Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Owning Sugar Gliders
Sugar Gliders often referred to as flying squirrels are actually marsupials found mostly in Australia.
I have owned and bred these fantastic animals for years and believe me, they make great pets for some but bad pets for most. Please do as much research as you can before deciding to purchase one for a pet.
A Sugar What?.......
Important things you should know about Sugar Gliders
What is a Sugar Glider?:A sugar glider(Petaurus Breviceps) is a small marsupial (an animal with a pouch: a mammal, for example a kangaroo, an opossum or a kangaroo having no placenta and bearing immature young that are developed in pouch on the mother's abdomen) They come from Australia and are considered exotic animals. They are not related to flying squirrels
Appearance:An adult sugar gliders head and body measure about 5 to 6 inches in length with a tail equal in length to aid in balance and gliding. Sugar gliders have hairless ears, that can be moved independently in order to pick up the smallest sounds. Sugar gliders come in a variety of colours but the most common colour you will find is gray with a long black stripe that runs from it's nose to the end of the back, with a cream coloured underside. The last inch or so of the tail is also black. However many different colour mutations have developed while having these animals in captivity. They have large protruding eyes, like most nocturnal animals, to allow for a wider field of vision. A sugar glider has five digits on each forefoot, with sharp claws to help grip branches. The hind feet also have 5 digits, and include a partially fused together 2nd and 3rd digit used for a grooming comb. There is also an enlarged, clawless, opposable big toe. The sugar glider has a patagium, a furred membrane of skin that they spread out while jumping that connects to the wrists and ankles on each side of the glider.
Smell:There is a smell that comes with the sugar glider, as they do have sent glands. There are things you can do, such as, having a male fixed, using ferret cage deodorizer, or use Elimina or Premira on their food. Also regular cage cleaning is a must. A male may mark you with his scent to claim you as his. Some owners add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to neutralize the urine and musky smell with some success.
Stats:The life span for a captive sugar glider is about 12-15 years, providing they have a healthy diet and exercise. That means 5,478 nights of, chopping up fresh fruit and vegies, touching bugs, balancing meals, cleaning cages, and spending quality time with your glider. Being that sugar gliders are very social animals, having only one, you must handle it a minimum of 3 hours each night, not doing so can lead to depression, and ultimately other health problems. Sugar gliders weigh about 5 ounces for an average male, and about 4 ounces for a female.
Sugar Glider Diet
Sugar Glider Diet Information
In the wild, sugar gliders have a high energy diet that has a fairly high level of protein. In captivity, they should be offered a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and animal protein. Fruits and veggies can be fresh or frozen but not canned.
Good sources of protein are red meat, poultry, eggs and insects.
- Meat and poultry (skinned and boneless) should be lean cooked (NOT FRIED or with any SEASONING or PRESERVATIVES on it).
-Insects can be live or freeze dried. DO NOT feed insect from in or out of the house that might have come in contact with pesticides, or might have parasites.
-Eggs can be hard boiled or scambled but never serve raw.
do not feed tuna as it can cause severe vitamin "E" deficiency and other problems.
Protein should make up at least 40-50% of your gliders diet.
They should also be given a vitamin/mineral supplement and calcium. Water is critical to sugar gliders; if they are without it for more than a day, they can dehydrate rapidly and die
When it comes to fruits and veggies try to remember that your sugar gliders will really appreciated variety and even if they don't eat something the first time you offer it, keep trying it and they will eventually give it a try. I always try to feed foods that have higher calcium to phosphorus ratio. Here is a web site that gives these ratios for fruits.
Here are some ideas for foods to try with your sugar gliders.
FruitsApples, nectarine, melons (water, honey dew, cantalope), grapes, sultanas, figs, tomatoes, grapes, oranges, pears, peaches, apricots, plums,cherries, bananas, avocados, berries, kiwi, mangos, papayas, passion fruits, pineapple.
VeggiesCorn, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut pumpkins, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash (butternut, gooseneck, acorn), cucumbers, red & yellow bell peppers, peas, yams.
Other foods they like include:Applesauce
Yogurt with live cultures, various flavors
Baby foods are also good, if you only have a few gliders -- fruits, sweet vegetables, and vegetable/meat mixtures are all well-received
Foods not to feed your sugar gliders:Chocolate - It causes a toxic chemical reaction in most animals
Rhubarb - Poisonous
Onion - Poisonous
Garlic - Poisonous
Potato eyes - poisonous
Turnip - poisonous
Cheese - May cause intestinal stoppage or "binding" leading to constipation
Iceberg lettuce - Non nutritional
Fats - you will want to watch the fat content
Some pits from fruits can be poison to sugar gliders
Give some of these recipes a try
Modified Leadbeaters Mix
This is just my staple diet, along with this they get fresh fruits and veggies nightly as well as protein sources like eggs and bugs.
This sugar glider recipe freezes to about the consistency of ice cream, so it's easy to scoop out a serving of it each night
Apple Juice 1/2 cup
Honey 1/2 cup
Gerber Baby cereal (dry flakes) 1/2 cup
Boiled egg 2 (I leave the shell on)
Wheat Germ 1/4 cup
Herptivite Vitamin Supplement 1 tsp
Rep-Cal (Calcium supplement with no phosphorus) 1 1/4 tsp
Store in the Freezer
Sometimes I will add a 1 4oz bottle PREMIXED Gerber juice with yogurt (Mixed Fruit or Banana) or a 2 1/2 oz jar of Stage 1 or 2 Heinz, Gerber or Beechnut Chicken baby food
Using 100 pound test fishing line, attach a bell at the bottom and string Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios and Multi Grain Cheerios together. Tie to the cage--they love it!!
Crushed, plain shredded wheat and eggs
Mix together and scramble like a pancake.
Cooked shredded chicken, eggs(beaten well)Mixed vegetables, Apple(chopped).
Make omelet, and top with melons, grapes, pineapples and a sprinkling of The Pet Glider Complete multivitamin. Variation: Turkey, sweet potato and apple with sugar snap peas, red bell pepper & peaches. Delicious!
Pina Colada Smoothie Mix:
Frozen mixed fruit, Container Pina Colada flavored yogurt, 1/4 tsp Karo syrup, Apple or orange juice to blend. Blend together and serve! Delicious!
Chicken Pot Pie:
1/2 cup diced chicken breast(boiled, skinned and boneless)
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, 2 raw eggs,
1 small sweet potato(boiled, peeled and chopped up)
In mixing bowl, combine ingredients well. Spray mini-muffin pans with Pam and fill to top. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until beginning to brown, at 350 degrees.
Sugar gliders Love Crickets
This is the most amazing poster ever, I purchased it from Allposters.com
Another great site
Check out the Sugar Glider Superstore
Watch a Sugar Glider fly through the air!
Important Facts About Sugar Glider Cages
A sugar gliders cage should be as big as you can manage, although no smaller than 30x24x36 inches high for one or two gliders.
Height is a very important thing with glider cages, as they must have room to glide and your glider feels safer the higher up it is. The wire bars of the cage should be no more than 1/2 inche apart. It is better to have enameled wire, never use galvanized wire as its harder to clean and has also been linked to health issues. PVC coated chicken wire is a good choice. Do not use screen for your cage, because their nails can get caught in it.
The cage location should be chosen carefully. Choose a location where the gliders can hear and see some of the daily activity in the house but that is not constantly loud all the time. Sugar gliders should not be in a room with loud birds, as this will cause stress. Gliders prefer being high up, so if your cage is not a ceiling to floor cage, place it on a sturdy table. Room temperature should be between 65-75 F.
In the wild, sugar gliders sleep in hollow trees lined with leaves. Place the gliders sleeping area at the top of the cage as this is where they feel safer. Many people will put two or three sleeping areas in the cage as the gliders like to change spots from time to time. Sleeping pouches are similar to bonding pouches, but have clips to attach the pouch to the side or top of the cage.
Other ideas would be small bird nesting boxes or chinchilla dust bath houses.
If you are going to use hanging bird dishes, I would recommend placing them high up in the cage as they are less likely to get spoiled by waste falling into them. I also regularly use paper plates so that im not always washing food dishes. Some people recommend having more than one feeding dish if you have 2 or more sugar gliders as one glider could become dominate and not allow the others to eat. This has never happened to me but you may want to observe your gliders.
Perches of different levels and sizes will allow your glider to exercise his feet muscles. Sugar gliders love natural branches and love to chew off the bark, you must make sure that the wood you use is non toxic to your gliders and that they have not been exposed to pesticides. Plastic or fleece vines are also a great addition and loved by many a glider.
Sugar gliders are very playfull and interactive animals. They should always have
Some Tips To Help You Bond With Your Sugar Glider
Bonding can be a very slow process. Depending on the glider it could take days, weeks or months. Every glider is different and you have to work at their speed not yours.
Getting that bond with your glider takes a lot of PATIENCE, but is well worth the effort.
Make sure you have a bonding pouch that you can put them in to carry them around in during the day, This is so they can get use to your scent and voice, as that is how they Identify you.
I also recommend getting a small kids tent that you can go into with the gliders. When you're in the tent the gliders end up playing and climbing on and off you and they learn that you are safe to be with.
If you don't have a tent you could use a small room like a bathroom that has been glider proofed.
make sure all holes around pipes, space heaters, and cabinets have been seeled off and always make sure to put the toilet seat down as this is the #1 death trap for gliders.
Introducing 2 Sugar Gliders
So how do you introduce them?
Everyone knows that having 2 Sugar Gliders is best but if you don't get them from the same litter you may have to work at the bonding process.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow
Never introduce an adult male to a juvenile female
Always make sure they are as close to the same size as possible
Never introduce an un neutered male to a neutered male
Don't let them fight
Start with 2 cages side by side and switch out their pouches and toys for a week and allow them to become familiar with each others scents.
If they don't appear to be too upset with each other and are sniffing each other from across the cages you can try to let them out to play together. I recommend using a small play tent so that they will have to come in contact with each other.
After a week of playtime and pouch swapping you can try putting them in a cage together.
Wash all the toys and pouches so that there are no scents and try to place two of everything at opposite ends of the cage.
Its never the best idea to put one glider into another gliders cage, the new glider would be invading the others home and may get attacked, if you don't have a new cage to put them both into then try putting the most dominant one in the submissive ones cage. The best time of the day to do this would be day time as they are most sleepy at this time.
There is bound to be some scuffles so be prepared to separate them if it gets too intense. If everything goes well there should be a round of sniffing and hopefully they will both return to the pouch, cuddle up and go back to sleep.
Have you decided a Sugar Glider is the right pet for you? Here is a shopping list of what you will need.
Shopping For Your Sugar Glider
Cage- the bigger the better, no smaller than 30x24x36 inches high, with 1/2 inch bar spacing, tall is better than long. Be sure that all materials used for the cage are safe for sugar gliders.
Bedding- examples are white paper towels, corn cob bedding, fleece, carefresh, or newspaper (be sure the glider has a minimum of 3 inches of clearance and can not reach the newspaper)
Food Dishes- I like to use paper plates, some people will cover the dishes with plastic containers or plastic igloos to keep the waste out of the food. Other ideas are hanging bird dishes, heavy ashtrays, or heavy small animal dishes.
Water bottle- A water bottle or water dish. I prefere water bottles as the water is less likely to get spoiled.
Diet supplies, ingredients, and products needed for your gliders diet- Research your diet carefully and make a list of everything needed.
Sleeping quarters- They like it warm and dark. Examples are pouches and/or nest boxes
Bonding Pouch- This is important to help in bonding with your new glider.
Wheel- must have a solid running base and no moving parts that can catch the gliders tail or feet. The wodent wheel is a great example.
Toys-gliders love toys! Cat toys, bird toys, hamster toys, even some infant toys. Check to be sure they are safe for your gliders before giving them any new toy. Always make sure that cat toys don't contain any catnip as this is highly toxic to gliders.
Branches and Perches- Very important for any gliders habitat. If using branches from the outside be sure they are safe, non toxic to gliders, sterilized, and not treated with chemicals.
Vet- Not all vets treat sugar gliders. A knowledgeable vet should be located before you bring your glider home.
First Aid Kit- Be prepared!
Before you bring your glider home, make sure you have all the items on the above list. The cage should be set up with food, water bottle, warm sleeping quarters, and a few toys. At this point, don't overdo it with toys, as you don't want a lot of toys to distract the sugar gliders from wanting to interact with you. As the bonding progresses, you can slowly add more toys . You may want to prepare your gliders food the night before.
Searchable encyclopedia full of information about sugar gliders.
Check Out These Great Sugar Glider Books
Cute Glider Videos On YouTube
Some other good Sugar Glider sites
Check out this cool Sugar Glider costume!
Do you already own or are planning on getting a Sugar Glider? I would love to hear from you.