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  So what is a sugar glider?

 

People rush into buying these cute little Fuzz buds without looking at all the factors, let's face it, they are cute.  But due to lack of knowledge the gliders end up homeless, sick and dead. It is important to do a lot of research, and only when you fully understand all the needs of a Sugar glider, should you consider purchasing one.

Sugar gliders are very intelligent, curios and sociable creatures and can be the best pet you may ever have. The smell is faint and hardly noticeable when the glider is in a clean habitat, on a good diet, and in good health.

 

It is not recommended getting a Sugar glider for a child because everything from diet to general care should be overseen by a responsible adult.

Sugar gliders are nocturnal, therefore waking up after sun set. In order for you to spend quality time with your pet you will have to be up when they are. This can be tiring and takes a lot of dedication and commitment. Sugar gliders have very specific dietary, housing and playtime needs.

Sugar gliders are very social and therefore it is recommended you purchase at least two, as they are colony animals. Without a friend, they tend to stress, over groom, and can even self mutilate or die.

Find out if it is legal in your area to own a Sugar glider.

 

Veterinarians who are familiar with Sugar gliders are hard to find. Click on the word Veterinarians to take you to reliable knowledgeable vets.

Sugar gliders cannot be potty trained, they go whenever, wherever including on you. Sugar gliders are nocturnal and can get a bit noisy at night. Barking, playing with toys with bells and spinning off in their wheels can make it difficult for some people to sleep. As for playtime needs, carrying them in a pouch on you all day while they are asleep is not enough. They need to interact in the evening for at least 2 hours every night.

Playtime Gliding


Sugar gliders can live up to 10 to 15 years in captivity, however, statistics show that the average lifespan of a sugar glider in captivity is around 7 to 10 years.  Re-homing a glider is not an option, as this is stressful to them. Sugar gliders consider everyone in their human family as part of their colony. They are really clever and become very attached to their owners once bonded.

Yes, they do bite! During the first few days after purchasing your glider, you will have to start with the bonding process. This will require a lot of patience, commitment and time. Your glider will learn to trust you during this time of bonding; therefore it is imperative that you do not do anything to break this relationship of trust. Also during the bonding period, you will get bitten quite often. Never shout or discipline your glider in any way when he bites you, he is scared and needs to associate you with only pleasant things. You need to consider what to do with your glider when you go out of town as there are not a lot of people who has knowledge of these little critters. In general Sugar gliders don't get sick often or easily, but when they do get sick, your vet bill will be substantially high. Their health can decline quickly, and therefore you will need to have an EMERGENCY VET FUND.

Having said all of this, my intentions are not to discourage you from having a Sugar glider as a pet. If you have the knowledge and commitment required to own one of these unique and beautiful babies, you are on your way to a most fulfilling journey with your Sugar glider for many years to come.


What to look for:

The decision to get a sugar glider should not be taken lightly. Do not buy your glider from a mill breeder. Do not buy impulsively. Good breeders will ask you lots of question as they will want to make sure the gliders are going to a good home. Be prepared to answer these questions - do not feel offended. Too many people rush into getting these wonderful animals without considering what is best for the sugar glider or themselves, leaving many sugar gliders homeless as soon as the novelty wears off.

  1. Healthy Sugar Glider Fur should be soft, fluffy, smooth and clean without stains. 
  2. No broken or oily fur, unexplained wetness or bald spots. 
  3. Tail should be full, fluffy, and flexible.
  4. No bends or breaks in the tail.
  5. They should be alert, responsive, and active.
  6. Inactive, lethargic, shaking or even overly active is not a good sign.

 

Ask many questions to the breeder when collecting your new glider.


The first week at home with your new glider will be stressful to you and the new glider. Every glider has a different personality and reacts to things in different ways. Best is to leave your new glider in its cage for at least one to three days to allow him to adjust to his new surroundings. Do not chase him around in his cage. Sugar gliders are wild, exotic animals, and are prone to stress.


Signs of stress:

-Barking or crying
- Most common sign of stress. You must pay attention to this by trying to calm him.

Crabbing or becoming pouch protective:
- Normal and common behavior and happens while they are still adjusting to their new surroundings.

Lunging, nipping or biting:
- Carrying these gliders in bonding pouches and talking softly will help.
- You should spend as much time as possible with your glider.

Not eating:
- Anytime when you glider does not eat for more than 3 days, contact your vet asap.

Soft stools:
- Can be caused by bacterial imbalance. Feeding a teaspoon of yogurt may help get the sugar glider back on track. If stools are not normal again in 24 hours, take the glider to the vet.

Skunking:
- This is a defense tactic for sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders can become ill due to stress. Best is to keep them calm. Do not chase them. Best is to take your new glider to your vet within 48 hours of arrival at your house.


Signs and Symptoms of an ill sugar glider

 

Broken or oily fur, unexplained wetness or bald spots
Bends or breaks in the tail or any visible wounds
Sudden change in urine or fecal colour,, smell and consistency
Awake during the day time
Lack of grooming
Discharge from the nose, eyes or excessive sneezing sounds
Any swelling or lumps
Abnormal sleeping patterns or eating habits
Dragging limbs
Lack of eliminating urine or feces
Flattened ears
Inactive, lethargic, shaking or even overly active like seizures, jerking involuntary or falling over
Yellowing can occur from incorrect diet or poor living conditions
Change in the colour of the nose
Shaking head from time to time or pawing at an irritation at the face
Sudden change in weight
Wetness on the throat, tummy or cloaca

 

Take great caution when getting your sugar glider from Pet Stores- There may be a FEW exceptions to this rule, however when possible avoid purchasing sugar gliders from pet stores, online classifieds, mill breeders, Flea Markets or Trade Shows.


Reasons not to buy from a mill breeder:

 

  1. Possibly inbred.
  2. Joeys too young to be sold.
  3. Self neutering (neutering may be performed only by a licensed vet).
  4. They may be infected with parasites, bacterial infections, or have other illnesses.
  5. Drugged to give the appearance of tameness.
  6. Little or No "after sale" support.
  7. False information regarding their care and maintenance.


Visit www.millbreederproject.com for information on mill breeders.


One or two gliders?


Sugar gliders are very social. It is best to keep them in pairs or colonies. Lonely gliders can over groom, or even self mutilate. Loneliness is NOT the only possible cause for a sugar glider to self mutilate. Any self mutilating sugar glider should be taken to a vet ASAP.

Some sugar gliders tend to be "OK" when they are alone, but are prone to obesity and boredom. While you are your glider's best friend, you can't play and communicate like another sugar glider would. People are not usually nocturnal like sugar gliders. They will need someone to play and interact with in the wee hours of the morning, and a warm body to cuddle up to while they are asleep in their cage.

Any sugar glider that is housed alone needs to be watched carefully to ensure the animals health and happiness remain intact.

We do not recommend sugar gliders to be housed alone long term. Most responsible breeders will not sell a sugar glider that is intended to be housed alone its entire life.

 

Boy or girl?


The temperament of both male and female is all about the individuality of the glider. You should meet your new glider in person to ensure that you are comfortable with their personality.


Male and Female Sugar Gliders:


Both male and female sugar gliders mark their territory, with almost no smell when on a good diet, have good health and is in a clean environment.

Intact males have a musky odor due to active scent glands. Due to the complex reproductive system, females are never recommended to be altered. If a male is neutered before puberty, the scent glands do not develop and the bald spots will disappear. Females tend to smell less than males, due to less active scent glands. Pair only neutered males as companions as their hormone levels will drop after the neutering. Introducing females at a young age increases your chances of the females getting along. By neutering your male, the scent glands become less active and therefore the sugar glider has less odor. Usually two or more females will get along great provided they are introduced properly. Neutered males are usually more loving and sweet towards both humans and their cage mates. Pairing an intact male and female together will most likely result in breeding and offspring.


Gliders and Other pets?

 
Other pets should be kept out of the room where your gliders are housed if possible.

In the wild, large birds are a glider's biggest threat. There should be no interaction between your gliders and your birds.

Cats will not leave your glider alone as they are natural hunters and will see your glider as prey. The cat treat catnip should also not be kept in your house as it is highly toxic to sugar gliders.

Dogs might want to bite your glider as they are intrigued by them. Your dog may get along with your glider, but accidents (like a clumsy paw) happen. Dogs should be kept away from gliders.

Rabbits should also be kept away from gliders as they are carriers of the very dangerous respiratory virus called Pasteruellosis.

Immediate vet care should be obtained for a sick glider. Self diagnosis/treatment does not work.


Bringing your glider home for the first time


Please do not rush in making a decision to get a sugar glider as a pet. While they make the most wonderful companions, you will have to make a lot of sacrifices in order to be a proper glider parent.

A lot of research should be done. From your research you will realize that you will need the following items for the new introduction to the family:

  1. Cage:
  2. Bigger cages are better with no more than 1cm bar spacing
  3. Get a couple of sleeping pouches. One pouch in a cage is not enough.
  4. Get all diet supplies. This will vary according to the diet you chose to feed your glider.
  5. A hamster water bottle works fine, get the one without the spring loaded ball.
  6. Get proper food bowls
  7. Gliders like soft fleece blankets. Use a couple in each sleeping pouch.
  8. Your glider's wheel should have a solid running base and must have no moving parts that can catch a tail or foot. No center bars either.
  9. Glider safe toys should be introduced to the cage as gliders love toys
  10. Identify a knowledgeable vet close to your area before you need him. Make sure that you have established an emergency vet fund
  11. Add a branch or two to your cage. Make sure the branches are safe for gliders.
  12. Get an emergency kit
  13. Use a bonding pouch to help with the bonding process with your glider.
  14. Your new glider's cage should be set up before you bring him home. Don't add too many toys at this stage as this will overwhelm your glider. Slowly add more toys as the bonding progresses.


Anatomy:

 


Oh my, What Big Eyes you have

 
 
The pupil (center) is black, and the color around the pupil is a dark brown. Sugar gliders have superior night vision - this means they can see exceptionally well in the dark as they are nocturnal.
Their eyes should be sparkly and clear with no discharge and should never be cloudy.


Oh my, What Big Ears you have

 

 

Sugar Gliders have perky ears and have amazing hearing. They can hear sound in the distance that humans are not able to hear. Like most animals they can "predict" the weather.
The ears will be alert when they are listening or concentrating on something. Also it will indicate fear when it is folded back against the head, and they fold their ears down like earmuffs while they are sleeping to block out noises.
Glider's ears should always be alert and clean with no discharge. They must also not show any signs of dry or crispness. Droopy ears can be a sign of illness when accompanied by other symptoms.



That Nose is so cute

 


 Smells are extremely important to gliders as they will mark their territory. Sugar Gliders rely a lot on their acute sense of smell.

A Glider's nose should always be a light pink. A sneezing glider with a runny nose could possibly have a cold or respiratory infection. (There is a difference between grooming and sneezing).



Oh my, what beautiful whiskers you have

 


 
Sugar gliders use whiskers as a sense organ for movement and touch. There are a few whiskers located around the nose, cheek and the corners of the eyes.

 

Jeepers Look at those Teethers

 


 
Sugar gliders are sap suckers by nature, sucking nutrition out of their food and spitting out tiny pulp pieces. They have 40 teeth of which the top two front ones are sharp and bigger than the rest. Gliders teeth DO NOT continue to grow and DO NOT need to be filed.
There should not be any swelling around the mouth and jaw. Sugar gliders can get cavities.

 
Oh my, is that a Tongue?


 
Nose I guess they needs a long tongue to lap nectar from blossoms, and chew/mash their food. The tongue pushes the food up against the front teeth, to squeeze out the "juice", and then spit out the pulp. They also have 2 bumps on the bottom lip. 

 

What pretty FUR you have


 
Fur Sugar gliders are clean little creatures that have beautiful soft and silky fur. There are different coat colours. After "sneezing", spitting into their hands, they groom themselves and can reach every single spot on their bodies.
It is normal for the fur to appear "mutted" around joints, or on older gliders.
The fur on the underbelly should not appear yellow.


Oh, those lovely Furry tails


 
Tail The sugar glider's tail is capable of carrying nesting materials, and helps balance and steer the glider when gliding. They also use their tail as a form of distraction towards their prey, waving the tail back and forth high in the air.
There should not be any hair loss on the tail.


Precious hands and feet

 
Hands and feet Sugar gliders have 4 fingers and a thumb on each hand, and their feet have 4 fingers and an opposable thumb. The two fingers closest to the opposable thumb on the feet are fused together to use as a comb for grooming. On both hands and feet every digit has a nail, except for the opposable thumb on the feet. They use their claws and nails to grip on objects for better climbing/landing.


Oh my, a Patagium (Gliding Membrane)

The gliding membrane stretches from wrist to ankle on each side of the Sugar glider's body. It is tucked close to the body when not in use. It has been recorded that they can glide at least 50 meters (or 150 ft.). As a Sugar glider leaps from a branch the gliding membranes spreads out. The glider will steer his direction with adjusting the angle of the membranes and the tail. Just before landing, the glider swoops upward to slow down for touchdown. This is usually a forceful impact.
The membranes should be clear of swelling or irritation.

 


Is it a boy or a girl

Males and females have a Cloaca where the reproductive, urinary and gastrointestinal tracts open.


Males:


Males have "pom-poms", the sack that contains the testicles.

 

Males have a bald spot (scent gland) on their foreheads.

 

Males have a chest scent gland.

 

Males have scent glands alongside the cloaca, on the surface of the hands and feet, the corners of the mouth and inside the surface of the ear.



In neutered males the bald spot can disappear over a period of time due to the decreased hormonal activity. The scent glands develop during puberty and produce an oily substance they will rub all over their territory.

A male sugar glider has a long, pink-ish-red bifurcated (tip of penis slits in two) penis.

During puberty the male will let his penis hang out and groom the penis. This is normal. The penis should always retract, and "overgrooming" the penis or hissing when urinating is not considered normal.

Sexual maturity: Males can reach sexual maturity as young as 4 months (sometimes even younger). We suggest that they should not be bred until they are at least 10 months out of pouch, better yet 1 year out of pouch.

Heart rate: 200 to 300 beats per minute
Respiratory rate: 15 to 40 breaths per minute


Females:


Females have scent glands alongside the cloaca, pouch, surface of the hands and feet, corners of the mouth and inside the surface of the ears.



They have an abdominal pouch on the tummy area, with 4 teats inside the pouch.

The gestation period is 15 to 17 days, and they give birth to 2 - 3 babies at a time which is about the size of a cooked grain of rice. The babies will make their way to the pouch where they will continue to develop for the next 60 to 70 days. After this period, now being OOP (out of pouch) and called joeys, it will take about 8 weeks until they are safely weaned.

The reproductive tract of female gliders is bifurcated. This means that the vagina and uterus are double. (The uterus of a marsupial is divided and each side has its own vagina.) The male glider's penis is also bifurcated to match. Marsupial eggs have a yolk. Nutrients are transferred across the yolk sac wall. Females are 'seasonally polyestrous' in cycle. They remain in heat, until they either breed, or the season ends. The younger the female, the higher risk of neglecting their babies.

The pouch should never be red, swollen, or have a discharge.



Sexual maturity: 5 to 6 months

Heart rate: 200 to 300 beats per minute

Respiratory rate: 15 to 40 breaths per minute
In Captivity

Please DO NOT obtain gliders as pets without FIRST checking your local laws concerning sugar gliders. Sugar gliders, Petaurus Breviceps, are marsupials who carry their young in a pouch. They are not related to flying squirrels. Adults have a body length of about six to eight inches and a tail of equal or greater length. Sugar gliders are nocturnal (meaning they are only awake after dark.) They get their name from their preference of sweet things, and their gliding membrane called a patagium.

A healthy glider has a soft and smooth coat with a fluffy tail, and is well groomed and clean. Their eyes should be clear and bright, and their nose free of discharge or drainage. Your Sugar glider will reach full growth between 1 and 2 years of age.

Weight can vary depending on the size and bone structure of the glider. Female gliders weigh between 90g and 140g, and 100 and 160 for a male on "average". You should not be able to feel any bones or ribs, nor should you feel rolls of fat on the body or membranes. The average weight of a Joey out of pouch seems to be in a range of 6 grams to 15 grams.

It is also important to note that sugar gliders, while they can be kept as single pets, have a greater chance at a full, happy life if they have a BUDDY. Getting your glider a cage mate is best done by acquiring two glider joeys at the same time from the same breeder. If you acquire a male and a female, remember that the male needs to be NEUTERED by 10 weeks of the time the glider came "out of pouch".

Female gliders CAN be spayed BUT, it is a very invasive procedure and is only recommended as a last resort for a life threatening medical condition, not used as a form of birth control. Spaying a female does not guarantee they will die but it is extremely risky due to their anatomy and their size.Getting two females, for instance sisters of the same age, is fine. Getting two males may require you to neuter BOTH of them by 14 weeks OOP (Out Of Pouch date). If you get a single glider and later decide to obtain a cage mate for him/her, it is essential that you follow the introduction rules.

Sugar gliders do not need immunizations. They have a lower body temperature that will keep them safe from many illnesses such as Rabies. If your glider comes in contact with Rabies, it could not get or spread the disease.You can safely take a few photos of your sugar glider using the flash. Occasionally using the flash feature on your camera will not harm the sugar glider's eyes. Do not use it repetitively for long photo sessions.
In the Wild

"Sugar gliders in the wild" used with the permission of http://spin4suggies.com

Distribution Sugar Gliders are found in Australia across most of Victoria as well as New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and New Guinea. They have also been introduced into Tasmania. They are mostly found in open forest and woodlands where trees have hollows in them but are most common where there is a mixture of Eucalypt species and larger acacias or wattles.
Home Sugar Gliders live in colonies in tree hollows where they build bowl-shaped nests, usually from green leaves. Colonies usually consist of between two and seven male and female adult gliders. Gliders are very social and active animals, and will play together.
Territories A male Sugar Glider defines the territory of his group by marking the boundaries with scented secretions from glands on his head and chest. Both females and males can also mark their territory with their saliva. The dominant male in each group uses the glands on his head and chest to mark the other members of his group, as well.
Breeding Sugar Gliders breed between June and January each year. It takes 16 days for the babies to be born. Each female usually has two young. The babies are very small. They remain in their mother's pouch, which has four nipples, for about 70 days and then they can be left in the nest for about 50 days before they are able to head out on their own.Sugar Gliders usually live for four to five years, but can live for up to nine years in the wild.
Feeding Sugar Gliders generally forage alone at night. They eat a wide range of foods including: invertebrates acacia gum eucalyptus sap which they obtain by scraping bark off trees manna

 

Sounds you will hear:

 

Chattering and hissing

 

 

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