Basic Sugar Glider Information

Sugar Glider with Ceramic Feed Station

Sugar gliders (Petauridae Breviceps) are tree dwelling marsupials; this is the order of animals that carry their babies in pouches. Sugar Gliders are found in the wild in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. They are nocturnal, meaning they are awake throughout the night and sleep throughout the day. Their most active hours are at dusk and dawn. In the wild, gliders are omnivores and eat a vast variety of foods including many types of insects, invertebrates, tree gums, nectars, and saps. The diet varies depending upon the season of the year and the availability of food. These animals received the name “gliders” based on the skin membrane under their arms that allow them to glider through the air. Their name “sugar” is based on the sweet foods they eat in the wild like fruit, nectar and sap. 

Gliders began to gain popularity in the United States as pets in the mid 90s when they were imported from Indonesia. The original animals offered for sale in this country were wild caught, standard grey in color and far from being tame. Almost all sugar gliders offered for sale these days are domestically raised, available in a multitude of colors and are much tamer than their wild-caught counterparts. They reproduce at about 8-12 months of age and mothers have usually one to two babies (joeys) at a time, twice per year. Sugar gliders are very easily bred in captivity, the gestation period is 16 days, at which time the baby glider(s) crawl to the mother's pouch and attach themselves to a nipple. This is where the baby stays for the next 8 weeks until they are ready to be weaned onto a solid diet around 4 months of age. You can click on any blue, bold words in this article to find out more information, or to be led to a specific product recommendation.

There are many opinions on which foods are best for sugar gliders. What we recommend is providing a well-rounded, varied diet for your gliders that will help mimic their natural diet found in the wild. The recommended amount of protein content in your glider's diet should come close to 40%-45%, especially if they are young or breeding. Most sugar glider diets widely available only have a protein amount of 25% to 30%. In captivity, we recommend a high quality pellet diet such as ZooPro Glider Essential or Exotic Nutrition Glider Complete. If you feed foods other than one of these nutritionally complete diets, then you should supplement with Glider Booster multivitamin and Glider-Cal calcium supplement. If your pet is fed one of the Exotic Nutrition sugar glider diets, supplements are not necessary because the pellets already contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients. If your glider is fed a variety of foods without supplements, this could lead to nutritional problems. If you'd prefer to feed a fresh diet along with a pellet food, the best option would be an HPW diet. Read more about the HPW sugar glider diet

Sugar Gliders in Banana PouchSugar gliders are colony animals that live in large groups in the wild. They are highly interactive and do best living in groups of at least two or three. Interacting with a human does provide some form of companionship, but it is not compared to that of another glider. Also, since gliders are nocturnal, most people can only spend time with their gliders in the mornings and evenings while both parties are awake. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to purchase gliders in pairs or groups to keep them socialized. You can keep multiple female gliders or multiple male gliders together in the same cage, but it is not suggested to keep multiple males with only one female. This can cause fighting between the males when the breeding season comes around. The ratio of females should always be equal to or higher than the ratio of males in the cage. If your gliders did not come from the same colony and have not been introduced, it is recommended allow them to adjust before living together. If possible, start by housing the gliders in cages that are next-to but separate from one another for a 30-day quarantine. This way they can get used to eachothers smells, behaviors, etc. before interacting face-to-face. Once the gliders get accustomed to each other after a few weeks, you can allow them to meet and interact. It is best to make the initial introduction in a neutral space, so that neither glider feels like their personal space or property is being ‘invaded’. Make sure the meeting is carefully supervised- if there is any aggression, separate the gliders, and try again in a few days. In our experience, most gliders will adapt peacefully to the addition of another or multiple new gliders.

Sugar Glider inside Jungle Tunnel

Gliders are active creatures, and need lots of room in their cage. Because gliders are tree-dwelling animals, they are well adapted to jumping, climbing, and vertical movement. The amount of vertical space is more important than the width or square footage of the cage. A good cage size for a pair of sugar gliders should be at least 35 inches tall and have about 12 square feet of interior space (24”x24”x35”). Larger is always better, keeping in mind that height is important for the gliders. The spacing of the wire between bars should be no more than 1/2 inch wide and there is no need to worry about the direction of the bars; gliders have opposable thumbs and can climb easily on horizontal or vertical bars. Some companies claim that cages must have horizontal bars because gliders will never use vertical bars or if they do, it will injure their feet and legs. This information is used as a marketing ploy to sell specific horizontally-wired cages and the information is simply not true. Exotic Nutrition has sold thousands of cages over the past 10+ years, all with mainly vertical wiring, with zero issues reported or complaints from glider owners. Sugar gliders are extremely skilled climbers and have absolutely no problem at all climbing up, down and around on vertical wires. Other companies may tout a 'medical grade cage finish’ that is unique to their cages. This is also not true because the only medical grade wire available is medical grade stainless steel. This type of material is extremely expensive and is made with 1 inch bar spacing that is too large for sugar gliders and, therefore, would never be used on a glider cage. The bar spacing on all Exotic Nutrition cages is ½ inch wide and the wire construction is finished in a heavy powder coated (animal safe) finish containing no lead or zinc. Read more about cage finishes.

Sugar Glider with Hanging Jingle Balls Toy

Your glider cage will need to be accessorized with one or more nest pouches, toys and other adornments that will help enrich the life of your gliders. Sugar gliders are nest animals that require a safe place to sleep or nap, preferably one that is quite, dark, and warm. Nest pouches are simply cloth sacks with hooks or clips to hang from the sides or roof of the cage to provide a private space for gliders to sleep or retreat to. You can also provide a nest box along with nesting material or another pouch inside the box. Proper nesting material can help reduce stress levels and increase the quality of sleep your pet is getting, all while optimizing their health. Since gliders are used to being up high in the treetops in nature, they will prefer to have a nest pouch that is hung high in the cage to help them feel safe. Hang multiple pouches in the cage to provide different areas to sleep, and make sure to have spares to replace ones that are being washed. Gliders should have enough toys in their cage to promote interest, curiosity, and movement. Accessories for sugar gliders can include toys that will encourage foraging, branches and ropes, cage plants, shelves, platforms, ladders, etc. All captive animals require toys to provide entertainment in the cage, especially when left alone for extended periods. It is imperative for mental and physical health to have an array of stimulating toys available at all times. Toys enrich the lives of pets while encouraging natural foraging instincts found in the wild. Sugar Gliders like to climb and jump, and you should provide plenty of branches, ropes, and platforms to allow them to exercise. Fresh branches are appreciated, but make sure they are free from pesticides and fertilizers, and are from non-toxic plants (i.e. manzanita branches). Rearrange the accessories in the cage often and provide new toys once the old ones become mundane. It can be as simple as moving a shelf to the other side of the cage, or as complex as a complete rearrangement of all accessories. Read more about enriching the life of your glider.

Sugar Glider with Coconut Cup

An exercise wheel should be a big hit and allow lots of opportunity for exercise. A larger wheel with a solid surface is best (we suggest the Silent Runner), so that legs and tails do not get caught. Avoid wheels with center axles, as these types can cause injury to a gliders back or cause them to get tangled up when the axle is covered in urine. This wheel also provides a Sandy Trimmer Track. Sandy Trimmer Tracks provide a soft, abrasive running surface for your pet while using their exercise wheel. Simply install the sandy track in place of the regular track, it takes less than a minute, and your pet’s nails will be naturally filed down as they run. Replace the sandy track with the regular track after 2-3 days (or when nails are filed) and repeat weekly. Sandy branches can also be used to help keep nails filed down in the cage. Some people also use clear, plastic running balls for exercise outside the cage.

Another necessity for any cage are food and water dishes. Food can be served in any type of bowl, but it’s best to get one that can’t tip over since gliders will sometimes perch on the side while eating. A stainless steel cup attaches directly to the side of the cage and can be removed from the holder for quick refill and cleaning. Press 'N Slide Feed Stations with roof covers are very popular because they can help contain some of the mess of feeding. A heavy ceramic dish can sit on the bottom of the cage or on a shelf and would work fine as well. Water can be served in an open bowl or in a hanging water bottle. Simply make sure your glider knows how to use the drinking straw on the bottle so that it is not left without water. Glass or heavy duty acrylic dishes and bottles work best because they are more sanitary and more durable than flimsy plastic bottles. It’s best to keep dishes near the top of the cage to avoid being soiled by any falling feces or urine.

Sugar Glider in Heart Carry Bonding Pouch

Bonding with your Sugar Glider is an important part of establishing a relationship with him/her. It is easier to bond when a glider is young, but it is still possible to bond and form a relationship with a grown glider as well. Joeys or young gliders should be handled three to four times per day, for at least 30 minutes. Adult gliders may be slow to warm up, but with time and patience can become assimilated to a new family. Gliders can be shy or even aggresive at first when around unfamiliar surroundings, but by getting used to the new sights, smells and sounds, they will learn to adjust and bond to you overtime. Carry bonding pouches are extremely useful in helping with the bonding process. These are similar to nest pouches in the way that they provide a warm, comfortable place for a glider to relax, but they also have a zippered closure to keep a glider secure inside and a strap to carry around on a person. They are a safe and convenient way to spend time with your glider all day while they stay asleep in the pouch. Just walk around doing regular activities and your glider will get used to your smell of you and the sound of your voice. Another great tool to asisit with the bonding process are treats! Healthy treats have several benefits for both pets and pet owners. A treat can be any delectible snack, the most popular being yogurt drops or dried fruit. Treats can be used to coax a glider out of its pouch or hiding place and make human contact with you. Feeding treats by hand help to form a connection between gliders and pet owners, and can help your glider trust you. Read more about healthy treats. The best advice offered is to be gentle and consistent in everything you do, be patient and loving. Read more about bonding.


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Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not able to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please contact an accredited veterinarian if you have a pet emergency.