Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sugar Gliders as Exotic Pets

Sugar Gliders are a trendy exotic pet from Australia. It is important to know more about Sugar Gliders as pets if you are thinking of getting one. 

These marsupials are certainly cute, but not a pet we, at the cabin, have ever owned.  Having spoken to many Sugar Glider owners, they are a very demanding exotic pet, and one that some people have felt was a mistake to get.  Sugar Gliders are certainly not pets for the first time owner, or a person who does not have a lot of time to spend with their pet. 

Sadly, sugar gliders are often kept in cages that are far too small for a their needs; they also suffer if not kept with a companion, or not carried around for a good portion of the day (at which time they pee, and poop). 

Another concern is the age at which Sugar Gliders are sold and purchased.  Pet stores often sell retired breeding animals, in other words - old stock, with breeders selling younger animals directly to the public for higher prices than the stores are willing to pay them (indeed stores buy cheap so they can resell high).  It is very difficult to tell the age of a Sugar Glider so this is a common trick in the industry.

File:Petaurus breviceps Petauro dello zucchero.jpg
By Alessandro Di Grazia (http://www.petsugargliders.eu/) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How To Care For A Sugar Glider

Like most exotic pets, Sugar Gliders do have specific dietary requirements. They are very prone to problems with getting an improper balance of calcium to phosphorous, which will contribute to a bone disease. There for it is highly recommended you find a proper food made for Sugar Gliders. Or supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals. In an emergency you can give them good quality cat food, fresh fruit, as well as calcium enriched crickets or chicken eggs.

Housing and Care

Height of the Sugar Glider cage is very important. They are one of the few pets who actually prefer a taller cage to a long one. The cage should be at least 3 feet high for a pair of gliders, and taller if you are planning on housing more. The bars should not be more than ½ an inch apart or you will risk escape. You may house two same sexed animals in a cage, which may be better than having a breeding pair. If the cage is large enough you may have as many as four adult animals in a cage.

As they love to climb, you must provide plenty of opportunity to climb, ladders, ropes, and even bird toys are good if you cannot find actual toys for sugar gliders. They do require a place to sleep, which should be either a nest box or pouch. Because they tend to urinate in their bed you may want to get 2 pouches, so you can wash one and use the other. They may enjoy a wheel similar to what is used for hamsters.
You will want to line the bottom of the cage with newspaper and cover it lightly with pine (not cedar) shavings. Of course you need to supply a water source.

Other Information

As mentioned, these are NOT pets for beginners. They require a lot of social care. If you are only going to have one you must be able to provide it with a lot of social interaction, such as carrying it in a pouch for most of the day and evening. Remembering that Gliders are not “neat” pets. They will urinate in the pouch. Punishing them for a natural behavior is not fair. You cannot house train these small, rather primitive animals. Likewise, because they are climbers, and have sharp claws they should not be punished for scratching you when they climb on you

They are nocturnal, which means they will keep you awake at night if you plan to keep it in your bedroom. They will live for 10-15 years, about as long as a dog, are you prepared for this length of a commitment? Another question to ask is do you have a knowledgeable veterinarian in your area, who can provide care? If you are a person who likes to take vacations, you need to be prepared to provide social care for your Sugar Glider while you are away. 
These are not cheap pets and they have very special requirements. Getting a pet should never be taken lightly, and this is especially true of exotics like Sugar Gliders. I encourage you to do more research on your own before getting a Sugar Glider (or any pet). Use multiple sources and especially those from people with nothing to gain. Somebody who is trying to sell you a pet has their income on the line. They may not be totally honest about the work or expense involved.

An alternative pet would be a Rabbit or Guinea Pig. Both are awake in the day, and so much is known about them that it is easier to find good care for a sick animal. Neither are as demanding as Sugar Gliders, and both come in some rarer forms. Good luck with your selection of the right pet.


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  2. I have heard of these pets but I really don't know much about them, will need to do more searching for info. Thanks for sharing, you have quite a bit of knowledge about unique pets. Keep posting!

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  4. I have no doubt if there are some people decided to keep this animal as pet. They are so cute, with those big, black round eyes. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. those big round black eyes will hypnotize you to keeping one...

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