Sugar Gliders are small marsupials, native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia and were introduced to the United States in 1996. The average size of a Sugar Glider is 5-7 inches, and their tails are of equal length or longer. These cute little marsupials live about 12-15 years in captivity and are nocturnal. Sugar Gliders are very social animals and live in colonies, they communicate with each other by scent marking, barking, hissing, sneezing, and “crabbing”.
Sugar Gliders are omnivores and eat insects, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. In captivity, a balanced diet with supplementation is vital to keeping them healthy and preventing many common disease conditions as a result of improper feeding.
Similar to the American Flying Squirrel, Sugar Gliders have a gliding membrane that stretches from their front to hind limb, which enables them to glide up to 50 meters! In the wild, Sugar Gliders live in treetops and glide from tree to tree in search of food. Their large eyes enable them to see very well at night, making them very good hunters.
Female Sugar Gliders give birth just about 18 days after gestation. The small under-developed joey, approximately the size of a grain of rice, makes its way to its mother’s pouch where they continue to develop for another 10 weeks. Sugar Gliders are very good parents, while the joey is very young, each parent takes turns staying with them while the other one leaves the nest to eat. Once the Sugar Glider joey is large enough to leave the nest, they “hitch-hike” on their parents’ backs.
Sugar Gliders are considered an exotic pet due to their size and special dietary needs. Being recently introduced as a household pet, there is not a lot of research on them, and finding veterinary care can be very challenging and expensive.
Scent plays a major role in the way Sugar Gliders identify with others in the colony and their human companions. Daily handling is recommended and truly rewarding once they are bonded. Sugar Gliders can make great pets with a lot of time and dedication.