to know about these little marsupials.
Where To Get Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are considered exotic pets, making it a bit trickier to get your hands on one. It would be best to first think about adopting a sugar glider.
You can search the Internet for someone that wants to rehome their glider. It will save you money, and you also get to rescue an animal in need.
Another option is to look for flea markets, pet stores, or mall kiosks. If there’s none in your local area, you may have to search in larger cities.
Lastly, there are reputable breeders out there. Remember to do extensive research about the breeder’s background and facilities before getting a sugar glider from them.
Cities And States Where Sugar Gliders Are Illegal
Sugar gliders are not like your domesticated dogs or cats. Some laws prohibit anyone from owning one as a pet for plenty of reasons. You may wonder where are sugar gliders illegal? To answer that, states, including California, Hawaii, and Alaska, have laws banning ownership of sugar gliders.
Even though it’s legal to have one in Georgia and New Mexico, the state requires you to have the proper permit and documents before having a sugar glider. While they are legal in most states, some cities instated their own ban, like St. Paul in Minnesota, New York City, and Salt Lake City in Utah.
Now that you know which places are legal to keep sugar gliders as a pet, your next question will probably be “what do sugar gliders eat.” Since they are exotic pets, their diet should mirror what they usually eat in the wild as much as possible.
A sugar glider’s diet should be primarily of Leadbeater’s mixture — made from meat, honey, eggs, and supplements. The vet may also recommend sugar glider pellets, which you can buy at pet stores for extra nutrition.
A lot of owners-to-be ask, can sugar gliders eat banana? Actually, fruits and vegetables that are not high in oxalates like bananas, apples, or sweet potatoes are good for them.
The purpose of animal enrichment is to keep your sugar glider happy and healthy by providing an outlet to let them engage their innate behaviors. There are different types of enrichment you can make.
The first one is the environmental enrichment device where your sugar gliders can manipulate it themselves. You may also want to build a habitat enrichment that resembles where they usually reside in the wild.
Another one is sensory enrichment which stimulates your sugar glider’s five senses. It also addresses their territorial and hunting behaviors.
Lastly, it would help if you gave these enrichments in a varied schedule. Your gliders must not be accustomed to it to ensure that they stimulate your sugar gliders every time you use them.
At this point, you probably have the idea that sugar gliders don’t come cheap. A baby sugar glider costs around $200 to $500 in some breeders. On the other hand, adult ones are much cheaper as they only cost between $100 to $200 because they are pretty challenging to train. You may also want to look at rescue shelters since sometimes they have sugar gliders for rehoming that are pretty much free because of their very low price.
You must remember that sugar gliders are highly sociable animals. It would be best if you buy a pair as it can also help with enrichment. Some breeders offer a discount if you buy more than one glider.
As mentioned earlier, it’s challenging to train a sugar glider because they are initially wild creatures. Prepare yourself because you need a lot of patience in doing this. Upon getting a sugar glider, give it a few days to adjust to its new home. Then, you may start offering treats to let them come to you.
Building a bond is an essential part of the training process. After that, put something that smells like you near their cage so your glider can get used to your scent.
Biting is their automatic defense mechanism, so don’t be surprised if they bite you during the first few days of training. However, you shouldn’t walk away after because it might prove that you’re a threat, and biting can make you go away.
Keep in mind that a baby sugar glider is easier to train than an adult one.
What most people love about sugar gliders is that they are highly active, playful, and curious. If given enough attention and TLC, they develop strong bonds with their humans. For this to happen, you should have a minimum of 2 hours a day of meaningful contact with each other.
Sugar gliders are not aggressive animals. However, they tend to bite when threatened.
Overall, the temperament of your sugar glider depends on how you treat them and how much time you spend with them. They require patience and time, but in the end, it’s all worth it.
Level Of Socialization
In the wild, where sugar gliders are from, they live in colonies and are used to being in groups of six to ten. Sugar gliders are highly social animals. To avoid destructive behavior, a responsible owner should introduce socialization to their suggie while they’re still young.
The most appropriate age to socialize a sugar glider is 8 to 12 weeks after they come out of their mother’s pouch. It may take weeks for your sugar glider to fully bond with you. When that time comes, keep up with the socialization to make your pet stay happy and content.
What You Need To Know Before Getting One
Before you finally get a sugar glider as a pet, you must arm yourself with the proper information. Doing this can prepare you with all of the responsibilities equipped to be an exotic pet owner.
1. Sugar Gliders Are Nocturnal
Almost all marsupials, including sugar gliders, are active at night and rest during the day. Keep in mind that these little creatures are awake and fully active between 8pm to 8am. Since this type of animal is very vocal, expect to hear chirping and barking all through the night.
2. Sugar Gliders Require A Specific Habitat
Even though it’s unlikely you can replicate their original habitat, there are specific ways to make their environment exciting. However, you should consider how big do sugar gliders get while doing so.
It would be best if you kept young gliders in a small enclosure so they could feel safe. On the other hand, get bigger cages for adult sugar gliders.
It’s also recommended that you put on exercise wheels and foraging toys for mental stimulation. There should also be a lot of vertical spaces that they can move around.
3. Establishing A Bond Will Take Time
Unlike other regular pets, bonding with a sugar glider will take some time. Remember that they are still considered wild animals and are not used to living with humans yet.
You’ll need to exert more effort, time, and patience so they can trust you. You can start with giving them treats to encourage them to come and interact with you.
4. They Need A Special Veterinarian
Regular veterinarians don’t have sufficient knowledge about sugar gliders and often don’t treat them because of this. Most gliders are vulnerable to health conditions such as injuries and parasites. That’s why you have to find an exotic veterinarian capable of ensuring the health of a sugar glider.
5. Sugar Gliders Tend To Smell
All male sugar gliders develop scent glands on their chests and at the top of their heads during puberty. They use this to mark their territory, mate, and companions.
It may put off a musky odor. In order to prevent this situation, a male sugar glider must be neutered before he reaches puberty age.
Some gliders also smell because of a poor diet. A well-balanced diet and proper hygiene is the key to a healthy and pleasant-smelling sugar glider.
Supplies You Need To Adequately Care For A Sugar Glider
When you have decided that you want a sugar glider, it’s time for you to prepare its new home. Here are some of the stuff you will need to take care of your new pet:
1. Food And Water Bowls
Since sugar gliders have a particular diet, the first supplies on your list should consist of the appropriate food and water bowls. You’ll need stainless steel bowls that can be bolted high up in the cage. Avoid putting bowls at the bottom to protect the food from urine and feces.
2. Nest Pouches
Do you know that sugar gliders spend 13 to 19 hours a day sleeping? That’s why having multiple nest pouches where your suggie can rest comfortably is a must-have. Avoid getting pouches that have plastic clippings as your pet may chew on them.
A nest pouch can also be a suitable bonding device as you may remove it from the cage and let the little glider rest on your lap.
When looking for a cage, it’s important to remember that sugar gliders love to climb and jump. It would be best to pick a pen with ample vertical space—the bigger the cage, the better.
Pick something you can afford and fits nicely in your home. It would be best to choose a cage with a larger door to make cleaning and rearranging the enclosure more manageable.
4. Stimulating Toys
Just like humans, sugar gliders can also experience boredom and depression. You can prevent it from happening by providing them with some physical and mentally stimulating toys.
An exercise wheel is a favorite toy for most sugar gliders. It’s a great tool to keep them healthy and physically fit. To encourage their instincts, it would be better if you also put some foraging toys, hideaways, and more.
5. Emergency Kit
Aside from the fact that sugar gliders are prone to health issues, they are also great at hiding them. It would be wise to prepare an emergency kit.
An emergency kit should contain alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment, medications, eye droppers, a comfortable blanket, health records, and wound sprays.
Rest assured that you won’t have to buy all of these individually. There are a lot of ready-made kits over the Internet and at some pet shops where they have everything you might need in case of an emergency.
Upon reading this, you may have realized that taking care of a sugar glider requires patience and hard work. Having one may seem fun and exciting, but remember to take it seriously.
Some people don’t know the stakes before getting a sugar glider. Unfortunately, this results in these individuals eventually giving up their pets to rescue centers.
Before you get a sugar glider, kindly take time to consider if you are willing to commit to it. Remember that taking care of a living thing is a big responsibility!
They may be hard to bond with at first, but in the end, they’ll warm up to you. We assure you that nothing feels as good as having a sugar glider to finally trust and cuddle with you.