A sugar glider is a small, omnivorous, arboreal, and nocturnal marsupial. The name refers to their preference for sugary foods like nectar, and ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel. They are colony animals, so they must live in at least pairs.
Sugar Gliders are from Australia and New Guinea. Adults weight 4-6 ounces and measure about 12” from their nose to the tip of their tail, with at least half being tail.
Sugar Gliders have a thin membrane that stretches from their wrists to their ankles. This allows them to glide from branch to branch like the American Flying Squirrel. They use their tails as a rudder while they travel and gather insects in flight. Their gliding distances have been documented up to 150 feet!
Sugar Gliders are fragile, but they can be easily handled. They adapt well to humans and develop strong bonds with their owners. They are communal animals that need and crave attention from you, the owner, and other Sugar Gliders. How close your newly adopted pet bonds to you will depend on the time you spend together. An average of 2 hours a day is recommended, but more time is always better. If you hold them daily they will become familiar with your scent and more trusting. You can carry them around the house in a loose shirt pocket or on a shoulder. Make sure they have a place to crawl into if they feel insecure of just need to rest. They can live up to 12 years, possibly longer.
Before you buy any cage, you should consider the following: food placement, bedding, shelter, and exercise area. Make sure food holders are large enough to keep food in but too small for your pet to sit in and possibly soil the food as they eat.
Always replace perishable items on a daily basis as spoiled food attracts bugs and can make your pet ill. Sugar Gliders also need a next box to sleep in during the day and protect them from the sun. This is important since prolonged exposure to sunlight is not good.
Your Sugar Glider should have a cage that will allow plenty of room for exercise. The wire spacing should be no more than 1”x 1⁄2” wide. This is to keep babies in. Overall the cage should be at least 20” x 20” x 30”. Large bird cages make excellent glider homes. There should be a wire bottom to allow droppings to fall through.
Keep them away from drafts or heating/air-conditioning vents to prevent them from catching colds. The best temperature range is 60-90 degrees F. If you have a door on the cage that lifts open, make sure you put a latch on it. They can figure out how to open it.
Bird toys or other small animal toys that your pet can climb, push, or carry around are wonderful. For the best reaction, place new things high in the cage. Do not use cloth materials. They may eat loose threads or become entangled in them. Some owners use natural woods, toxic branches. Remember, trees that bear pit containing fruits are NOT safe woods to use. These include; Apricot, Avocado, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach, Plum, etc.
Other unsafe woods include (but are not remotely limited to); Box Elder, Boxwood, Cedar, Oak, Pine, Red variety Maples, Walnut, etc.
Food & Supplements: Fresh fruits and vegetables. A good source of protein is required, such as cooked chicken, tofu, cottage cheese, or yogurt. Live insects like mealworms and crickets as well as raw unsalted nuts that can be given as treats. A calcium supplement is also needed.
Gliders require a solid 75% fruit/vegetable and 25% protein diet. You need to keep their fat intake to minimum. It can result in health problems later on and in any babies. Canned fruit is not an option because it contains preservatives and refined sugar which are harmful.
There are many diets out there claiming to be the best option. I recommend researching them all and choosing what works best for you. Make sure you follow the directions and recommended supplements of whichever diet you choose.
Above: Piper, our resident standard grey pet glider.
Left: Doodle is leucistic coloring.
Right: Snicker is white face coloring
Sugar Gliders are fond of many different types of food. Some that they particularly enjoy, but are not limited to, are as follows: Apples, applesauce (baby food formula only, it contains vitamins), apricots, bananas, berries, bread, cantaloupe, carrots, cherries, corn, dates, dried fruit, eggs (boiled/raw), figs, grapes, honey, honeydew, insects (mealworms, crickets), meats (low fat turkey, boiled and skinless chicken, & feeder mice), melons, nuts (assorted raw & unsalted), papaya, peaches (NOT the pits, they are toxic), peanut butter, pears, pineapple, plums, pure fruit juices, raisins, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and sweet potatoes.
Toxic foods: Onion, Garlic, Lima Beans, Chocolate
Rhubarb, Pits, Seeds, Chocolate and human processed and junk foods.
Sugar Gliders can also be peculiar about what they eat. They each have their own personality and tastes. It will just take time to found out what they like. You also need to make sure you give your pet fresh water every day. Some people suggest feeding once a day at dusk, while others will feed twice a day. At SECT Exotics we feed in the evening, but leave out kibble all day to snack on.
Bonding with your Sugar Glider is the easiest part of owning one. The time frame for bonding can take anywhere from immediately to a few months. Carry your new pet around in a bonding pouch all day or as much as possible. You can give small treats to help speed things up (called “Pocket Training”). During the day you can pet and bond with your Sugar Glider even if he is asleep. He will get used to your scent and touch at the same time. If you do carry him in your shirt pocket be careful not to lean against anything that could possibly cause injury. Sugar Gliders tend to bond closer to their main caretaker. They can and will accept other people but tend to stay with their main handler.