Our goal here is to compile all of the best information we have found about sugar gliders as pets and in the wild. Our main focus at this point is to educate people who want to keep these exotic creatures as pets. We strive to produce accurate and updated sugar glider information for both prospective owners and suggie slaves.
How Much do Sugar Gliders Cost?
What are sugar gliders?
Below is just some very basic information. Soon, we will have links on the left for more details (including color variations, male and female anatomy, breeding, behavior, diet, and bonding).
Sugar Glider Anatomy
Sugar gliders are marsupials, with the moms carrying joeys in the pouch (similar to koalas and kangaroos), but they fit more into the possum family. They originate from Southern Australia and New Guinea. They’re about 6 ½ – 7 ½ inches long, with a bushy tail almost the same length. They look a lot like a flying squirrel, but are very different. They are usually grey with a black stripe down the back, a black tip on the tail, black ears, and a cream-colored underbelly. There can be many color variations as well. The fur is very soft to touch.
They are called sugar “gliders” because of a unique membrane called the patagia. This piece of skin extends from the front hand all the way to the back foot on both sides of the body.
The picture above shows a sugar glider joey (about 8 weeks old) with his patagia extended out. It is this patagia that allows sugar gliders to glide between trees in the wild. Sugar gliders can glide over 55 yards! The membranes are also used to gather food. We will soon have links on the left for more information about the differences between male and female sugar gliders.
Sugar Glider Diet
The glider diet in the wild consists mostly of insects, sap from eucalyptus, acacia, and gum trees, pollen, nectar, small vertebrates, and arthropods. The “sugar” part of the name “sugar glider” refers to its preference for sweet food.
As a new glider owner, this may all seem very overwhelming at first. The diet seemed to be the most complicated thing for us in the beginning. Once you get into a good routine though, it is really not that hard. To give you an example, every evening around 9:00-10:00PM, we feed fruits, veggies, and pre-mixed HPW (see video below). We just thaw out some fruits and veggies and mix in the HPW. We also make sure they have a quality dry food in their cage, in case they wake up during the day and need a snack. Then we just kind of alternate between different proteins and enrichment supplements throughout the week. It really only takes us 5 minutes to feed them every night.
Sugar Glider Behavior
In the wild, gliders are very social creatures within their own group. Outsiders are not tolerated. Tame gliders in captivity seem to adapt well to various humans (see our page on bonding), but different clans of gliders kept in different cages should not be allowed to mingle. They can and will really hurt each other. Introductions should be made slowly and cautiously. Males mark their territory and other gliders, by rubbing their scent glands on them. In captivity, they will also do this to the humans they are bonded to. With the right amount of attention, sugar gliders can be wonderful pets.
Sugar Glider Cage Information
A sugar glider cage should be a safe and comfortable home for your suggies. Below are the basic requirements of a cage.
You will hear different opinions about minimum cage size from different people. A universally acceptable standard seems to be around 2.5-3 feet wide by 3 feet tall. This is the MINIMUM amount of space you should provide for your sugar glider(s). Here are a few points to remember:
- Bigger is obviously better.
- Taller is better than wider.
- Sugar gliders like to jump and glide. They may be small, but they require a lot of exercise and need plenty of space to play.
- Some states have minimum cage size requirements that are larger than the universally acceptable standard. We will try to post more information about this soon. Make sure your cage is large enough to meet the minimum requirements in your state.
- The cages sold by Perfect Pocket Pets are too small. If you are currently using one of their cages, please buy or make your gliders a larger home and ditch their cage or use it as a travel cage.
- Be sure to get a cage that will leave plenty of room to hang a pouch, have a food area (possibly with a glider kitchen), use a wheel, have a few toys, and still allow room to leap from side to side.
Sugar gliders need space to jump. Minimal or no shelves is optimal. Multi-level styles are not optimal. A better layout is to remove the shelves and accessorize it with branches, vines, ropes, and/or hanging toys. If you are going with a manufactured cage, many of the larger-style bird-cages are acceptable, if you can get the right wire spacing. It is important to make sure that all doors latch very securely. Gliders are very good at escaping. Get a style with a pull-out tray, to keep the gliders away from their waste. Keep in mind, gliders can reach a few inches with their hands, so if the pullout tray isn’t deep enough, you may have a mess on your hands.
Cage Wire Spacing
The general consensus is that the wire spacing should be 1/2 inch in one direction and can range anywhere from 1 inch to 6 inches in the other direction. The longer dimension can run either up and down or side to side. That doesn’t really matter. The important part is making sure the wires are no more than 1/2 inch apart in one direction. A sugar glider joey can squeeze through the bars if the spacing is even just a little bit wider (yes 5/8 inch is too wide). Most home-made cages use 1/2″ x 1″ spacing.
There are a few acceptable materials for sugar glider cages and there are some unacceptable materials. Here are a few general rules of thumb:
- If you are going to buy a cage or make a cage using wood, make sure that the wood is only for decorative purposes and is on the outside of the cage. If the gliders can get to the wood, not only will they chew on it, but they will also urinate on it and make your house smell horrible.
- DO NOT buy or make a cage using galvanized steel. Urine causes a chemical reaction with the galvanized steel, which can cause urinary tract infections.
- DO NOT use a cage made out of aluminum.
- DO NOT make a cage out of hardware cloth.
- If you are going to make a cage, PVC-coated wire is a very popular material to use. You may be able to find this at a local hardware store, feed store, or fence company. Otherwise, it can be purchased online. We were unable to find any wire locally. We searched online for several days before finally finding what we wanted. The best deal we found was at the Ace Hardware website. They offer free shipping to your local Ace Hardware store as well. Klubertanz’ website is probably a close second. Powder-coated wire is usually ok too.
Truth About Sugar Glider Mill Breeders
Beware of the mill breeders and brokers that go around selling sugar gliders at home and garden shows, state fairs, malls, flea markets, pet stores, etc. Much of the information presented holds true for all of the breeders/brokers you see perpetuating sugar gliders as “perfect pocket pets” for anyone. We have to be careful not to bad-talk any specific companies engaging in these activities or specifically calling out a company as being a glider mill, as they are notorious for suing anyone who speaks the truth about them.
The bottom line here is DO NOT purchase a sugar glider on impulse at a trade show, fair, mall, etc. Many of the same problems hold true for pet stores as well. Do not purchase a sugar glider from a pet store. Be informed and DO YOUR RESEARCH. If you believe that sugar gliders may be a good pet for you, we recommend you to purchase them from a responsible breeder (unless you are intentionally looking to do a rescue). If you have already purchased from a glider mill or pet store, it may not be too late to turn things around. You can start now with making informed decisions and taking proper care of your new sugar glider(s).