How to Take Care of a Sugar Glider

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Sugar gliders are small marsupials who can live up to 15 years in captivity. If you’re thinking about keeping sugar gliders, keep in mind that they do better in pairs -- but that just means you'll have two that love you and show you affection. Sugar gliders are social little creatures; they recognize their people and can become quite vocal when they are trying to tell you something.

Housing a Sugar Glider

  • A sugar glider cage should be at least 30 inches wide, 18 inches deep and 36 inches tall. If the cage is cramped, your sugar glider will stress. The cage should be made from PVC or coated wire. Some ferret cages are sufficient for sugar gliders if the wire spacing is no more than a half-inch wide.

    Add ledges, branches, ropes and toys for play; scour the bird section of your pet store for safe, nontoxic perches and toys. Some sugar gliders will run on saucer-style wheels or regular rodent wheels. Make sure each glider has at least one nesting box or hanging pouch.

    Use a nontoxic bedding, such as aspen or recycled paper bedding.

Feeding a Sugar Glider

  • Unlike hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs and other similar pets, sugar gliders need a little more planning when it comes to their diet. A sugar glider’s diet should contain fruits, vegetables and proteins. Avoid giving a sugar glider candy, chocolate or other sugar sweets.

    Fruits and Vegetables -- Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up about half of a sugar glider’s diet. Offer apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupes, honey dew, figs, grapes, mangoes, peaches, pears, pineapples, grapefruits, carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, peas or green beans.

    Proteins -- Proteins should make about a quarter of the diet. Lean meats, such as chicken and turkey are ideal, but you can offer tofu, boiled eggs and cottage cheese as well. Sugar gliders will eat mealworms, crickets, earthworms and other insects, but keep insects to a minimum, as they can be fatty.

    Dry Diet -- Offer a premium sugar-glider-specific packaged kibble as the remainder of your pets' diet. Some sugar gliders prefer the dry mix to be moistened before they’ll eat it.

Sugar Glider Behaviors

  • Each sugar glider will have his own personality and personality quirks. Some can be quite loving and people-friendly; they may lick and groom their people or even curl up in a shirt pocket to take a nap. But some sugar gliders do not handle stress well; they can become nippy and jumpy or even attack their bonded cage mate when scared or when they sense stress in the air.

    Bonding and socializing sugar gliders can take time, especially if you have a high-stress sugar glider on your hands. Start with short amounts of handling and build up the trust. Slowly build up the frequency and amount of time you spend with your gliders.

    Because sugar gliders bond by scent, make sure your scent is in and around the cage. Leave a T-shirt or sock you've worn but not washed in the cage.

    Once your sugar gliders are used to you, you can let them run around on you. Depending on how well you socialize your gliders, you may be able to place them in a glider-safe room with perches and ramps to run and play on.

    If your gliders aren’t housebroken, they may pee and poop on you.

Considerations

  • Before you jump into raising and caring for sugar gliders, do all the research you can. Talk with breeders and rescues, and find a veterinarian you can go to for health and illness questions.

    Sugar gliders generally clean and groom themselves, so you generally will never need to bathe them. If your sugar glider is not grooming, consult your veterinarian.

    Have male sugar gliders neutered to reduce scenting and territory marking behaviors.

    Clean the cage, toys, pouches and area around the cage regularly to reduce smell and hygiene concerns.

    Use a small travel pillow case as a bonding pouch. Or make one with fleece material; just make sure the inside of the pouch is free of stray threads and frays, as sugar gliders have tiny claws that can get tangled in the threads.

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References

  • Photo Credit pigphoto/iStock/Getty Images praisaeng/iStock/Getty Images Evgeny Sergeev/iStock/Getty Images
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