How to Care for a Sugar Glider

Опубликовал Admin
23-09-2016, 22:27
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Are you the proud new owner of a sugar glider? These little marsupials are sweet, cuddly and very sociable, traits that make them wonderful pets. Sugar gliders are omnivorous, so they need a balanced diet of fruit, protein and fat. They stay in a tall cage with plenty of branches to climb on, but they like to come out and play as often as possible. Learn how to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for your sugar glider.

Knowing Sugar Glider Basics

  1. Take the time to bond with your glider. One of the most special things about sugar gliders is their need for socialization. Gliders are capable of a lot of love and if you spend time with them and give them respect, they will grow to trust you. Gliders form strong bonds and can become despondent when the bond is broken. Before bringing home a glider and starting the bonding process, make sure you want to keep the glider for its entire lifespan, which could be up to 15 years.
    • Though some breeders will sell single gliders, gliders do much better in pairs or colonies. It's much better to get two gliders if you want them to stay happy and healthy.
    • Snuggling your sugar gliders and petting them when they are sleepy in their pouch is a great way to connect.
    • Another useful technique for play time is "tent time." Playing with your gliders in a tent allows them freedom to roam without worrying about making a mad dash to catch them before they end up somewhere you can't coax them out of.
  2. Find a veterinarian for exotic animals. Just like dogs and cats, sugar gliders occasionally get sick. Before you bring a pair of sugar gliders home, make sure you have a vet in your area who specializes in glider care. You should bring your gliders in for a checkup about once a year to make sure they're doing well.
    • Consider neutering your male glider if paired with a female glider to prevent inbreeding.
  3. Look out for common illnesses that affect sugar gliders. When conditions are right, sugar gliders are relatively low maintenance pets. However, from time to time they may become ill due to lack of essential nutrients, not getting enough playtime, and other causes. If you see signs that your sugar gliders aren't feeling well, take them to the vet right away. Here are the common illnesses that affect them:
    • Calcium deficiency, which can cause paralysis and is preventable as long as you feed your gliders the correct diet
    • Constipation or indigestion
    • Open wounds from getting scratched or caught on a sharp part of the cage
    • Parasites like ticks, fleas, or worms
    • Obesity due to eating too many fatty foods
    • Stress caused by poor socialization
  4. Connect with other glider owners in your area. It is great fun to connect with other glider owners to share the joy. Plus they can be a great resource when you have to ask questions. There are many forums and message-boards that are glider-related.
  5. Be careful when you take your gliders outside. Sugar gliders can go outside once they have bonded with you. They will be unlikely to run away, since they see you as the safe place to run to. However, you should avoid taking your sugar gliders outside if they have not yet bonded to you.
    • Be watchful of other pets and loud noises that might scare them up a tree or into the drain pipe. They are very fast escapees.

Setting Up a Habitat

  1. Buy or build a sizable cage. One amazing qualities sugar gliders have is their ability to spread their legs and glide through the air. In order to do this, in captivity, they need a nice tall cage. Though many breeders will give you a cage with your purchase, it may not be big enough. The minimum cage size for a pair of gliders is 3 feet (0.9 m) high by 2 feet (0.6 m) wide with no more than ⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) bar spacing. If you have extra room, the bigger (and taller) the better. There are several sources for cages online, or you can check your local pet store. Many glider owners build custom cages that fit the needs of their household.
    • Avoid galvanized steel cages because they can rust and cause urinary tract infections in gliders.
    • Make sure the cage is either made with mesh or has horizontal bars that will allow the gliders to climb.
  2. Place the cage on a large tray lined with bedding. This is useful for absorbing waste and stray food, and you can easily change out the bedding when it gets soiled. A plastic or metal tray works just fine. Use paper bedding such as CareFresh or other nontoxic bedding available such as yesterday's news cat litter or puppy pads. Change it out once a week or so.
    • Avoid using wood in general as the oils are too hard on their respiratory systems. The oils in these woods can cause health problems for sugar gliders.
    • If you don't want to buy bedding, you can use newspaper or another nontoxic material from around the house.
  3. Provide a pouch. Sugar gliders are nocturnal, and in their natural environment they sleep in trees. To replicate that experience in captivity, place a wooden birdhouse (made of safe wood such as manzanita or eucalyptus), or a fleece pouch with a slit in the side, Attach it to the side of the cage by using plastic c-links to affix it to the mesh or bars. The gliders will be able to climb up to the box or pouch to rest when they need to.
    • It's important to make sure the nesting box is made from nontoxic materials. A fleece or 100% cotton (outside only) bag is a good choice, or an untreated manzanita, applewood, or eucalyptus bird house is good. It's always good to enhance their lives and buy both. Choose something that won't catch on the gliders' toenails, so make sure the seams are hidden.
    • Hollowed-out coconuts are another popular choice. Provide more than one to add some variety.
  4. Add safe branches and toys to the cage. Sugar gliders are intelligent and need an engaging environment. You need to stimulate your gliders' minds with interesting things to look at touch, smell and climb. Attach branches to the sides of the cage to replicate their natural environment. Most toddler toys are glider safe, as are plastic toys you can buy from sugar glider vendors. Always be sure to have a wheel with out a bar for the axel, as glider tails easily get caught in them, there are a few brands that are safe, of these Raptor wheels and Stealth wheels are most popular. Consider rotating toys and rearranging the elements in the cage on a regular basis.
    • Check online for ideas on how to make the best possible habitat for your gliders. Glider forums are filled with great ideas for toys and other interesting things to add to the cage.
    • If your gliders are understimulated, they will become depressed. This can lead to long-term health problems.

Feeding Your Sugar Glider

  1. Provide a healthy diet. Sugar gliders are native to Australia, where they live on a diet of sap, bird eggs, lizards, insects, and other wild foods. Preparing food for sugar gliders is more like feeding animals in a zoo than opening a bag of kibble. There are several diet plans available, such as Burbon's Modified Leadbeater Diet or the OHPW diet, which provides a Step by step guide for feeding gliders. All these diets are accompanied by fruits and vegetables nightly. Be sure to follow them exactly as if you don't you may throw off the ratios. Both help the gliders get the calcium they need to avoid malnutrition and HLP (hind leg paralysis). Do some research online to find one that works for you. Never feed gliders pellets as a total diet, while they are a great snack they are not a total diet. They have too little protein as well as fillers.
    • It may seem as though food prep for sugar gliders will take a lot of time, but once you get the hang of it you can prepare enough food for the entire week in one day. The important thing is to make sure you provide the right ration of protein, sugars, and fats, and ensure your gliders are getting the minerals they need to stay healthy.
    • Do not feed sugar gliders dog food, cat food or other foods not meant for sugar gliders. They don't contain the nutritional makeup that sugar gliders need to thrive.
  2. Keep snacks on hand. Gliders love snacks, and can be a great resource for bonding. One of the most nutritious is live meal worms. Seeing how much your little guy loves mealies will help you get over the "ick" factor (most pet stores sell plastic tweezers).
    • Other snacks include fresh fruit, dried unsulfured papaya, dried unsulfured coconut, yogurt drops, pine nuts (in limited quantities), peas, and "lickey treats" which could be yogurt, applesauce or baby food. (Hawaiian Delight and chicken with apples are favorites.)
    • When choosing snacks avoid all artificial sweeteners, colors or other non-natural ingredients.
    • Never feed sugar gliders plain sugar, candy, or chocolate, as these will cause health problems.
  3. Provide food and water at all times in the cage. Place metal food and water dishes at the bottom of the cage. Keep the water dish full at all times, but provide just one serving size of food for each sugar glider you own, rather than filling the dish to the brim. You may have leftover food at the end of the day; discard it and provide fresh food the next morning.


  • Make sure to watch your glider, if you let them out around your house, because they could get lost or stuck.
  • Sugar gliders are marsupials, not squirrels. Do not feed your glider nuts.
  • Consider adoption. Many people purchase gliders as "impulse buys" because they are very cute, then come to regret the decision when they realize how much work is required in caring for them. Adoption will often require a bit of additional work to establish a bond and build trust, but is very worthwhile.
  • Check to make sure sugar gliders are legal pets and not classified as exotics in your area. They are sometimes called "pocket pets."
  • Make sure you have a big enough cage for your glider to spread.


  • A frightened glider will bite, but it will be more of a pinch then a bite. Don't try to keep doing what ever frightened it.
  • Limit fruit intake and don't serve it any grapefruit. Too great a quantity of acid containing foods can kill them.
  • Plastic bags terrify gliders. No one has a definite why, but your glider will freak out if it hears them.
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