Sugar gliders can be playful and rewarding companion pets. However, adorable marsupials require a significant amount of specialized care, nutrition and socialization time to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Our Seattle vets share some points you should consider if you're thinking about keeping a sugar glider as a pet.
About Sugar Gliders
While they may look like rodents, sugar gliders are actually marsupials in the same family as koalas and kangaroos. These adorable little animals have pouches for carrying their young and folds of skin that stretch from their wrists to their sides which allow them to glide from tree to tree in the wild.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal—meaning they are only active at night— and generally weigh between 2.5 and 5.5 ounces. Wild and "classic" sugar gliders have a distinctive black dorsal stripe and a white belly, while ones bred in captivity can have many different fur colors and patterns.
In their natural habitat, sugar gliders live in groups of 6-10 and are very social, living on average 6 to 7 years.
Keeping Sugar Gliders As Pets
Are Sugar Gliders Good Pets?
Sugar gliders are available from breeders, pet stores and shelters across the United States and make excellent exotic pets. These creatures are caring, social and curious, often closely bonding with families for life.
So, are sugar gliders good pets? The short answer is - for some people, yes, but they aren't for everyone.
It's important to note - before adopting one as a pet - that they are quite time-intensive as pets and our Seattle exotic animal vets advise you to take some time to learn about them and their needs before considering getting one as a companion.
But what are the needs of sugar gliders as pets?
You may have heard that there is a bonding—or taming—process involved in introducing sugar gliders to life as a companion animal.
They require daily handling and play to become comfortable with their owners, otherwise, they can become nippy. because of this, sugar gliders may not be ideal pets for families with young children.
With their natural affinity for pouches, sugar gliders often will curl up in a pocket or specially-designed sugar glider pouch to feel safe and secure.
Housing and Stimulation
Sugar gliders require a large cage to let them get exercise by jumping, leaping and gliding around. The bare minimum size of the cage is generally considered to be 3' by 2' by 3'. Sugar gliders also have a well-deserved reputation as excellent escape artists, so it's important to ensure that the bars of your pet's cage aren't too far apart.
Your gilder's cage should include a number of platforms, toys and stimulating activities like bird toys, swings and rodent wheels.
As well, you should almost never have only one sugar glider as a pet. These creatures are incredibly social by nature, so on top of daily handling and play, they will need a companion to keep them company.
Sugar gliders are omnivores and have quite specific nutritional needs that must be met for them to stay healthy.
Despite what you might think, sugar gliders eat very little fruit as part of their diet.
And, while there is no ideal sugar glider diet, it's generally a safe bet to divide their diet into 3 parts. Half of their daily intake can be commercial pellets, a quarter should be green, left vegetables and the final quarter is a protein such as cooked egg, lean meat and insects.
Regardless of the specifics of your sugar gilder's diet, diversity and variety are essential.
Sugar gliders, just like any other pet, are susceptible to various conditions and illnesses. Some of the most common of these found in sugar gliders are dental health issues, weight problems and stress-related diseases.
Issues like oral health and weight issues often stem from improper nutrition. Overly sugary foods can cause obesity and tooth decay in your sugar glider and an improper diet can just as easily cause malnourishment.
Likewise, if you don't give your nocturnal sugar gliders ample chance to sleep throughout the day, they will often develop stress-related disorders and conditions.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.