Does a Sugar Glider Make A Good Pet?

I was going to get a sugar glider and decided that I had better do my research on them first. I learned everything I could about them before I came to my decision.

Does a sugar glider make a good pet? This depends on how much of a commitment you can make. For most people, I’d say no, especially if you have kids. Sugar Gliders can be aggressive, need lots of attention, and live between 7 and 15 years. They do make great pets to those who can commit to them.

If you are thinking about getting a sugar glider then make sure you know what you are getting into. Many people purchase one and realize that they made a mistake once they bring it home. They aren’t for everyone. There is, actually, a lot of controversy surrounding this species. Many groups don’t think it should be legal for them to be owned as pets. Some states have even outlawed owning them altogether.

They have only recently been imported into the United States and many vets are unfamiliar with them. There is not as much information on these creatures as there are for other pets. It’d be a good idea to find and talk with multiple sugar glider owners and do extensive research before purchasing.

Here are some important things you should consider:

Sugar Gliders Should Be Purchased in Groups Or Pairs

Sugar gliders are extremely social creatures and should be purchased together in groups or pairs. They should not be purchased by themselves and kept as pets. If housed by themselves they are known to self-mutilate! They can cause a lot of damage to themselves which will require immediate veterinary care. They are very emotional and very moody creatures.

They need constant interaction. They must have several hours of socialization each day with other sugar gliders. It’s best to house them in family groups of 2-6. This is important! If you want to get a sugar glider then you should get two. This will protect the emotional health of your pet and spare you the money and stress of having to deal with a self-mutilating animal! If you get different sexes you will need to neuter the male.

They Aren’t Good With Children

They are not good pets for children. They can be aggressive until they bond with their owner. They have only recently been bred as pets in the U.S. and are considered exotic animals.  Once they do bond with their owner they can be held, but even then they still may bite. Many owners report that even after the bond is established they are careful not to stick their hands in the cage too aggressively—as to not get bitten.

The temperament of these creatures does not match the cute and cuddly features they portray. If they are around strangers they can be aggressive. They have a lot of energy. In the wild, their home base can consist of up to 17 acres. No cage you provide for them will be able to compete with this. They can be extremely dangerous around small children and babies even when domesticated. They are wild!

 

SugarGlider1
©Suncoast Sugar Gliders

 

They Require 1-3 Hours Of Attention Each Day

Sugar gliders are known for moving around. They do not like to sit still. It takes consistent time and attention to tame them to the point where they like being held. They’re not easily domesticated. It will require constant work as they are an exotic species. Keep this in mind when handing them; especially before it’s bonded to you.

They need at least 1-3 hours per day of attention and can take several weeks to several months for a bond to be established. Many owners report that it took much longer for their sugar gliders to bond with them than they originally expected.  If you have the time to dedicate then you shouldn’t have too much of an issue but expect to get bitten once or twice in the process.

They Develop Strong Bonds With Their Owners

Many sugar glider owners report that once a bond is established their sugar gliders view them as their protector. They compare it to an imprint birds make with their owners. They like to sit on their owner’s shoulders and crawl on them. They are very loyal creatures and love to be with their owners. Many people carry them around in a pouch on their waist or neck.

Once they are tamed and bonded they can travel on your person.

They Need a Large Cage or Enclosure

Sugar gliders love to climb and prefer multi-level cages over stand-a-lone cages. The minimum dimensions of the cage should be 24x24x30 (height). They are best kept when the bottom of the cage is lined with recycled paper or bedding (which should be changed daily). You should provide multiple nesting boxes or fleece pouches for sleeping as they like to have multiple spots for hiding and sleeping.

 

SugarGlider2
©Pet Ponder

 

They Are Nocturnal

Sugar gliders sleep during the day and are active at night. This should be taken into consideration when deciding where to house them. They are loud creatures and often make strange sounds (especially when stressed or nervous). You will want to make sure that they are housed far enough away from where you’ll be sleeping. It’s also a good idea to keep them away from crowded and loud areas as they will want to sleep most of the day and might not want to be disturbed.

Sugar Gliders Diet

Sugar gliders are new to the United States. Many vets are not experienced with them and a standard diet has not been developed yet. Most people don’t understand the correct diet they should be on. Many diets recommended by inexperienced owners are inappropriate and can lead to nutritional disease and other issues.

According to research gathered by Purdue University, an ideal diet for a sugar glider could consist of avian pelleted diets, formulated primate diets, lorry nectar, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and insects\

The Chicago Zoological Park Diet is one of several recommended by Purdue:

Chicago Zoological Park Diet

1 tsp. each

 apple, carrot, sweet potato, banana, leaf lettuce

½ hard-boiled egg yolk

1 T. Nebraska Feline diet (or Zupreem or Mazuri)

1 dozen Meal Worms 

State Regulation To Be Aware Of

Sugar gliders are legal to own in most states but they are illegal in California & Alaska. They require a special permit to own in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. You should check with your State’s Fish, Game, and Wildlife Department to get a good understanding of the laws in your region. Many animal rights organizations are lobbying to change these laws and make them illegal to own in all 50 states. Be sure to do the proper amount of research on your local laws before buying one.

What is a sugar glider and where do they come from?

Sugar gliders are marsupials that are native to Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and Papua-New Guinea. They have a preference for sweet foods and have a gliding membrane that allows them to glide from tree to tree. This is how they got their name.

Sugar gliders First Came to the U.S. In the 1990s

They are exotic animals and were first brought and introduced to the United States in the 1990s. There is a legal trade market for sugar gliders in the United States and Internationally but they are also popular in illegal exotic animal markets. They are not legal in every state. There is much controversy on whether they should be allowed to own as pets in the U.S. One of the chief complaints of animal rights groups is the deplorable conditions some of them are born into. They compare it to puppy mills.

 

So does a sugar glider make a good pet? Hopefully, by now, you have a good enough idea to judge the answer for yourself. As I said in the beginning, I don’t believe they are well suited for most people. If you have experience with a wide variety of animals then you should already have an idea of what you are getting into. If not then consider the hard work and commitment that goes into owning these peculiar creatures before purchasing a pair.

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