Sugar gliders are becoming more and more popular as pets, so you may have heard of them but aren’t exactly sure what they are. It is common for people to mistake them for flying squirrels, but they are not even related to flying squirrels and definitely are not rodents.
Sugar gliders are actually marsupials and evolved on a different continent from the flying squirrel. They are commonly mistaken as the same animal or as relatives because they have similar anatomy. They both have a gliding membrane called a patagium that allows them to glide from one tree to another.
Although they both have similar anatomy, that is really the only thing they have in common. Flying squirrels are placental mammals that are original to North America. Sugar gliders are marsupial mammals that are originally from Australia, Papa New Guinea, Indonesia, and Tasmania.
As marsupials, female sugar gliders have pouches to carry their young. When gliders are born, they are not fully developed and climb into their mother’s pouch where they finish their development. Because of this additional period of development after birth, their true birth date is called the “out of pouch” date, which occurs when they are developed enough to come out of their mother’s pouch.
Sugar gliders have been kept as pets in many different countries for decades, but they are still exotic animals. They were brought to the United States in the early 1990s and have continued to become more and more popular as pets. They are now bred in captivity in the United States rather than being imported in from their home countries.
Despite being bred in captivity for many years now, sugar gliders still retain much of their wild instincts. They are still exotic animals and have special needs as a result. Getting sugar gliders as pets is definitely not as simple as getting a guinea pig or hamster. If you are thinking about getting them, look at these 5 things to consider before getting pet sugar gliders.
You may be wondering where they got their name. It comes from the fact that they love sweet foods, such as nectar and sap and their ability to glide through the air. They are nocturnal animals, which means that they are awake at night and sleep during the day.
In their wild habitat, they sleep in the hollows of trees during the daytime and emerge at night to hunt and look for food. As omnivores, they eat plants and other small animals such as insects, lizards, and small birds. They will also eat eggs, acacia gum, pollen, nectar, and tree sap. Gliders kept in captivity should get a diet that is as nutritionally close as possible to their natural diet.
In the wild, gliders live in colonies of 7 or more. They are very social animals and that’s exactly what makes them such wonderful pets. They really engage with their owners and form strong bonds. However, they really do need companions of their own species, so it is best to keep them in pairs at a minimum in captivity.
Sugar gliders are also territorial, and in the wild they are not friendly with gliders from other colonies. They will even kill a glider from another colony to protect their territory. Because of this natural territorial instinct, introducing 2 adult sugar gliders to each other can lead to fights. It must be done gradually so they can get used to each other and bond. It can take months before you can let two adult gliders mix without them getting into fights. This is why it is best to get a bonded pair from the beginning.
When kept in captivity, gliders can live quite a long time, as long as 15 years. For this reason, sugar glider owners must be prepared to take care of them for at least that long. It is definitely a long-term commitment that should be considered carefully.