Despite looking like squirrels, sugar gliders are not rodents. They are members of the marsupial family, meaning, just like kangaroos, they spend their early lives in a pouch. The reason they are called sugar gliders seems to be rooted from the fold of skin they have that stretches from their wrists to sides of their body, which makes them capable of gliding anywhere as long as their arms can be stretched out.
What are sugar gliders like as pets?
Sugar gliders are playful, inquisitive, and most importantly affectionate, and as some might say a little emotional. Here is a synopsis of what sugar gliders are like as pets:
- They are social animals. A prospective owner has to be willing to get more than just one sugar glider. They are best kept in pairs or more.
- Sugar gliders have the tendency to get depressed when left alone.
- Male and female sugar gliders can be kept together. However, getting them spayed/neutered is recommended. If not, they will multiply.
- They need a lot of human interaction; otherwise, they might get nippy. They should be handled daily to be tame. Once they are tamed, they will be more appreciative of regular cuddling.
- They are clean and do not need complex housing set-up.
- However, when they are let out of their cages, they have to be supervised. Pet-proofing electrical wires are important since they might chew on it.
- Given that they used to be dependent on pouches growing up, they would curl up in fabric pouches and even in shirt pockets. Pouches designed specifically for sugar gliders are available in pet shops.
- Sugar gliders are nocturnal. They are best for pet owners who have more time to spend at night.
- Although they are not aggressive, they might still bite when threatened.
- They are natural climbers and jumpers; they will use their claws just to cling on, including their owners. So to avoid scratches, you can get their talons trimmed.
- If well taken care of, sugar gliders can live up to twelve to fifteen years.
With their distinctive large eyes, Sugar gliders are indeed unique looking creatures. Male sugar gliders have scent glands on their heads; this is used to mark territories, they have genitals that are fork-like in shape, whilst females have a couple of uterus and genitals.
Sugar gliders can be bred in a variety of colours and coat patterns. An adult male sugar glider weighs around 100–160 grams. Whilst female sugar gliders only weigh around 80–130 grams.
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Besides being incredibly endearing and fun that constantly requires interaction with their owners, sugar gliders are extremely vocal. A sugar glider owner can easily tell from the sound their pet makes to know when they are hungry, scared, or upset; sugar gliders would typically use their voice to express their feelings. The sound they make when they are upset is called ‘crabbing.’ This can also mean a warning before they bite.
A pair of sugar glider’s home should be a minimum of 24 inches deep and wide by 36 inches high. However, bigger is better for sugar gliders when it comes to housing, the height of the cage is the more significant element you need to consider over the floor space of the cage due to its special gliding nature.
- The wires on the wired cage should be spaced no more than half an inch wide.
- The bars have to be horizontal to enable sugar gliders to climb.
- A nest box or a glider pouch has to be provided.
- For exercise, a closed exercise wheel is recommended to avoid having the sugar glider’s tail from getting caught.
- Ladders, branches, and ropes can be added to give them more chance to climb and exercise.
- Provide your sugar gliders with multiple food dishes.
- To keep them refreshed, allocate a sipper bottle for them to drink from.
Up to now, the ideal diet for sugar gliders remains a popular topic for debate; however, more research over the years has been conducted to find out the best possible option for pet owners. A variety of the homemade BML diet considered to offer proper nutrition is popular amongst sugar glider owners.
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If your sugar glider is not used to being handled, it will take patience and a little time to get them warming up to your cuddles. Allow them to get inside a pouch that you can hang around your neck—this helps to strengthen the bonding. You can also let them ride inside your pocket!
Since sugar gliders are exotic pets. You might experience difficulties in finding a vet in your area who is specialised in taking care of your pet’s healthcare needs.
Unlike cats and dogs, sugar gliders do not require yearly vaccinations. However, they need annual veterinary visits for examinations to make sure they are in pristine health.
Sugar gliders can make excellent pets, however, they are not low-maintenance pets, so if you are planning to get one, make sure to talk to veterinary experts and breeders before you bring a pair of them home.