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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If you are interested in owning a sugar glider, then you would know that they are incredible animals. Despite being as small as they are, their average lifespan can breach a decade, making them wonderful companions for any family.
Their most well-known trait, aside from the fact that they can “glide” is the fact that they will bond intensely with their owners as long as there is enough interaction between you and the sugar glider.
However, when you are looking at any animal as a pet, you need to consider more than if you would get along with the pet’s personality. For instance, you need to consider how much of a mess the pet could make in your home.
Sugar gliders, being exotic pets, can be hard to get information about, and most people don’t want to adopt an animal that they do not know what to expect from.
Because of this, if you are interested in adopting a sugar glider as your next pet, you will want to do a fair amount of research on how owning a sugar glider would impact your home environment.
The biggest question that people may have is whether or not sugar gliders are messy animals. After all, they are quite similar to rodents, which tend to be somewhat messy, so by comparison sugar gliders should be messy too, right?
This isn’t necessarily the case.
First of all, sugar gliders are marsupials and not rodents. They aren’t directly comparable to rodent pets such as mice and rats, so it can be hard to determine how much of a mess they would be off that alone.
Additionally, a sugar glider’s habitat is vastly different from a rat’s, meaning that the amount of “mess” there is to look after is going to be different.
To get a good understanding of exactly how messy a sugar glider is going to be to know what type of home habitat you are going to need to set up for it. From here, you will have a good sense of what kind of environment you will be looking after, so you can begin to gauge the degree of “mess” you will be dealing with from there.
Housing a Sugar Glider
To begin with, the behavior of a sugar glider is not unlike that of a squirrel. That is to say that sugar gliders enjoy climbing, so when you are looking for a cage for them, you will want to make sure that it has a fair amount of height to it so that you can best replicate the forests that they would naturally reside in.
As a rule of thumb, the minimum size enclosure you purchase for your sugar glider needs to be 24 inches in both length and width and 36 inches in height. Already, this goes to show that you are going to have a fair amount of space that will need to be cleaned.
Sugar gliders are also going to need bedding within their enclosure, meaning that you are going to need to invest in a fair amount of bedding to cover the different layers of the enclosure. When you factor in the fact that you are going to have to change this out regularly, this adds quite a bit to the mess that owning a sugar glider entails.
Typically, for bedding, sugar gliders do best with wood shavings, shredded paper (plain preferred), and so on. These bedding types absorb the droppings of sugar gliders best as well as any dropped fruit that may fall from their food bowls (which should be housed at the top levels, as they enjoy eating from a height).
No matter what type of bedding you choose, it should be nontoxic as sugar gliders may try to eat it out of curiosity.
Here comes one of the big kickers in the aspect of how much of a mess sugar gliders are. They cannot be litter trained. This means that you cannot try and focus all of your sugar glider’s droppings into one location that can be routinely dumped allowing for the bedding to be changed on a less frequent basis.
Instead, you will have to replace all of the bedding quite regularly if you want to ensure that the habitat for them remains clean and the smell remains minimal.
Another major aspect about how messy sugar gliders tend to be is the fact that they enjoy eating from heights, but they also can be somewhat clumsy. This combination of traits will lead to a lot of dropped food that will need to be cleaned up.
Because sugar gliders eat a fair amount of sweet fruits, dropped and forgotten food will quickly rot and attract flies. The one upside to this is that because they cannot be litter trained, you will already be cleaning up the bedding regularly, so any dropped food will be taken care of through this.
Sugar gliders, just like with any other pet, love having décor that resembles their home environment. This will mean that you will want to add some climbing branches in its enclosure, and depending on what you choose, you may want to go for an authentic branch with bark on it.
The problem with this is that sugar gliders are mischievous creatures and will strip the branches of their bark for fun. This adds to the mess that you have to clean up.
When all is said and done, there are a lot of factors that contribute to a messy enclosure environment, but the truth is that the animals themselves are actually quite clean. They groom regularly and if you have multiple, they will groom each other.
When having the sugar glider outside of the enclosure, you will need to be mindful of the fact that they cannot be litter trained, but aside from this, the messes that they make are quite localized.
This means that although there is a considerable amount of mess, it will all be in one place: the floors (if you have floor levels inside the enclosure) of their home. This means that when it does come time to clean up after it, you will only have to clean up one area and you will be done. This can be taken care of pretty easily.
Minimizing the Mess
Because there are a lot of factors that add to the amount of mess you will have to clean up for your sugar gliders, you may want to try and minimize the mess you have. One of the best ways you can do this is going to be through having as few floor levels as possible in the enclosure.
While this may make the enclosure less entertaining and interesting for the gliders to explore, it will mean that all of their mess will fall to the floor of the enclosure.
From here, you can have a removable cover for the floor of the enclosure to further make cleaning up after these animals easier. This means that when it comes time to clean up after your sugar gliders, all you will have to do is remove the cover, bagging all of the floor’s droppings inside of it, throw out those droppings and used bedding, wash the cover, and then add it back to the enclosure. This means that while sugar gliders are somewhat messy, their mess is easy to clean up.
You can further minimize the amount of mess to deal with by taking them out of their enclosure as little as possible. Of course, this will not be good for how well you can bond with the glider and it may become lonely without having more physical contact with you, but it will prevent unwanted eliminations from getting anywhere outside of the enclosure.
How much you want to border that line of minimizing a glider’s mess is completely up to you.