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A Sugar What??
A Sugar Glider, "Petarus Breviceps", is a small marsupial native to Australia, Indonesia, and surrounding areas. They are becoming increasingly popular as pets.
Are they rodents? I was told they're as easy to own as a hamster.
No, sugar gliders are Marsupials. They require a much stricter care regimen including a balanced diet, a large cage, daily interaction and a glider friendly vet. Please NEVER allow a vet to "float"/trim your glider's teeth!
Are they good pets?
They can be, but it requires a large amount of love and devotion. They're not your average small pet that can be left alone for a weekend while you go on vacation, they're illegal in some cities and states, they require a specialized vet (most often in the middle of the night when they're awake). Unlike their rodent counterparts (hamsters, gerbils, etc.), they are expensive if managed properly. Having them become a good pet depends in large part on the thought and planning you put in before acquiring a glider, as well as the time and love spent once you choose your glider.
How long do they live?
They live an average of 12 to 15 years in captivity.
Do I need a vet?
Yes! You will need not only a glider vet for normal hours, but a good glider emergency vet as many times the need for a vet arises during the night while your gliders are up and active.
What do they eat?
Gliders require a specialized diet with a delicate balance of protein, calcium, fruits, veggies and other important nutrients. There are many commonly accepted diets including (but not limited to): BML, Priscilla's Diet, The HPW Diet and Darcy's Diet (aka the Ensure diet).
Can I have them any place I live?
That depends on where you live. They are illegal in some states as well as in some cities and counties in otherwise legal states. Please visit Sugar Glider State Restrictions for a more in depth look at if they're legal where you live. If you have any doubts about the legality, please contact local officials for information on any restrictions on owning exotic pets in your area.
What is the proper way to house them?
They need what may seem like a humongous cage. Minimum cage dimensions for 1 to 2 gliders is 2 feet wide, 2 feet deep and 3 feet high. Bigger is always better as is more height. Cages should be powder or pvc coated, never galvanized (galvanized wire can lead to UTI's). Bar spacing should be no larger than 1/2" wide as they can squeeze through the bars. I prefer reptariums (so long as you don't have a chewer), and my gliders are happily housed in 175 gallon repts.
What kinds of toys can they have?
There are many vendors who make toys specifically for gliders. You can also use baby toys and bird toys. You want to avoid jingle bells that they may have any contact with as they can get a toe caught in the slot causing serious injury. You also want to avoid cat toys and any other toys that may have had contact with catnip as catnip is toxic to gliders!
Do they need a heat source?
In most cases, no. A sick or debilitated glider may need a heating pad, but they should be used with extreme care and caution to avoid burns. In ALL cases you should avoid heat rocks! They have been known to cause serious burns and in some cases death. I personally prefer a SnuggleSafe heating pad as they're made specifically for animals, there are no cords, and they don't get hot enough to burn if the directions are properly followed. They also have fleece covers and stay warm for up to 12 hours.
Can I use a flash when I take pictures?
Yes, you can use a flash. If possible, diffuse the flash (assuming you have a standard on-camera flash) by covering it [partially] with a piece of paper or white fleece, this will help avoid washed-out shots.
What do I do if my glider is acting sick?
Get to a vet IMMEDIATELY! Gliders are very adept at hiding their illnesses and once they show signs of being sick they're very sick and need to see the vet now.
Can I play with them during the day?
In most cases, no. Gliders are nocturnal, thus sleeping during the day. Some so have early morning play time, but that would depend on the glider's preferences and schedule. They should have at the very minimum an hour of play/out of cage time! We do nightly tent time with ours as well as bonding time throughout the day.
Do I need more than one?
You don't need more than one, but a single glider in most cases will be extremely lonely and can get depressed. Depression causes detrimental health effects including self-mutilation and in some cases death. Think of being on an alien planet full of giants. They give you a palace, a nightly smorgasbord, toys galore and lots of love. But, they sleep while you're awake and they don't speak the same language as you. Wouldn't you be happier with a friend of your own kind to play with? I know I would!
Why neuter my pet boy?
Neutering has a great health benefit, eliminating the chance for testicular cancer. It also helps regulate hormone levels, often resulting in a more loving boy. They will also smell less. Neutering leaves open more choices for a mate if you don't want joeys.
Do I need a license to own one?
In some places yes. You will also need a USDA license if you have more than 3 breeding females.
Do rescues make good pets?
Yes! Most rescues will help match a glider's personality to their prospective new slave. Some rescue gliders may have issues requiring an experienced owner, but most will make wonderful pets with some time and love, and the rescue will do their very best to match you with your ideal glider(s).
What is the best age to get a joey?
A joey should be a minimum of 8-10 weeks Out Of Pouch before they go to their new home.
Are gliders prone to certain health conditions/illnesses?
There are several illnesses that are becoming increasingly prevalent and therefore something to be on the lookout for. Suz' Sugar Gliders has a great page to read on Health & Your Glider
What is the best fabric to use for toys and pouches?
The safest material is fleece. Some also use cotton or flannel as an outside layer with a fleece lining. All seams need to be hidden and pouches should be checked daily for loose threads and other potential hazards.
Does my glider need a bath? Do they smell?
Gliders groom themselves and unless sick or injured should not need a bath. Some gliders, especially un-neutered males, have a musky smell. Any unusual lack of grooming or smell warrants a vet check.
Do Sugar Gliders bite?
Yes! Anything with teeth has the potential to bite. Gliders will also groom you, which can be mistaken for biting, but more often is a scraping of their teeth on your skin.
Can I let my glider run loose in my house?
Gliders should only be let loose in a glider-proofed area, and then, it's only recommended under supervision. If loose in the house, they can fit in really small spaces and having them loose can result in them being squished, drowning in a toilet or other water source (gliders cannot swim and therefore can drown in a negligible amount of water), harmed or killed by other pets, as well as the potential to eat something toxic to them.
Can I use crickets and peanuts as treats?
Both treats can contain aflatoxins which is caused by mold. Aflatoxins cause irreversible damage and death in gliders. If you can be certain the crickets were raised in a good manner with no corn bedding, they carry no greater risk than feeding mealworms.
Can I let my glider play with my cat, dog or other pets?
While it may look "cute" and no matter how docile, sweet or loving you feel your cat (or dog) is, it's never a good idea. All it takes is a split second and your glider becomes a snack! Gliders in the wild eat birds, rodents and other small animals, and would therefore look at a bird, hamster, even a lizard as a tasty treat. Ferrets will hunt a glider. So, while you may want to allow your glider to interact with your other pets, the best companion is another glider.