The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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When it comes to pets, there are many, many more animals beyond the traditional cat and dog that you can adopt. From countless kinds of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other aquatic animals to exotic animals that may be hard to obtain, there are quite literally hundreds of choices as to what your next pet could be.
For people who adore rodents and marsupials, one consideration might be the sugar glider. Sugar gliders are tiny, often about the size of your traditional pet rat, and they have a massive personality to make up for it.
One thing you will need to be mindful of is that sugar gliders are absolutely considered exotic animals, so before you set your sights on adopting one, you should do some research to make sure that you can house them, that you have a local vet who can care for them, and that your home and lifestyle will mesh well with their own.
Sugar gliders are not nearly as common as other animals, so some of this information may take a fair amount of research to get to, and due to this, sugar gliders should not be for novice pet owners who are not used to caring for a unique animal.
With that being said, if you have experience catering to an exotic pet’s needs, then sugar gliders can make absolutely remarkable companions.
Adopting the Sugar Glider
So, you have decided that you are planning to adopt the sugar glider. This decision should not be made lightly, as they will need a fair bit more care than your standard cat or dog.
Many people argue that they are about as easy to care for as cats, but they have a few caveats that you need to be extremely mindful of. For example, sugar gliders are extremely affectionate animals and without a companion (or you) around to keep it company, it may become so stressed out that it begins to self-mutilate.
What this means is that at its core, sugar gliders are easy to care for, you will need to read up on how to deal with their own unique traits, such as their need for some form of companionship.
It is often recommended that, unless you work from home and can be with the sugar glider for the majority of the day, you should adopt at least two so that your sugar glider can have a companion when you are not home.
Something else you need to be mindful of is that because sugar gliders are exotic animals, they are not legal in every area. Before you adopt, make sure that you are able to own a sugar glider where you live.
The Sugar Glider’s Personality
If there is one thing that sugar gliders are known for, it is the fact that they will bond intensely with their “family,” which often includes you. This makes them very endearing and affectionate creatures.
They are naturally very social animals, so bonding with them is generally as simple as spending time with them on a regular basis.
Bonding with a sugar glider can actually be an enjoyable process for the both of you, as one of the most common ways to help with bonding is to carry the sugar glider in a shirt pocket or an equivalent. From here, you can walk around your house with the sugar glider tagging along for a ride, which can be quite the adorable sight to see.
They tend to be quite the vocal animal as well, with a wide variety of chitters and chatters they will make to indicate their mood. They will have different tones to indicate being upset, frightened, hungry, and so on, meaning that with some practice, you will be able to understand the gist of what your sugar glider is trying to tell you.
On top of this, they often have a warning noise they make before resorting to biting, so once you learn this, you can easily avoid being bitten by a sugar glider.
As a whole, sugar gliders are prey animals. This means that they will very rarely resort to aggression in any form, as they are wired to prefer running away from a potential threat if they can. However, if they feel threatened and they feel cornered, they will bite, which is something to be mindful of.
As a summary, sugar gliders are playful, relatively intelligent, social, and affectionate animals. They are extremely friendly once they have bonded with you, and they can have a lasting relationship full of cuddling in your shirt pocket.
Just because they are friendly animals, though, does not mean they would be suitable for children as pets. There are a number of reasons for this.
Sugar Gliders and Children
Sugar gliders are small animals. They are naturally prey animals. They are somewhat high maintenance.
All of this together makes them not the best animal to leave in the responsibility of a small child. A small child may adore a sugar glider, and their friendly disposition can mesh wonderfully with a curious child who is excited to have an exotic pet.
But for reasons aside from temperament, sugar gliders should be a pet for families with older children, or if the younger children are heavily supervised while interacting with the sugar glider.
This is mostly because sugar gliders are extremely stress-prone animals. They are sensitive animals and there are many things that can be a trigger to these poor beings.
An example of this may be an environment that is too loud, or if a young child keeps pulling or prodding the glider. When a sugar glider becomes stressed, it will be prone to self-mutilation as well, which can become dangerous if it is left unchecked.
Sugar gliders are small creatures, and children may inadvertently harm them because of their small and relatively fragile bodies. Very young children may genuinely not realize just how fragile a sugar glider is, and when playing with the animal, may cause it harm.
For example, a young enough child may believe that since sugar gliders can “glide,” it would be able to glide to the floor without a problem, so the child may drop the glider. In reality, gliders require air currents to glide on and these may not be present in a household environment, leading to an unfortunate incident.
What this means for you and your potential sugar glider adoption is that, if you plan to adopt the sugar glider and you have younger children in your home, you should either rethink the adoption or you should make sure that the young children are supervised at all times when interacting with the sugar glider.
This is less due to issues with temperament, as sugar gliders are well known for being friendly and adoring animals, but more due to the fact that young children should not handle animals that are as small and fragile as the sugar gliders are.
You should ideally wait until the child is old enough to comprehend how small animals should be handled and how you should hold and interact with them before you bring a sugar glider into the family.
As long as this is the case, sugar gliders make incredibly friendly animals that will be lifelong adoring companions to you and your family for a decade to come.