Sugar Glider Care

Sugar Glider Care

Biological Facts

  • Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)
  • Tree-dwelling, nocturnal marsupial from Australia and New Guinea
  • Diet during the spring and summer months consists almost entirely of insects and other prey items; diet during the fall and winter consists of eucalyptus sap, acacia gum, nectar, and manna (sap that oozes from wounds on trees)
  • Live in large family groups (colonies) of 15-30 individuals
  • Can glide up to 150 ft (45.7 m) with thin membrane between wrists and ankles
  • Average adult is 4-6 oz (113.4-170.1 gm), about 12 in (30.5 cm) long
  • Captive life span 12-14 years
  • Sexually mature by 9-12 months
  • Males have a scrotal sac located on the abdomen, where you would expect the belly button to sit; it looks like a little pom-pom. They also have a bifurcated (forked) penis. At maturity, intact males develop oily bald spots (scent glands) on their forehead and chest. Neutering prevents this.
  • Females have a “U”-shaped opening on the abdomen, where you would expect the belly button to sit. This opens into the pouch (marsupium) where the babies develop and contains two teats.

Behavior

  • Extremely social animals, best kept in groups of 2 or more
  • Solitary gliders require a lot of attention from their owners!
  • Prone to behavioral problems if housed alone
  • Best time to adopt/socialize is when joeys are 7-12 weeks out of pouch
  • Very vocal: “crabbing” when excited, “bark” or “chatter” for attention
  • Scent marking behavior allows recognition by group members
  • Intact males mark their cages with urine. Neutering reduces this tendency.
  • Breed readily in captivity

Diet

  • BML (recipe below) or commercial diet for insectivore/carnivore (e.g. cat food kibble)
  • Need fresh fruits and vegetables (NOT canned, dried, or trail mix) such as chopped apple, mango, grape, carrot, sweet potato, etc.
  • Heavily insectivorous – supply gut loaded crickets, mealworms, waxworms, moths
  • Require ~50% protein in diet supplied by insects, lean boiled chicken or turkey, scrambled egg, cottage cheese, yogurt
  • Fresh foods and insects can be dusted with mineral supplements such as Repcal or Herptivite, supplements such as Glideraide, Supreme blend, or Lory nectar may also be offered

Environment

  • Because of their social nature, pet gliders should always be kept in pairs or small groups. Fighting is rare; same- or mixed-gender groups are usually fine.
  • Require large cages (minimum 2 cubic feet, should be as large as possible)
  • Wire caging best with mesh size no larger than ½” to ¾”
  • Require non-toxic branches (manzanita, apple, citrus) for perching, chewing, exercise
  • Need pouches or nest boxes near the top of the enclosure for resting, hiding
  • Use aspen or paper bedding – avoid cedar and pine as these can cause respiratory problems
  • Environment should be draft free, 70-90°F (21.1-32.2°C), NOT placed in bright sunlight!
  • Keeping the cage/bedding very clean will help prevent odor and behavioral problems such as self-barbering and self-mutilation

Preventive Care

Consult a veterinarian with experience treating exotic pets if you have any questions or concerns about your sugar glider’s health.
  • Routine physical examination every 6 to 12 months
  • Annual fecal examination for parasites
  • Blood tests as recommended by your veterinarian
  • Neutering males prevents development of prominent scent glands
  • Toenails require regular trimming
  • No vaccines are required

Common Medical Disorders

  • Malnutrition and its consequences
  • Hind limb paralysis, tremors, rickets, cataracts, blindness
  • Stress-related diseases
  • Self-mutilation, pulling or chewing fur, pacing, eating disorders, cannibalism of young, abnormal aggression
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea
  • Internal parasites

Recommend daily diet for one sugar glider

  • 1 tablespoon BML
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fruits
  • 1 tablespoon chopped vegetables
  • 3-5 insects
  • Bourbon’s Modified Leadbeaters Mixture (BML)
  • ½ cup honey (do not use honeycomb, raw or unfiltered honey)
  • hard boiled or scrambled egg with the shell
  • ¼ cup apple juice (not frozen or for babies)
  • 1 (4 oz) bottle premixed Gerber juice with yogurt (mixed fruit or banana)
  • 1 teaspoon Rep-Cal Herptivite vitamin supplement
  • teaspoons Rep-Cal Calcium supplement (non-phosphorous with Vitamin D3)
  • (2 ½ oz) jars Stage 1 or 2 Heinz, Gerber, or Beechnut chicken baby food
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup dry baby cereal (Heinz or Gerber, mixed or oatmeal)
  • Blend the first three ingredients together until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze (1 cube is approximately 2 tablespoons). Good for 1 month.

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