Sugar Gliders: Caring for Your Pet
It’s no wonder that sugar gliders are among the most popular exotic pets. Their large, black eyes, velvety-soft fur, and small, striped bodies are irresistible to animal lovers. Although they appear to be an extraordinary species of mouse, they’re not rodents. Originally from the tropical regions of Australia and Indonesia, sugar gliders are marsupials. They’re related to kangaroos and koalas and have a special membrane between their front and hind legs, which allows them to glide from tree to tree like flying squirrels. While affectionate, incredibly clean, and having a lifespan of up to 15 years, sugar gliders are an exotic animal and do require special care.
If you purchase your sugar glider as a baby, you can start with a small cage to help with the bonding process. Once they reach maturity, you’ll want to get a taller, larger cage measuring at least 20″ x 20″ x 30.″ Bird cages work well, or you can purchase a tall cage made specifically for sugar gliders.
Ensure the habitat includes:
- Bedding, such as wood shavings or shredded paper.
- A hanging water bottle.
- A flat-bottomed food dish which attaches to the side of the cage.
- Branches to climb.
- Toys, such as swings, ladders, or various bird toys.
- An enclosed sleeping area, such as a nesting box or pouch.
Sugar gliders are omnivores. As their name suggests, they have a sweet tooth, but it’s important their diet is not too high in sugar. While it may not be possible to duplicate your pet’s natural, tropical diet exactly, by following these guidelines you can still ensure their health. Your sugar glider’s diet should include:
- Protein. Feed a prepared, commercial insectivore mix. Consult with your pet care professional on the recommended brands, serving amounts, and feeding schedule. Give raw, unsalted nuts sparingly.
- Nectar from a prepared nectar mix.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as greens, tomatoes, and carrots.
- Proper supplements. Calcium deficiency can be a problem for domestic sugar gliders, so be sure to supplement with a good multivitamin containing calcium and vitamin D3.
- A few treats. Give live insects, such as crickets and earthworms, a few times a week. Larval-stage insects, such as mealworms, should be given sparingly due to their high phosphorus content (calcium to phosphorus ratio should be kept at 2:1). Other acceptable treats include bee pollen, sweet fruits such as grapes, melons, and figs, and lean, diced, unseasoned meat such as chicken or turkey.
If you’re concerned about your sugar glider’s habitat or nutritional needs, give Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital a call. We offer extensive exotic veterinary services including diagnostic testing through our in-house lab. And while we can’t give your sugar glider a rain forest, we can give him or her the next best thing: health and happiness!