Sugar Glider Care
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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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