These tiny marsupials, native to the forests of New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia, grow to about the size of your hand. Generally healthy, sturdy little critters, sugar gliders tend to have few medical problems. In captivity, their life span is as long as 14 years.
Are sugar gliders good pets? Yep. But they aren’t hamsters or gerbils! They require almost as much care as a cat. Not only will you need to feed your glider, but you should be prepared to spend serious cash creating the habitat. They’re social creatures, and they need companionship.
Because they live in colonies, sugar gliders should not be alone, even if you’re a full-time, stay-at-home pet owner. Always give your glider a buddy or two. Same-sex gliders make the best pairs and groups. Males will become aggressive and territorial if females are part of the group.
Unfortunately, sugar gliders are considered rare and exotic animals in the U.S., so they are not legal in every state. So check first to make sure you can have one where you live.
Curious, intelligent and active, sugar gliders love to play with their humans. They bond deeply, so they enjoy spending time with you, engaging in all sorts of fun activities. If you’d like to take them on outings, they love to cuddle in a warm pocket.
They’ll climb just about any vertical surface, just so they can jump down in their trademark “glide” position, which almost looks like flying. They also like to explore, so although you can let them out of their habitats whenever you’d like, make sure you’re there to supervise. Well-socialized gliders are friendly and can accompany you on outings.
Caring for Your Sugar Glider
These critters eat vegetables, fruits, protein, insects and a variety of common household foods, like scrambled eggs, yogurt, nuts and fruit juice. Place several feeding stations in their cage and make sure they always have fresh water.
Sugar Glider Habitats
Sugar gliders like large habitats that measure at least 20″ x 20″ 36″, such as a multi-level ferret enclosure or large bird cage. The space must be taller than it is wide, and it should be as large as possible. They like to move around and need a large amount of space. Place the habitat on an elevated surface in a quiet area away from direct sunlight.
Create a cozy, fun-filled space by installing lots of multi-level surfaces, like boxes, ledges and bars; these pets love to climb, jump and glide. They also like toys, like swings, tunnels and wheels, similar to what you see in the hamster or bird supply section of your local pet store. Provide your sugar gliders with a nice sleeping space, such as a hollow tree section or bird nesting box, or give them a fleece sleeping pouch.
Want to Know More?
Sugar Gliders: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, by Caroline Wightman, is an invaluable source of information about these playful marsupials. This handy manual discusses caging, feeding, maintaining a proper environment, breeding, health care and more. Contains step-by-step instructions and vivid color photos. This paperback is available on Amazon for about $5. (Find out more.)