Sugar gliders are extremely fashionable companions, ranking in popularity with hamsters and guinea pigs as household pets. They are native to Australia and were introduced to the United States about 20 years ago as a domesticated pet.
Measuring between 6 and 8 inches long, the sugar glider has a tail nearly as long as its body and almost as thick as a person’s thumb. Adults weigh 3 to 6 ounces.
A weakness for sweet foods and the talent to skillfully glide from tree to tree earned the sugar glider its unique name. These high-flyers are nocturnal, tree dwelling animals that often live in groups of 15 to 30. If taken care of properly, sugar gliders can live to be 10-15 years old.
The sugar glider may be small, but it is not quiet. They make a significant amount of noise (barks, chirps, and chatters) that could keep you awake at night. Their claws are sharp and must be carefully trimmed. Gliders are insectivores, so they do eat bugs and will dine on pinkies (baby mice). As a pet, their diet is mainly fruits and vegetables (75%) as well as protein (25%).
Sugar gliders are marsupials, which means they raise their young in a pouch like a kangaroo does. They do not have a bad odor and if they do smell, it’s usually linked to their diet, or cages not properly and regularly cleaned out.
As a pet, these small animals are meant for the more advanced owner who has done their research and knows about sugar gliders. Generally, they do not adapt well to changes in their normal sleeping patterns. They become easily stressed when their daytime sleep is interrupted and this increases the risk of illness. Sugar gliders are not a young child’s pet as they can be easily crushed and will bite if handled roughly.
Before purchasing a sugar glider, consider veterinary care. Make sure that you have a veterinarian nearby that will treat this species of pet.
If you’ve done your homework and are ready for the responsibility, these lively, inquisitive creatures make an excellent pet and bond well to their new owners if given plenty of attention.