Breeding glider









Serious considerations!
Sugar gliders with unknown family history should NEVER be bred AT ALL as you don't know their genetic history.  Rescued sugar gliders should NEVER be used for breeding either.

Important terms:
IP- (in pouch) or ITP- (in the pouch) term referring to a joey in a female's pouch
OOP- (out of pouch) First day joey is completely out of pouch.

Why breed?

There are a few good reasons to breed, and even more not to.

It is important to know what you are getting into BEFORE you start. The number of rescues and gliders needing homes over the past few years has increased. Make sure that this is something that you really want to do and are up to do. It is a fact that there is a lot of overpopulation and it is recommended not to breed at all. It is NOT profitable to breed with sugar gliders as there are lots of expensive foods, housing, exotic vet expenses etc to take into consideration. Will you be able to find a good home as yours for the new joeys?

Mating WoundPersonalities of some gliders change when they become mothers and fathers - they may want to have less to do with you. Pouch infection can occur resulting in immediate medical assistance. It is best to know a sugar glider for at least one year before you attempt to start breeding with them. It is very expensive to breed, keep and maintain sugar gliders. Breeding takes a lot of time. The environment where a pregnant glider is kept should be stress free. Make sure that it is legal in your area before you attempt to breed or keep a glider. Make sure that you have identified a knowledgeable exotic vet close to where the glider will be kept.  Mating wounds can occur and will need immediate vet care.


General Information

Female gliders reach sexual maturity at between 6 to 18 months old while male gliders are ready to mate at between 4 to 12 months old. Males are mature when you can see scent glands on his chest and forehead. (this is not always the case, some males mature very early) His "sack" will also drop. There are no physical signs of maturity with female gliders, and it is best to wait between 8-12 months before introducing her to a male in order to breed.

Remember to lower the sleeping area where the parents are staying to prevent the joeys from hurting themselves should they fall out of the nest. There should only be one nest during this time for the parents to sleep together with the babies.

Sugar glider colour variations:

  • White Mosaic
  • Cremino
  • WFB
  • champagne
  • Lion
  • Leo
  • Platinum
  • Mosaic
  • Powdered platinum
  • coloured mosaic
  • Classic grey
  • Ringtail
  • Black beauty


The birth process will begin by the mother glider licking a wet path from her cloacae to her pouch. This makes it easier for the joey to find its way to her pouch, and to keep the baby from getting tangled in her fur. One to two joeys are most common. Once in her pouch, the newborn joey will find and attach to a nipple. Once the joey has attached to the nipple, it will begin to swell inside the baby's mouth. Its jaw will remain locked on the nipple for the next two months. The joey will die should it come off the nipple prematurely. The entire birthing process will take only about 5 minutes.

Interesting facts:

A joey weighs 0.2 g and is about 5 mm in length. Similar in size to a grain of rice, no fur, pink in colour, blind eyes, very under developed. Ears closed and under developed. Numbs for limbs, little mobility, crawls into pouch.

Rejected joeys:

There are many reasons why a new joey may be rejected or cannibalized by its parents. Some of these are listed below:

  • Poor diet or diet deficiency
  • Inexperienced mother
  • Gliders Physical/medical problem with the joey
  • Stress or Illness

We don't always get the warning signs or answers to rejecting joeys.

Diet is so important when breeding, protein for the mommy is also very important, but you must also know that some diets are perfectly fine and you will only need to double the portions of those diets instead of increasing the protein depending on which diet you feed.  If mom is not fed a proper diet it can lead to insufficient milk production that may cause rejection or even lead to cannibalization of joeys. 

Because sugar gliders are far from domesticated, the mother will certainly put herself before the joey, as cruel as it sounds, she will put her own needs before the needs of the joeys.  This is also one of the reasons why we suggest not to breed a rescue glider.  The female will also reject or possibly cannibalize the joeys if she detects any medical issues with the joeys, this is to protect herself and prevent predators to smell the weakness and attack the colony.

Inexperienced parents is often the reason for rejected joeys, this is why it is important to have had gliders for at least a year before attempting to breed.  Although breeding is a wonderful experience, there are some cold hard truths you need to be prepared to face.

Just like you get human moms that are just not cut out to raise children, you get glider moms that is the same way.  Then you get those that are like teenage moms, they want to but just don't always know how to.

Joeys can come OOP premature, this is rare, but it can happen.

It is perfectly ok to handle your joeys from the first day they come OOP as long  as you have a bond with the mother.  Try and keep things as normal as possible for the pair.  Continue with your play times, your cuddles etc as long as the female is comfortable with it, she will let you know if she is not.  If you have a new breeding pair and has not established a bond with them yet, you may be seen as the same threat that an outsider glider will be seen which will cause stress and can lead to rejection.

Stress, psychological issues - another reason not to breed with rescues, male or female.  If you do not know the background of a sugar glider, it is best not to let them breed.  Stress can have a huge impact on any sugar glider, let alone a mommy with joeys in pouch.  Stress can also have a huge impact on the daddy as he is the one to protect his little family.  Because gliders are so territorial, and threat to the colony will cause stress.  It can be anything from moving from one house to another, one room to another, one cage to another, some gliders with joeys IP or OOP can handle this, some simply can't.  If they can't these stress levels can cause them to reject their joeys until they feel safe in their new environment.  Another stress factor is other gliders near the breeding pair or colony.  Especially if there were no gliders around and you have a first time mom and dad.  Seeing, smelling or knowing about the new gliders in the house will spark their territorial behaviour and can cause aggression.  If you have more than one breeding pair, try keep the cages as far away from each other as possible or cover them to limit the smell and block the visual.

Please never remove a male from the female, this is very stressful to the female as there is no way she can keep the joeys warm and take care of her own needs (eating, exercising etc) on her own. 

Introducing new members to the breeding colony is an absolute no no.  This is extremely stressful to mom and dad.  New male members can kill the current joeys wanting to produce their own offspring, while new female members will most certainly steel the joeys which will cause friction for sure.

Mastitis can cause rejection, if the female has pain, she will not want the joeys close to her.  A joey with an injury to the leg for instance will also be groomed or taken care of by mom or dad possibly removing a part of that leg.

You need to look out for bite or scratch marks in the face, over grooming, aggression towards the joeys, joeys being left unattended and crying but non of the parents show interest.  Also remember that a joey found away from mom or the pouch is not always a sign of rejection, first try to put that joey back with mom and see if she will take it.

Be prepared and have all you need to be able to hand raise a joey at hand if you plan to breed.  A wellness check is also not a bad idea.


Joey moving in pouch


First week in pouch:

Not a lot of growing in size during this stage. The mother can easily hide the joey in the back of her pouch. It is possible to gently pick the mother up and softly touch her pouch to confirm there is a joey(s) if you have a bonded or tame glider. DO NOT OPEN HER POUCH, if the joey comes off the nipple at this stage it will die. It won't be able to reattach, and hand feeding at this stage is not possible. Increase the protein in the diet of the mother at this time.

Interesting facts:

Size- similar in size to a green pea. No fur, pink in colour, ears and eyes remain closed. Jaw still under developed and little mobility.

Second week in pouch:

You may see a dark spot or small lump depending on the mother and position of the joey. The mother can still hide her little joey fairly easily in the back of her pouch. It becomes more possible to gently feel for the joey if the mother is tame. Do not check the female everyday for babies. This can cause unnecessary stress and ultimately lead to rejection of the joeys.

Interesting facts:

Size- doubled since birth - similar in size to a small shelled peanut, no fur, pink in colour, ears and eyes remain closed. Jaw still under developed, feet are beginning to become more defined, tail is starting to form, still little mobility.

Third to fourth weeks in pouch:

A lump is visible by looking at your mommy glider. If there are twins in pouch, you will see a lump on each side of her pouch. Should there be only one baby, the pouch will appear to be lopsided. If you do not see a lump by now, it is possible that the mother has rejected or cannibalized the joey. There are several reasons this will happen such as diet deficiency, unknown defect or illness with the joey, stress, too young to breed, or if it was her first time, she may not have known how to care for the joey.

Interesting facts: Size- similar in size to a grape. No fur, pink in colour, head and eyes grow larger, ears are still fused to the head, eyes are still closed, toes starting to form, tail not quite as long as the joeys body, jaw still locked and now we see slight movements.

Up to seven weeks in pouch:

Breeding glider

The mother glider is quite large now. It is amazing how active she can be. The baby can be seen through the pouch as the skin is fairly thin and transparent. You may get to see a little tail or foot slip through the pouch opening. Although sugar gliders are arboreal (living in trees), and like to be up high, you may want to consider moving their sleeping pouch down as this will make it less likely for joeys to get hurt when they wander out of the pouch.




Interesting facts: The baby glider is similar in size and shape to a peanut with its shell and will grow quite rapidly. Pink fur, dark sections can be seen where black hair will grow in, wet or shiny appearance, tail as long as joeys body, nails and whiskers are starting to grow, ears still fused, eyes become larger, eyelids start to develop, nose appears, disproportion to its head, jaw remains locked and movements can be seen from outside the pouch.



Up to nine weeks in pouch:

Joeys between 8-9 weeks in pouch will be ready to survive the world outside their mother's pouch. Most breeders calculate the out of pouch (OOP) date when the joey is detached from the mother's teat, and no longer fits inside moms pouch. The glider mother may start to sing to her joeys around this time. Each mother has a different song, and each song will sound different. Once fully out of pouch, the new joey will begin to nurse by sticking its head into her pouch. The father glider may baby sit the joey to keep it warm. You may also see the babies hang under the mother's abdomen as she moves about the cage. You should watch both parent gliders for any rejection. You can handle the joey now but only for limited durations at a time (2-5 minutes), and only where the mother glider can watch you. Continue the high protein diet for the mother glider, as this will help with her milk production.

sexing joeyInteresting facts: The baby will weigh between 12 to 18 grams, moderately furred upon coming out of pouch, ears are beginning to pop out, eyes remain closed.  You will be able to determine the joey's gender. The baby glider will stay in the pouch during this time up to two weeks out of pouch: Do not hold the joey for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The baby glider might cry for his/her mom while you are holding it. The baby can be calmed by keeping it warm in a scented fleece blanket with it's mom's smell on it. The glider mother may be stressed when you hold the joey for the first couple of times. Do not overstress the mother glider - limit the holding periods to absolutely the minimum. Use a soft voice when talking to the joey.

Interesting facts:

One week out of pouch: weight of joey 12 to 22 grams.

Two weeks out of pouch: weight of joey 16 to 26 grams, fur is increasing on legs, it becomes vocal, top teeth starting to come through, joey will stay in the nest and may ride on the back of his parents.

Up to four weeks out of pouch: The personality of a joey will start to develop around this time. You can hold the joey for up to 30 minutes at a time. The joey will be very active. A three week out of pouch joey will weigh 17 to 27 grams. A four week out of pouch joey will weigh 23 to 33 grams. The joey will be completely furred on the underside. Tail will start to fluff out. The joey will start to experiment with its vocal cords, teeth are in and the joey will nibble on your nails, hair and fingers. He may ride on the back of his parents.

Up to six weeks out of pouch: Exploration of the cage with his parents will start. Food bowls will be visited and different foods will be tasted. The joey will mostly try the fruits and juices at first. Please do not separate the joey from its parents yet.  A five week out of pouch joey will weigh 30 to 40 grams. A six week out of pouch joey will weigh 35 to 45 grams. The joey will start to eat solid foods like fruits around the age of 5 weeks OOP.  He will ride on the back of his parents and may attempt short glides.

Eight to ten weeks out of pouch: The joey is now ready to live on his own. Each joey will develop at its own pace. Most gliders are ready at 8 weeks others may take a bit longer. A seven week out of pouch joey will weigh 40 to 50 grams.   An eight week out of pouch joey will weigh 45 to 60 grams.


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