Is it a squirrel? Is it a bat? No, that’s just a sugar glider!
Sugar gliders are small exotic animals, commonly mistaken for rodents, but they’re actually more related to possums.
Sugar gliders are adorable social creatures, which is why a lot of people keep them as pets! They have a lot of odd anatomical features, which begs the question, do sugar gliders have pouches?
The answer is yes!
In this article, we’ll explain everything related to sugar gliders’ pouches, from their purpose to common pouch problems. Stick around.
Everything You Need to Know About Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals native to Australia, usually inhabiting rainforests. They’re social animals that usually thrive in groups of six to ten.
Sugar gliders get their name from their gliding membrane, which extends from their front legs to their hind legs. This gliding membrane allows them to glide up to 160 feet!
The social nature of sugar gliders is what makes them the greatest companions! Unlike a lot of exotic animals, they live in nature in groups, or colonies, of up to seven adult sugar gliders.
That being said, sugar gliders are incredibly popular pocket pets. They can be illegal to keep depending on your region, though. Even if you decide to keep a sugar glider as a pet, you’ll probably need a permit to do so.
Do Sugar Gliders Have Pouches?
Sugar gliders are part of the marsupial family. You probably know another animal in that family; the kangaroo! A trait they both have in common is their pouches.
Sugar gliders’ pouches are found on their abdomen, usually in the same location where our belly button would be.
A great way to determine the sex of a sugar glider is through these pouches! Only female sugar gliders have pouches, whereas males have other characteristics including a frontal scent gland present on their forehead.
The usual misconception is that the pouches open much like a pocket. However, a sugar glider’s pouch is a small circular hole about ½ inch wide. It stretches, allowing the baby sugar glider, also known as a joey, to enter securely.
What Is the Purpose of Sugar Gliders’ Pouches?
Female sugar gliders usually give birth to a litter of one or two joeys after approximately 15 days of gestation. This happens three times per year.
The pouch is crucial during the first weeks of a joey’s life. After birth, the tiny joey immediately crawls into the pouch where they remain for about 70 days.
The pouch provides a warm and safe haven that keeps the blind, naked, newborn joey warm and nurtured.
The female sugar glider’s teat is also present inside its pouch, allowing the joey to nurse at all four different life stages.
Pouches, like any other body cervix, can get infected. Not only that, but sugar gliders can also develop mastitis inside the pouch. The symptoms of both are almost indistinguishable.
Pouch Infection and Mastitis
The first thing you’ll notice is a smelly discharge from the pouch. The joey will stop nursing as mastitis blocks the milk flow.
Even if the teat isn’t infected, joeys will avoid an infected pouch. This will lead to extreme weight loss, dehydration, and even sepsis in the small nursing joeys.
Once a sugar glider is infected, it’ll need to be examined by a specialized exotic vet. You won’t even be able to touch the pouch yourself as the mother will most likely be very protective of it.
In addition, mastitis will make the teat hard and swollen. Teats are hard to see without unfolding the pouch; this is a painful process requiring a vet.
Regular cleaning of the pouch will help alleviate the symptoms and speed up the treatment process. Cleaning should be done by gently dapping a cotton swab loaded with an antiseptic solution in the pouch.
The sugar glider may experience some pain. So, the vet will prescribe pain medication for it.
It’s crucial to take extra care of the joeys at this point. They’ll need to be hand-fed and take medication for the same infection to avoid sepsis.
Another problem you may notice with your sugar glider is pouch prolapse. This is when the pouch is basically inside out. It’ll be inverted with the pink, fleshy part visible on the outside.
An inverted pouch can happen due to excess grooming, or naturally during the weaning process. It’ll heal back to its original place by itself. If it persists for longer than a few days, contact your exotic vet.
Caring for a Sugar Glider
Adult sugar gliders love being carried in a pouch. After all, it’s how they felt safe as babies.
If you have a sugar glider as a pet, you can carry them around in your shirt. You can even get a special sugar glider pouch that will surely keep your little companion happy!
Your furry friend can stay in its pouch for 10-12 hours! So, free up your schedule, relax, and take some time to bond with your little pet.
When carrying your sugar glider around with you, add a small piece of fruit like an apple. This will keep them properly hydrated for long time periods.
Carrying your sugar glider around isn’t only good for bonding, it’ll also keep the sugar glider warm, especially if it’s still young.
The sugar glider’s cage should also contain a pouch or at least some cloth, so they can keep warm, safe, and comfortable.
You should be keeping the cage warm for the sugar glider by using a heater, or covering it at night to help trap the heat. Make sure you use breathable, safe fabric to avoid harming your furry friend.
Sugar gliders are among the most endearing animals. They stand out due to their unique physical and social characteristics.
One of these physical characteristics includes pouches. Female sugar gliders carry their litter in this pouch for months longer than the gestation period!
The sugar gliders’ pouch serves to provide the young with safety and warmth. However, adult sugar gliders also love to hang around, and even be carried in pouches!
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.