Sugar gliders are small marsupials that originated in Australia and are now taking the pet world by storm. These 4-ounce omnivores, known for their ability to glide through the air, have been popular pets on social media and even have been featured in popular movies like “Doctor Doolittle.”
Because of their adorable appearance and uniqueness, more people are considering buying a sugar glider. Before you invest in this pet, however, you should ponder the following basic recommendations.
Buying a Sugar Glider: Things to Know
- Buy from a Reputable Source: Like their puppy mill counterparts, some sugar glider breeders use questionable practices. Gliders that are purchased from the wrong breeder can have multiple health issues, ranging from parasites to giardia. The best place to buy a sugar glider is from a vetted breeder, a local exotic pet store, or adoption via a rescue group.
- Know your Local Laws: In some states like Alaska and California, it is illegal to own a sugar glider. Other states, like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, need an owner to get a permit. Regulations vary, and laws can change, so the best place to inquire about laws is your state’s Fish, Game, and Wildlife Department.
- Veterinary Care is Essential: This care guide recommends that sugar gliders visit a veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up. Like any pet, they can get sick, and the internet is not a reliable substitute for a doctor. Make sure you choose a vet who specializes in exotic pets
- Understand Their Diet: The basic components of a healthy sugar glider diet are protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a vitamin supplement. A dry, pelleted food called “Glide-R-Chow” provides the ideal protein when combined with fruits and vegetables. Additionally, it is important that sugar gliders stay hydrated and that they avoid chlorinated tap water. Complete dietary information should be obtained from your veterinarian.
- They Should Not Interact With Other Animals: Sugar gliders are fragile, and they can be easily harmed by other animals. They need to be kept away from dogs, cats, snakes, and any other animal you may own. Additionally, children should always be supervised when they handle a sugar glider.
- They Are Active At Night: Sugar gliders are nocturnal, and are active at night unless they are trained otherwise. Because some of them also tend to be vocal, you could be woken up to the sound of barking, popping, or crying.
- Socialization: Sugar gliders are social animals, and it is recommended that they are housed with at least one other glider. They thrive on interaction with their owner and can become depressed if neglected.
- They Live a Long Time: Sugar gliders live for 10 to 14 years, although some have been reported to live longer. Be prepared for the duration of this commitment before making the decision to own one.
- Elimination: Sugar gliders poop and pee after waking up and shortly after feeding. They tend to avoid eliminating in their lounge and play areas. They can be potty trained, but if they are not, then they can eliminate wherever they are or in their cage. The owner should be prepared to clean their cage at least once a week, and they will need to decide how to handle elimination.
Owning a Sugar Glider (The Pros)
- Their Size: Sugar gliders are five to six inches long and typically weigh four to five ounces. They are ideal for pet owners living in small spaces, or for owners that want the companionship of a pet they can carry around.
- They are Easy to Clean up After: If they are not potty trained, they will poop and pee on their owners. But unlike dogs and cats, their waste is usually odorless and can easily be cleaned up.
- They Can Be Trained: Not only can they be potty trained, but they can also be trained to stay on their owner, do tricks, come to the owner on command, and stop biting.
- Bonding: Sugar gliders are known to be affectionate and friendly. Due to their sweet nature, they have even been used for emotional support. They can recognize their owner’s scent, footsteps, and voice.
- Active Nature: Sugar gliders are entertaining to watch, and will utilize exercise wheels, foraging toys, and tall enclosures that mimic trees.
Owning a Sugar Glider (The Cons)
- The Cost: The initial cost can be between $100 and $600, and the cost increases with toys, cages, meals, and veterinary care.
- Nutritional Needs: There is not a commercial-quality food product on the market for sugar gliders, so the owner must be careful in arranging the proper diet for their pet.
- They Need Time to Bond: As exotic animals, sugar gliders are naturally leery of people, and it may take up to 12 months for them to successfully bond with their owner.
- Self-harm: A sugar glider is a colony animal, and needs other animals of its species to feel secure. Those that live on their own have been reported to under eat, over-groom, and harm themselves.
- House proofing: Sugar gliders can escape from a home, and they are also susceptible to drowning.
- Specialized Veterinary Care: It is important to find a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets. The cost for this type of care can be expensive, and if you live in a rural area, it can also be impossible to find.
Come Fly With Me: Are You Ready To Adopt A Sugar Glider?
Walking down the street with a mini kangaroo peering out of your pocket is a marvelous experience. Expect to get plenty of laughs and entertainment, as well as warm, loving moments from your large-eyed marsupial.
If you have enough money to finance ownership, patience for training and bonding exercises, and access to the appropriate supplier and veterinarian, you are well on your way to buying a sugar glider.
Do you have questions about owning a sugar glider? Are you an experienced owner with tips or just a funny story about your pet? Leave a comment below and we will be sure to respond.