The Complete Guide to Owning and Caring for a Sugar Glider
Have you ever wanted to create a special bond with a truly one-of-a-kind animal?
If so, a sugar glider might be your perfect pet. Unless you live in Australia, you probably haven’t encountered anything quite like these ‘flying’ marsupials.
Sugar gliders use membranes on the sides of their body to soar through the air. They’re small, clever, and very social. They can live for up to 15 years in captivity, so make sure you’re ready for the commitment before you decide to bring one into your life.
If you’ve got your heart set on these beautiful creatures, keep reading to find out what you’ll need in order to be a great sugar glider owner.
Sugar Glider Housing, Water, and Toys
Regular cages meant for other animals might not work for sugar gliders. These pets are quite small and crafty, so you’ll need to make sure the bars of any cages are spaced closely together.
While you’ll have to be careful about the cage itself, you can look to items meant for other pets when it comes to what you place in the cage.
For example, you might be able to find a great water bottle in the hamster supply section of the pet store. The water system for a hamster (or hedgehog, or mouse) is similar to what you’ll need for a sugar glider. You’ll want to make sure your pet has water freely available, and the sipping design of a hamster water feeder is perfect for sugar glider behavior.
Another example is the use of bird toys as sugar glider toys. Anything that will keep your little buddy stimulated and promote exercise is a great choice. And the small size of a sugar glider will mean that bird toys are often the perfect size.
If you decide to get an exercise wheel for your sugar glider, look for one that’s meant for larger animals, like guinea pigs. Small exercise wheels can be uncomfortable and can trap sugar gliders’ tails.
Swings and pouches are excellent items to place in your sugar glider’s cage. As you might have already guessed from the name, these creatures love to jump, swing, and glide through the air.
At the bottom of the cage, you should provide some absorbent bedding for your sugar glider. Cheap paper-based bedding works just fine. You’ll need to change this out regularly.
You can carefully take your sugar glider out of the cage for daily bonding, and as time goes on, you may find that you’re able to keep your pet around you more and more. Sugar gliders are known to stay very close to their owners once they’re bonded.
Bonding With Your New Pet
Because sugar gliders aren’t a typical pet, you might be wondering whether their wildness will mean you can’t have a normal human-pet bond.
Rest assured, this is not the case! With the right introductions and care, sugar gliders can indeed bond to people and even other pets.
Sugar gliders are very social animals and will likely see the home environment as a social group. This makes the bonding process a multifaceted one, so pay attention as your sugar glider learns how to get along with everyone in the family.
In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies of about a dozen or so. They interact with each other all day and sleep nestled together for warmth. So don’t be surprised if your new pet likes to cuddle with humans or other pets!
Sugar gliders are so social, in fact, that they may require more interaction than expected.
Some people recommend big chunks of daily interaction with young sugar gliders in order to get them used to humans. For a simulation of natural bonding, you can make or buy a ‘bonding pouch’ for your sugar glider that you can wear around your body. Remember that sugar gliders are marsupials, so they’re used to being carried around in a warm pouch.
You might also want to consider getting a second sugar glider to keep your pet company in a more constant way. Sugar gliders are naturally active at night, so another sugar glider can provide crucial social interaction when you’re asleep.
Sugar gliders aren’t called that because they’re so sweet. They’re named for their affinity to sweet foods like fruit. You can feed them fresh fruit and vegetables.
They also eat protein, which you can provide in the form of cooked lean meat, cooked eggs, and live bugs. You can search for comprehensive sugar glider foods, like food pellets, that cover some or all of these needs.
As you can see, your pet can eat a variety of foods you may already have at home. Certain human foods, however, are a no-no for these little critters. Be aware of these foods to avoid before letting your sugar glider nibble on your food.
The specific dietary needs of your sugar glider may not be covered by a one-size-fits-all diet, so talk to your vet or an expert to figure out the best mix of foods for your pet. Many sugar glider owners feed their pets vitamins and even baby food in addition to the standard routine.
Now All You Need Is a Sugar Glider!
If you’ve decided you’re ready to provide good company and healthy snacks to a loving pet, you’re on your way to a beautiful bond with a new sugar glider—or two!
Make sure to talk to some experts and assess your pet’s needs as they arise. With the right care, you’ll be walking around and cuddling with your new sugar glider friend in no time.
For more guides on taking care of the animals in your life, check out the rest of our blog! And if you have some sugar glider experience, leave a comment below to tell us all about what your pet means to you.