Behavior and temperament of sugar gliders
Many people find sugar gliders to be adorable and entertaining as pets. They are agile like to climb and glide from place to place when their space allows. Since they are nocturnal animals (meaning they are most active at night), they like to curl up in a cozy nest to sleep during the day.
As they are social animals, it is usually ideal to have more than one sugar glider, one male, and at least one female. However, they should be kept away from other domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, as they can harm each other.
Regular human contact is very important if you want your sugar glider to bond with you. Carrying a sugar glider in your shirt pocket or in a bag that hangs around your neck is an easy way to interact with it throughout the day. If your butterfly is not used to being touched, it may take a little time for him to snuggle with you. Sugar gliders are not usually aggressive pets, but they may bite if they feel threatened or frightened. It is important to be very patient and gentle when dealing with them.
Sugar gliders are also quite noisy pets and make various noises when they are upset, scared, hungry, and more. When they are angry, they usually make a warning sound before attempting to bite. You can hear this sound when you wake up a sleeping glider.
An enclosure 36 inches wide, 24 inches deep, and 36 inches high is a good minimum size for a pair of sugar gliders. Bigger is always better, and height is more valuable than floor space because of the climbing and sliding activities of these small marsupials.
Spacing between cage wires should be no more than half an inch, and bars should be level to facilitate climbing. The inside of the cage should have plenty of toys and an enclosed runner (to keep the canopy’s tail from getting caught). Branches, ropes, and ladders also provide opportunities for climbing, playing, and moving around. Install a nest box near the top of the enclosure where your glider can feel secure and sleep.
The latch on the cage door should be very secure, as gliders are intelligent and have learned to open simple latches.
Keep the cage out of direct sunlight and drafts, and keep the room temperature between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Special requirements for the substrate
Line the bottom of the sugar glider cage with newspaper or another recycled paper product that is non-toxic if ingested. Replace paper and clean cage surfaces and toys with soap and water at least once a week. Most diseases in sugar gliders are due to unsanitary living conditions.
What do sugar gliders eat and drink?
Sugar gliders have fairly strict dietary requirements. In the wild, nectar and tree sap are on the menu of sugar gliders. However, sugar gliders are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals.
For sugar gliders as pets, variations of Bourbon’s Modified Leadbeater (BML) are popular as homemade food. Honey, calcium powder and baby mush are often used in these recipes to provide adequate nutrition for your glider. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be offered in moderation, i.e., less than 10% of the total diet, as many lack essential vitamins, minerals, and protein and are mostly water. Many owners place meals in small food bowls in the morning and evening. However, some sugar gliders graze rather than eat an entire meal at once. So don’t worry if anything is left over, but dispose of the leftovers before the next meal so they don’t spoil.
Ask your veterinarian about the optimal amount of food for your glider, as it can vary depending on age, size, and activity. Also, always keep a bowl or water bottle in the cage, which should be renewed at least daily.
General health issues
Sugar gliders are very sensitive to stress when they are awakened and taken out of the cage during the day. They have even been known to self-mutilate (bite and scratch) when under stress. Housing sugar gliders that don’t get along or an enclosure that is too small are two of the main stressors for these sensitive little creatures. If you notice signs of self-mutilation, such as hair loss, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she can help identify the problem and suggest lifestyle changes.
Sugar gliders are also susceptible to some bacterial and parasitic infections.2 For example, giardia, a single-celled parasite, can cause dehydration, lethargy, and weight loss.3 Most bacterial and parasitic infections occur from improperly washed fruits and vegetables, so any food given to sugar gliders must be thoroughly cleaned.
In addition, many problems occur in sugar gliders due to malnutrition. A malnourished sugar glider may be thin, lethargic, and have pale gums. Low calcium and blood sugar levels are often the culprits. This often leads to anemia and can lead to more serious health problems such as kidney and liver disease and metabolic bone disease (which can lead to bone fractures).
In addition, dental disease is quite common in sugar gliders due to their sugary diet. If your sugar glider has dental problems, you may notice that it is eating less or that it has a bad odor coming from its mouth. In that case, a dental cleaning at the veterinarian, who can give you advice on oral hygiene, is probably in order.
Sugar gliders are very active animals. This is one of the reasons they need such a large enclosure. They need branches and ropes and anything else they can safely climb on, including wheels and running balls.
Sugar gliders molt minimally, if at all. There is no need to worry about their coat, unless it appears unkempt, in which case a visit to the veterinarian would be in order.
Bathing and grooming
Sugar gliders are very low maintenance and it is not necessary to bathe your pets. They bathe by spitting in your hands.
Adult sugar gliders measure between 5 and 8 inches, not including the tail, and weigh between 2 and 5 ounces.
How to train your sugar glider
Sugar gliders generally cannot be potty trained, but are otherwise fairly clean pets. Once their enclosure is set up, they are fairly easy to care for. The biggest care needs are a balanced diet and socialization.
Advantages and disadvantages of having a sugar glider as a pet
On the plus side, they are fun and active and live longer than other “pocket pets.” They are also clean and rarely bite. On the negative side, it takes more than one sugar glider to meet their social needs, they are nocturnal so they are not as much fun during the day, and they don’t get along with other pets you may have.
Buying a Sugar Glider
Look for a reputable breeder or rescue organization to purchase a sugar glider. A breeder must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Avoid buying online, where you can’t interact with the animal before committing. And try to talk to others who have also purchased an animal from that seller. A breeder should also be able to provide you with your new pet’s pedigree, as well as its history, so you can be sure it has been ethically bred and is healthy.
The seller should be able to provide detailed information about the animal’s pedigree, health, and temperament. Ask to visit the animal before taking it home and look for abnormalities such as lethargy, difficulty moving, or abnormal droppings. The average price ranges from $100 to $500; young gliders are more expensive