What Are Sugar Gliders?

Sugar GliderSugar 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.

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9 thoughts on “What Are Sugar Gliders?

  1. My daughter’s sugar glider just had a seizure. Is this common with gliders, and could it be caused by something in his diet?



    • I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter’s glider had a seizure. There are many different reasons this could have happened, including nutritional deficiencies or neurological disorders. You should get your glider to a veterinarian who is experienced with sugar gliders as soon as possible. They will be able to perform the proper testing to give you an accurate diagnosis.

  2. Hi, I recently got a sugar glider. This woman had three and was threatening to feed one to her dog because it had a bad temper, so I took it. I’ve been researching their care, and I know I can handle the responsibility. I’ve even managed to start bonding with him after 3 days. vegetables and I’ve even started an insect farm for his food as well.

    • Wow I hope that she was kidding! I’m so glad to hear that you’ve done your homework, and it seems like you are going to be a very responsible and caring owner.

  3. However, I only have one sugar glider and I don’t know where to get another around here. I’m really concerned. how much time do I have to get one before the stress hurts him? And what if I can’t find another glider?..

    • As long as you are able to spend enough time bonding with your glider, it should be fine. I had a single glider for years when I was in school and I wore her and played with her all the time. I bought her at a pet store and they told me she would bond to me better if I got a single glider. At the time I didn’t know any better.

      She was fine for the first few years when I had a lot of time to spend with her. She got really stressed whenever I would travel and have to be away from her though. Once I started working and couldn’t wear her during they day, I noticed that she was not as happy.

      I did get her a companion about a year ago but was never able to finish bonding them since the new glider was a rescue and very timid. While I was in the process, my first glider passed away.

      The new glider is just starting to really bond to me after about a year. She was really malnourished and neglected when I got her and it took a long time to gain her trust. She is doing fine now as a single glider, and I won’t be getting another glider for now unless I feel she needs it.

      It’s always better for a glider to have another glider companion, but you can only do what you can do. I decided to get a second glider when my first glider was so stressed she was over-grooming and getting bald spots. Even though she never fully bonded with the new glider, just having the second glider’s cage next to hers made a huge difference in her mood. It kind of brought her back to life and made her playful again.

      It sounds like you have not had much trouble bonding with your glider, so that is definitely a good sign. As long as he continues to bond with you, I would say don’t worry about it too much if you can’t find a companion. As long as he seems happy and stays active and healthy, he should do fine.

  4. I’ve got 2 cats and my dad and I want to get at least 2 sugars:)! We’ve thought about it for some time and decided that we can handle the responsibility;)! Would it be okay to have them in a separate rom that’s glider proof? P.S. Is it okay to leave them for a couple hours during school and work?

    • I’ve got 2 cats and I just keep them separated from the gliders. It’s no problem at all. And yes it’s fine to leave them when you are at school and work. They will be sleeping anyways. If you can wear them during the day, that’s great, but they’ll be fine sleeping in their cage too.

  5. What’s it mean if my glider bites me when he plays with me? Is this normal and how do I get him to stop? I’m still in the bonding process and I’m not sure if I’m doing it right , help??? 🙁

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