Sugar gliders can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years as long as they’re in captivity and taken proper care of. With that said, if you want your pet to live longer, you should consider looking up cages for sugar gliders. Of course, there are several other factors to consider, which we’ll get into down the line.
Sugar-Gliding From Down Under
At first glance, you might think that sugar gliders are rodents – more specifically related to squirrels. Not the case at all. In fact, sugar gliders are marsupials, just like kangaroos, koalas, and opossums. You’ll notice the similarity to kangaroos once you realize that female sugar gliders have a pouch in which they raise their younglings.
Wild sugar gliders typically have gray fur with a black stripe on their back and a white belly. Domesticated sugar gliders, on the other hand, were bred to have a variety of colors and patterns. This is by far the easiest way to tell the difference between the two. Obviously, if you’ve never dealt with sugar gliders before, it’s a good idea to get domesticated ones.
Keeping sugar gliders as pets
Sugar gliders make excellent pets as long as you treat them well. You can get them from shelters, breeders and even pet stores. To find a pair in the least possible amount of time, you can search for sugar gliders for sale/adoption online.
Keep in mind that they are very social animals. That’s why we recommend getting at least a pair. They get very depressed when left alone, which ultimately impacts their lifespan. Fair warning: if you want to keep a male and a female sugar glider but don’t want them to copulate, you will have to neuter the male after about 5 or 6 months of age.
The procedure is simple and can be performed by most veterinarians. So you shouldn’t have any problem with that. If you don’t neuter them, they’ll copulate like crazy. Males mature sexually at about 8 months of age and females at around 12 months. Once they mature, they can reproduce rapidly.
As mentioned earlier, they are very social animals. As such, they’re very friendly both to their cage-mates and to humans. They have no problems adapting to new homes as long as they are taken care of properly. They love to curl up in shirt pockets because of their natural instinct to stay inside their mother’s pouch. Keep that in mind if you plan on taking them for a “walk”.
How to properly care for sugar gliders
These adorable pets are very energetic even when they’re young. You should get the biggest possible cage that you can afford to store in your house. That way they’ll be able to jump, leap and play around as much as they can. If they’re confined to a small space for a long time, they might get depressed and stressed out.
The bar spacing on your cage should be no bigger than half an inch because sugar gliders are very versatile and can escape easily. You should allow them outside their cages daily, but only under watchful eyes. Their curious nature will make them explore places they shouldn’t and possibly get lost.
Going back to the cage, it should contain as many branches and shelves as possible. Set them up at different height levels so that they always have where to jump and perch. That way they’ll consume energy and be happy. You can also add several toys that further keep them distracted and drain their energy.
Last but not least, make sure to put a water dish and a sipper bottle, along with multiple food dishes. You never know when they’ll go hungry or thirsty and it’s best to keep their supplies as conveniently placed as possible.
How to feed sugar gliders
Sugar gliders are omnivores, so they require both meat and grass or vegetal foods. To this day, nobody knows what their optimum diet is, but one thing’s for sure: they need protein. In the wild, they consume very few fruits and many insects. They also like feeding on tree saps, pollen, and nectar from flowers as well as gum from their native eucalyptus and acacia trees.
Anyway, even though nobody knows their optimum diet for sure, the best version that was discovered so far goes as follows: 25% protein (be it from meat, eggs or insects), 25% green leaves, vegetables and small fruits (including papaya, grapes, berries, carrots, and sweet potatoes, as well as pellets containing greens), and 50% commercial sugar glider pellets.
If, however, you find it hard to respect this diet, you can also feed them something that so far has stood the test of time when it comes to feeding sugar gliders. The recipe is called Leadbeater’s mix and it goes as follows: combine nectar powder with water, one hardboiled egg, protein-rich cereal for human babies, honey and a multivitamin supplement.
Note that the meal must be refrigerated and discarded if not eaten within three days after preparation. Sugar gliders’ digestive system is more sensitive than our own, so you risk getting them sick if you feed them older food. Always make sure to get fresh ingredients and prepare them properly. You can even search for videos that show you how to do this in detail.
If in doubt, ask a veterinarian exactly what ingredients to get and how to prepare your sugar glider’s meal.
What if your sugar glider gets sick?
Sadly, just like us and other animals, sugar gliders aren’t immune to diseases or infections. They can get cancer, suffer traumatic injuries and organ failure as well as bacterial and parasitic infections. However, the most common illnesses they encounter are obesity and malnutrition as a result of improper diets, stress-related diseases when left alone too much, and dental issues.
Whatever the case may be, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian whose expertise is marsupials. If you can’t find one in your area, try to at least find one online and describe your pet’s problems as detailed as you possibly can.
If necessary, take your pet and drive to the vet’s office as soon as you can. It is crucial to take care of your pet’s problems, as they can seriously reduce their lifespan.
Performing a complete physical examination is relatively easy. Your vet will only require you to restrain the sugar glider gently while they do their job. However, for more invasive procedures, your pet might need an anesthetic. These procedures might involve taking a stool or blood sample to analyze for parasites and other diseases.
Lastly, even though sugar gliders don’t require annual vaccines, it is still best to take them for a complete checkup at least once a year.
Sugar gliders are adorable, energetic, friendly, and overall wonderful pets. As long as you take proper care of them, they can live up to 15 years. Just make sure to keep an eye on their diet, take them to the vet at least once a year, and keep them happy by offering them a large enough cage with many toys, shelves, and branches.
Feeding them can be challenging, but not necessarily hard. Your vet can determine what diet your particular sugar glider reacts best to. Follow your vet’s advice as well as you can and your sugar glider will most likely stay healthy for a very long time. Of course, you should also request your vet to neuter the male sugar glider.
A kind reminder: they tend to copulate at just 8 months of age. So unless you plan on raising sugar gliders for a living, you’ll be thankful that you’ve neutered them on time. More sugar gliders mean more cages that take up a lot of space in your house. So unless you live in a big castle, it might not be the best idea to start a sugar glider farm.
And as a last advice, consider the fact that sugar gliders are high maintenance pets that require a lot of attention and care. You should seriously ask yourself if you have the time, energy and patience to properly care for such pets. Talk to breeders and veterinarians about this so you can find out the definitive answer.
If you’re uncertain, it’s best not to venture into this field. It’s not for everyone. But, hey, even if you’re not going to raise them, you can still visit breeders and admire these gorgeous creatures in all their splendor.