Raise Sugar Gliders

Edited by Mian Sheilette Ong, Anonymous, Rebecca M., Robbi and 3 others

There are dog people, cat people, and fish people. If you are not any one of these pet lovers, then you may be somewhere along the lines of the exotic.

Do you think and feel you are ready to take on a much more challenging pet at home? If you are nodding your head with enthusiasm now, then you would probably like to consider getting a sugar glider.

Peraurus breviceps (Latin word for "short-headed rope-dancer), commonly known as the sugar glider, is much smaller than a dog or a cat. It is arboreal and omnivorous.

It is known as a gliding possum, and categorized as a marsupial. The name "sugar glider" comes from the animal's preference for sugary or sweet foods and their gliding ability similar to that of the flying squirrel. If you want to experience a different kind of pet relationship, then you should know how to raise a sugar glider the best way you can.

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Considerations in Choosing the Right Sugar Glider

The following are important considerations in raising your sugar glider:

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  1. 1
    Choosing the sex.
    Females have a distinctive slit on their bellies. This is the pouch where they will keep their young ones someday. Males have a button in that area where a pouch would be if they were females.
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  2. 2
    The Adjustment Period.
    Take note that all sugar gliders need to adjust to their new environment. New things and sensations will be presented to them and you should be patient enough to help them cope. Unlike puppies or kittens, sugar gliders are not going to cuddle with you immediately, mainly because they're scared to be in a new place with new humans, so be ready to be lunged at or bitten before you can earn their trust. Every sugar glider is unique so there is no fixed period of adjustment for them. With this under consideration, you should have the patience to endure this period. This is the main reason why many pet owners give up their sugar gliders after too short of a time. They just don't understand that it may take a while before their sugar glider warms up to them.
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  3. 3
    Bonding.
    Remember that sugar gliders are not for everyone. They should not be given to a small child. Sudden reactions or loud noises are disliked by sugar gliders. You should not give a sugar glider to children until they are old enough to be respectful of the animals' needs. The true bond that you're looking for may not happen for weeks or even months.
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  4. 4
    Temperament.
    The temperament of sugar gliders is not dependent on their sex. Neutering will not make any difference in improving the male gliders' behavior. Males are territorial, especially as they grow older. If you choose to neuter the male sugar glider that you get, you need to have to talk to your vet about it.
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  5. 5
    Interaction.
    Sugar gliders are very social. That is why you should never get just one glider. Even if you are very attentive to your glider, nothing can match the company of another sugar glider. You should keep at least two gliders if it's your first time to care for these pets. A single glider will easily become depressed, stressed, and sick. It could even resort to self-mutilation.
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  6. 6
    Health and hygiene.
    If you want a clean pet that doesn't require annual vaccinations, sugar gliders are great for you. It is not true that sugar gliders have Girarda the moment they are born. Like any other animal, sugar gliders will only get this parasite if they are exposed to an infected sugar glider or any other infested animal. If the sugar glider's parents have Girarda, the joeys will have it before they leave their pouches. Subject your sugar glider to Girarda testing to treat the condition as soon as possible. Gliders are prone to Cocci bacteria, which is not parasitic. Treatment of Cocci can last for 36-48 hours. If the glider has rare coloration in its bloodline, it is prone to having stress Cocci. Bring your glider to the vet within the first 72 hours of their stay in your home. Girarda and Cocci both manifest first in the form of diarrhea. The gliders would not be able to clean themselves and they would look filthy all the time. Sugar gliders are prone to HLP (hind leg paralysis) because of calcium deficiency or too much calcium in their diet.
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  7. 7
    Night activity.
    Sugar gliders are creatures of the night. They do not like to be exposed to bright lights and loud noises. They have large eyes so they are well equipped to see in the dark. If you play with them at night they will not come out if you have bright lights on. You could have a room with dim lighting exclusively for your gliders. If you force them to be active during the day or under bright lights, you will only stress them out.
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  8. 8
    Glider sounds.
    Sugar gliders produce a sound similar to a bee-hive. Other interesting noises are produced when your female glider has offspring. The joeys produce clacking noises to call their mother. They somewhat bark and that could go on for long periods of time. If you are not in favor of hearing such sounds during the night, then you should keep your sugar gliders in another room.
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  9. 9
    Getting the glider.
    Ideally, the glider should be released at 10 weeks. Any younger gliders will not have the necessary skills that they should learn from their parents. Have second thoughts if the breeder wants to release the glider when it is only 6 to 8 weeks old. Gliders that are too young will be prone to long-term mental and emotional stress. At 10 weeks, they are ready to be in your home. Be careful when you purchase gliders from malls or glider mills. Backyard breeders release their joeys at younger than 3 weeks old and this is not good for the joey or you.
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How to Raise Your Sugar Gliders

The following are basic tips on how to raise your sugar gliders properly:

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  1. 1
    Introduction.
    Introducing sugar gliders is easiest when the gliders you have are properly weaned and young. It's ideal to get them before they get territorial.
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  2. 2
    Keeping gliders of the same sex.
    You can keep two females or two males. However, if you prefer males, make sure that you neuter both of them at three and a half months to prevent excretion of territorial scents, which do not smell pleasant at all. Neutering them will also keep them from hurting each other because of territorial behavior. You can relax around unsprayed females. It is not ideal to spay them because it is too dangerous and they may die of excessive blood loss. Do not go to a vet that performs banding on male gliders. The gliders will just end up self-mutilating themselves to remove that band from their scrotal area.
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  3. 3
    Detecting sick gliders.
    In their natural environment, gliders will not show symptoms for as long as they can help it. If they do, the other gliders will isolate them, kick them out of the colony, or even kill them. Sick gliders will attract predators, which will put the colony in danger.
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  4. 4
    Providing shelter.
    Sugar gliders need a secure and safe place. This is where their cage comes into the picture. Always choose tall cages (52 inches high) made of iron (heavy-duty). The spacing of the grills should not allow them to squeeze out. Do not get galvanized wiring for the cage because this causes urinary tract infection. Wood harbors pathogenic bacteria and urine. Do not choose PVC coated wire cages because this is toxic and fatal to sugar gliders.
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  5. 5
    Provide toys and decoration.
    Sugar gliders love to climb and play. Just choose those that they cannot swallow, choke on, or rip apart. Also see to it that the toys are not sharp. They love wheels for exercise as well, but be sure there are no holes in them. Their legs could be easily caught in them. Use a wheel guard for the axle to prevent tails and feet from getting injured.
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  6. 6
    Be choosy with sleeping fabric.
    Make sure that the sleeping places you provide for your glider are made of cotton flannel or fleece. Choose the same materials for their pouches to carry them around in.
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  7. 7
    Keep them warm.
    Provide blankets and a portable heater for your gliders. Never place hot rocks in the cage. This is dangerous.
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  8. 8
    Supervise them well when you let them roam.
    Take note that gliders have the thinking ability of a toddler. Always keep an eye on them. If you are going to do something else, just put them back into their cage.
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  9. 9
    Provide a play area.
    For this, you can use a camping tent and fill it with toys. This will allow the bonding process to go more smoothly. This way, the gliders will learn to accept you as part of their colony.
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  10. 10
    Keep other animals away.
    Other animals are seen as predators. It is best to keep them away to provide more security for your gliders. Even the gentlest dog or cat can give in to temptation. Do not keep gerbils and hamsters with your gliders. They are omnivorous and they can try to eat your other pets.
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  11. 11
    Clean the cages once or maybe twice a month.
    Use vinegar for cleaning cages. This is a safe cleaning agent for your gliders. It is natural and will not cause harm to your glider's health.
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  12. 12
    Use commercial litter, absorbent pads, or fleece for catching glider waste.
    These are safe for gliders. Avoid using kitty litter or other substrates that have chemicals.
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  13. 13
    Provide a high quality diet and the right supplementation.
    Gliders need a 1:2 (phosphorous:calcium) ratio. You can provide pellets, but not as a sole source of nutrients. Give them mostly proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Bugs such as mealworms should only be given as treats. Choose bugs that are fed organic substances and are not filled with hormones.
    It's a friendly sugar glider.....jpg
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Breeding Considerations

Breeding sugar gliders is not for first time glider owners. It is a serious endeavor. With this, take note of the following considerations before deciding to breed sugar gliders:

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  1. 1
    Own gliders for at least two years before you breed.
    This will be enough time to learn the ins and outs of breeding gliders and caring for them.
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  2. 2
    Make sure that the parents are not related.
    Genetic defects will manifest in the joeys if they come from related parents. To prevent mating related parents, obtain lineage information. Defects can be seen in vital organs or sense organs. The life span of 10-12 years can become shorter.
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  3. 3
    Provide high protein diets.
    This type of diet enables your sugar gliders to breed easier. Because of this, sexually immature males or females or related males and females should be isolated from the others until they can mate properly with unrelated partners.
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  4. 4
    Remember that birthing comes quickly.
    About 14-16 days after conception, the female glider will give birth to one to two joeys that appear jelly-like. The hairless joeys make their way to the pouch and attach to one nipple for 60-70 days as they develop. Generally, only four nipples are in the pouch. If the female has more than two joeys, she may pull out maybe one or two of them for self-preservation. Once the joeys' legs are coming out, the female will pull the joeys out themselves.
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  5. 5
    There is a possibility for joeys to be rejected.
    If this happens, be ready to rescue them by giving replacement milk for marsupials every two hours continuously. Rejection can be brought about by stress, a different mate, a different owner, a new glider, loss of a home, or a change of environment.
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Raising sugar gliders is not something you should take lightly. These may be small creatures, but they need specialized care and attention. Make sure that they receive only the best from you.

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Tips

  • Never purchase sugar gliders from mills.
  • Always ask for lineage information from the sugar glider breeder.
  • Prepare all sugar glider paraphernalia first before you bring your sugar gliders home.
  • Look for certified exotic animal vets or vets that are willing to learn and take on sugar glider care.

Questions and Answers

Can you play with sugar gliders during the day?

Can you play with sugar gliders during the day

Sugar gliders are nocturnal so they sleep during the day. However, you can use daytime to encourage bonding by using a bonding pouch which you would wear while the sugar glider slept. The best time to play with a sugar glider is during its normal waking hours (night time).

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I have a 14 year sugar glider that is getting close; how can I help him now?

My male sugar glider is 14 years old and it seems the end may be near. He appears to be blind at this point. His mobility is increasingly limited as well. He is struggling getting in his bag and ends up sleeping out in the cage. I have put soft rags and stuff for him to sleep in. He sleeps most of the time. He isn't keeping himself very clean as well. The one bright note is he still seems to have a healthy appetite. All of these are obvious signs of an older animal I know. I don't want him to suffer at any point if possible. What should I be expecting and is there a point at which I should consider putting him down? Don't like thinking about that but as I mentioned I don't want him have a horrible ending (or at least not as horrible as it could be). Thanks for any thoughts you have...

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Categories : Animals & Pets

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Robbi

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