Pet Sugar Gliders
Sugar Gliders are not well known pets but they are becoming more and more popular and suited to the advanced pet owner. They are delicate creatures of the possum family that average about 7 inches (17.8 cm) in length. Sugar Gliders get their name from their gliding ability and they can glide up to 148 feet. This impressive distance may lead one to assume that they do this by flying, but this is a common misconception. Sugar Gliders do not fly – they glide. These endearing critters have a gliding membrane that extends from their fore to hind limbs. They use their tail as a rudder to control their gliding, leading them in any direction they would like to go. Another interesting fact that makes the sugar glider such an awe-inspiring creature is that it is a marsupial. That’s right, much like kangaroos, they raise their young in a pouch. Although the sugar glider is a fascinating animal, it is very difficult to properly keep as a pet as it has many intricate requirements that need to be met for it to thrive.
Sugar Gliders are Most Active in the Night
Sugar gliders are nocturnal. This means that they sleep during the day and are awake at night. Though small, the sugar glider is by no means a quiet creature. It makes a significant amount of noise (barks, chirps, and chatters) that could keep you awake when you’re trying to get your beauty sleep. Sugar gliders generally do not adapt well to changes in their normal sleeping patterns, becoming easily stressed when their daytime sleep is interrupted, increasing the risk of illness. They are not domestic animals, and thus you must supply them with a habitat that is similar to one in the wild and be compliant and respectful of their normal behavioural patterns and needs.
Sugar Gliders Have a Complicated Diet
The dietary needs to keep a pet sugar glider in good health are varied and quite detailed. You will have to spend a significant amount of your time and energy ensuring your sugar glider is properly receiving all the nutrients and minerals it needs to thrive by providing it with the right foods. Using the wild sugar glider’s diet of tree sap, insects and nectar, as a starting point, pet sugar gliders need fresh fruits, vegetables and protein. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as feeding your sugar glider items that fit one of these three categories. It is wise to research first what foods are safe before feeding them to your pet. Definite no-nos which can be dangerous to feed a sugar glider include pits and seeds in fruit, select vegetables, human junk food, canned fruit, cat food (in large amounts), nuts and seeds (high fat content, occasional treat OK), raw meat or eggs, and outdoor or corn mash fed crickets. General rules on foods to feed your pet sugar glider are commercially prepared sugar glider items, fruits and vegetables (no seeds), insects and other cooked meat or boiled eggs, and pure fruit juices with no sugar added. Minerals and vitamins often must be supplemented to meet the dietary requirements of sugar gliders and prevent them from developing disease. This varied diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein must be fed every day or else your pet’s body will not be getting all the fuel it needs for growth and operation. For example, problems such as softening of the bones is quite common in sugar gliders that are fed mainly a fruit diet without daily protein. Additionally, water should always be readily available. It takes a dedicated and willing person to meet these needs of a sugar glider, so make sure that you are capable of braving the challenge of the sugar glider diet for its entire life before bringing one home.
Sugar Gliders are Time-Consuming
If you are already short on time, and cannot make available more than two hours for your sugar glider each day, then you probably are unable to properly care for one as a pet. Sugar gliders require approximately two hours of interactive play time every day, and additional time for preparing their food, cleaning cages, etc. If they do not receive proper playtime they easily become depressed and or exhibit other behaviour problems. A common behavioural problem in sugar gliders that are feeling neglected is over-grooming, especially at the base of the tail. Will other sugar glider companions help to ease this loneliness? They may, but this depends on the sugar glider. Sugar gliders can be extremely territorial, even resorting sometimes to killing intruders. Thus, introduction of new sugar gliders must be done properly and with patience. Seek your exotics veterinarian for advice on this or any other issues you are having with your pet.
Although the sugar glider is an intriguing, adorable critter, they are exceedingly difficult to keep as pets. They are definitely for the advanced owner who has done their research and is knowledgeable in the ways of the sugar glider. A sugar glider may never cuddle with you like a dog or cat, but if you know what to expect of them and are aware of their behaviour you will probably not be disappointed by the quirks and whims of your unique pet.
By Laura Platt – Pets.ca writer