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How to Care for Sugar Gliders (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Care for Sugar Gliders (Beginner’s Guide)

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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Sugar gliders are super cute pets that many people adore. They’re starting to become more popular, but they’re still not common pets.

There are even states in the US that have made it illegal to own sugar gliders. Some countries such as Australia have banned them as well.

So you can see why most people don’t know a ton about these adorable animals. If it’s legal to own sugar gliders in your area, you might be interested in caring for them.

Before you buy them, it’s important to learn about their care needs. You want to be able to take care of them to the best of your ability.

Below, you’ll learn all about what it takes to care for sugar gliders. You’ll get answers to many important questions so that you can proceed with confidence.

Are Sugar Gliders Hard to Take Care Of?

If you’re looking for pets that are very simple to care for, sugar gliders might not be right for you. That isn’t to say that sugar gliders are so hard to take care of that beginners need to shy away from them.

Sugar gliders can be a lot of work. You need to give them attention, and you have to spend time bonding with them.

Also, there are some challenges when it comes to keeping these pets in your home. You must have enough space for a cage, and you need to figure out how to play with them properly.

Feeding sugar gliders is a bit more complicated than feeding cats or dogs, too. You’ll learn more about these specific issues later.

Don’t let this deter you from buying sugar gliders if you’re truly interested, though. They can be very rewarding to care for.

It’s simply important to understand the responsibility of sugar glider ownership. Once you understand the care requirements properly, you can decide if these pets will be a good fit for you.

Sugar Gliders Need Large Cages

You need to make sure that you have enough room for a large cage when you want to keep sugar gliders in your home. Sugar glider cages need to be fairly wide and tall.

This is because these animals like to have room to move around and play. A good sugar glider cage should allow these pets to glide a little bit.

They’ll also like being able to climb around and have fun. A small cage simply won’t do, and the sugar gliders will get rather stressed if you try to put them in a cage that’s too tiny.

The minimum cage size is 24 x 36. This will give the sugar gliders enough room to exercise while also being spacious enough to fit a food dish and nesting locations.

Sugar gliders like to sleep during the day, and they need little hiding spots. So you have to put nesting boxes or other types of shelters in the cage.

Measure the rooms in your home to make sure that you can accommodate a cage that is at least 24 x 36. If you have enough room, you can buy sugar gliders with confidence.

Note that buying an even larger cage would be better. The 24 x 36 cage should be good for two sugar gliders, but you’ll want a larger cage if you plan to keep more of them.

How to Feed Sugar Gliders

Feeding sugar gliders isn’t too tough, but you must feed them the right things. It isn’t the same as feeding dogs or cats.

Dogs and cats simply eat pet food that you buy from the store. A sugar glider’s nutritional requirements are somewhat more complicated.

These animals are omnivores that eat many things in the wild. You’ll find wild sugar gliders snacking on things such as insects, eucalyptus leaves, fruit, and more.

They need to get enough protein, calcium, and vitamins in their food. You can buy special sugar glider supplements and food from pet stores, but you still need to give sugar gliders other types of food.

Many experts say that you want the sugar glider’s diet to consist of 50% protein, 25% fruit, and 25% veggies. For protein, you can feed the sugar gliders live insects such as crickets and mealworms.

You can feed your sugar gliders many different types of fruits and veggies. They love eating kale, spinach, bananas, apples, papaya, carrots, broccoli, and more.

To ensure that your pets get enough calcium, you can feed them plain nonfat yogurt. Papaya is another good source of calcium.

It’s generally wise to mix things up and feed your gliders a variety of different foods. This ensures that they don’t get bored, and it also helps them to get many different types of nutrients.

Most sugar glider owners feed their pets twice per day. You can give your gliders a small meal in the morning and then a larger dinner in the evening.

Never feed your sugar gliders too much food. They’re only supposed to eat around 10% of their body weight each day.

Always remember to wash fruits and veggies before giving them to the gliders. You’re also supposed to remove pits, seeds, and stems to ensure that the gliders don’t choke.

Sugar gliders need to be given access to water. They don’t drink a lot, but they should always have fresh water in their water bottles.

Using distilled water or filtered water is recommended. Follow this advice, and your sugar gliders should stay in good health.

Can Sugar Gliders Be Kept Alone?

No, you’re not supposed to keep sugar gliders alone. Doing so could be dangerous for the gliders.

You see, sugar gliders are very social animals. In the wild, these animals live in colonies with their families.

There might be seventeen sugar gliders nesting together in one location. They’re used to interacting with others of their kind.

Keeping sugar gliders alone as pets won’t turn out well. They will get very lonely, and this will lead to depression and stress.

It’s said that lonely sugar gliders might even wind up dying. If you give a lone sugar glider a lot of attention, there’s a chance that it might be okay, but it’s still not recommended.

The best thing to do is to keep at least two sugar gliders as pets. So when you go to buy these pets, remember that you’ll need two of them.

This will cost you a bit more cash, but it’s the right way to do things. You want to ensure that these pets have the best chance of survival under your care.

How to Introduce Sugar Gliders

If you adopt sugar gliders together, you won’t need to introduce them. Perhaps you made the mistake of only buying one glider, though.

You’ll then want to buy another one so that your current pet will have a friend. Introducing the gliders won’t be hard, but you will want to do things right.

A good approach is to set up a neutral space where the gliders can interact. For example, you could use a tabletop to allow the gliders to meet.

Set the sugar gliders on the table with their blankets. You don’t want to do this right away, though.

To begin, you should let the sugar gliders get used to each other’s scent. This is easy enough to achieve by using blankets.

Place blankets that have the other glider’s scent on them in the pouches that the gliders are using. This gives them some time to get used to things.

Some recommend rubbing the gliders with the blankets to transfer the scent. Eventually, you can move on and try to allow the gliders to directly smell each other.

It’s a good idea to try letting the gliders smell each other’s tails. You can hold the new glider and allow the old glider to smell the new glider’s tail.

Hopefully, there won’t be any biting or grabbing. If all goes well, let the new glider smell the old glider’s tail.

If the gliders don’t show signs of aggression, you can let them meet each other properly. Have the gliders in their pouches and open them slightly.

Let the gliders decide to come out and meet each other on their own. They might make sounds and grab each other a little bit, but this is completely normal.

If one of the gliders bites the other, you should separate them immediately. Sometimes it can take a while for sugar gliders to become comfortable with each other.

Juvenile sugar gliders seem to be easier to deal with. They accept each other faster than two adult sugar gliders that are being introduced.

How to Handle Sugar Gliders

Handling sugar gliders is something that you can have a lot of fun with. Sugar gliders do like to be held, and they even enjoy being cuddled.

However, it takes sugar gliders a while to open up to their owners. When you first buy sugar gliders, you’ll have to spend time bonding with them.

You’ll learn about the bonding process in the next section. For now, you want to know how to hold these animals properly.

It’s good to allow the sugar glider to climb onto your hand. You can hold your hand with your palm up in the cage.

The sugar glider can be guided toward your hand using your other hand. Then you can give the glider a treat once it’s in your hand.

These animals like to crawl and climb on their owners. You can also hold them in their pouches and carry them around.

How to Bond with Sugar Gliders

Bonding with sugar gliders is going to take a bit of time. When you first buy sugar gliders, they’re not going to completely trust you.

It’s common for sugar gliders to bite their owners at first. So you should probably avoid trying to hold them until you’ve bonded with them a bit.

Bonding isn’t that tough. You simply need to spend time with the gliders and treat them well.

One good way to bond with the gliders involves feeding them. Simply feed the gliders and give them treats from time to time.

You don’t want to overfeed the pets, but it is a good way to get them to trust you. Another good thing to do is to allow the sugar gliders to get used to your scent.

Place a towel or blanket that has your scent on it in the cage with the sugar gliders. This will allow them to get used to your scent even when you’re not around.

You can also buy bonding pouches that you can use to bond with the gliders. Put one glider in a bonding pouch and then carry it around with you while you’re doing things around the house.

This is an excellent way to bond with the gliders while you’re doing chores. Once you’ve bonded with the gliders well, they’ll become very affectionate toward you.

You just have to put the work in to get to that point. So long as you spend time with the gliders and treat them with love and respect, it should be easy enough to achieve.

Do Sugar Glider Bites Hurt?

Since sugar gliders might bite you before they’ve bonded with you, it’s best not to handle them too much at first. You don’t have to worry too much about sugar glider bites, though.

These animals can hurt you a little when they bite you. However, they can’t seriously injure you.

It’s unlikely that sugar glider bites will break the skin. They can be painful, and they’ll often feel similar to a pinch.

When sugar gliders bond with you, they will only bite you if you do something wrong. If you scare a sugar glider, it might bite you defensively.

Sometimes sugar gliders will nibble their owners affectionately. This doesn’t hurt, but it might not feel pleasant either.

How to Bathe Sugar Gliders

Sometimes sugar gliders will get a bit stinky. This can be a problem, but you can solve it by giving your gliders a bath.

Bathing sugar gliders doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply start by filling a large bowl or a sink with warm water.

You want the water to be warm, but it shouldn’t be hot. It’ll be easier to clean the glider if you put it on an elevated surface in the bowl or sink.

Grab a bottle of baby shampoo and apply some of it to the sugar glider’s body. You want to rub the shampoo into the glider’s fur to clean it.

Once you’re done rubbing the baby shampoo on the glider, it’ll be time to rinse it off. Rinse the glider using warm water.

Be thorough when rinsing the glider so that no shampoo lingers. When the glider is rinsed properly, you can begin drying it using a dry cloth.

Note that most experts agree that sugar gliders don’t need to be bathed. Sugar gliders are capable of keeping themselves clean without needing to be bathed.

Regardless, it’s okay to bathe sugar gliders so long as you do so carefully. If you follow the advice above, it should be easy to bathe the gliders and keep them happy.

How to Clean the Cage

The sugar glider cage will get dirty if you don’t clean it. It’ll also start to smell pretty bad if you’re not proactive about cleaning.

You don’t need to do a deep cleaning of the cage too often. However, it is wise to wipe the cage down often.

Twice per week, you should use unscented baby wipes on the cage. This will help to keep the cage from smelling bad, and it should make it more sanitary as well.

If you don’t have unscented baby wipes, it’s fine to use a cloth and some dish soap. This should get things nice and clean for you.

You need to do larger cleaning sessions four times per year. So every three months, you’ll do a complete cage cleaning that will take more time.

The complete cage cleaning involves taking it outside and really scrubbing it down. You want to get all of the hard-to-reach spots to ensure that everything is as clean as can be.

Use a bucket of soapy water to scrub the cage. Rinse the cage off using water and then allow it to dry.

You should also clean and sterilize the various accessories. The food bowls, water bottles, toys, poop trays, and little plants all need to be sterilized and cleaned.

Replace Bedding Weekly

The bedding that you use for the sugar gliders won’t stay clean forever. It’s going to get pretty dirty, and you don’t want it to start smelling too bad.

The best course of action is to replace the bedding weekly. You can buy bedding materials from local pet stores.

Small animal bedding works well for these pets. You just want to remember to change it out often enough so that you don’t run into problems.

How to Play with Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders absolutely love to play. They need to get exercise, and it’s good for you to bond with them by playing.

Playing with sugar gliders is going to be easier if you set things up right. One good idea is to pay for a little tent that you can use for playtime.

Indoor tents can be set up so that the sugar gliders can roam freely. You can sit in the tent with the sugar gliders and interact with them.

They’ll love playing in the tent, and you won’t have to worry about them getting lost in the host. You’ll be able to see the glider climbing around, and it’ll likely glide a little bit inside the tent.

Gliders love gliding down onto their owners. It can be very fun to interact with them like this.

If you’d rather not use a tent, you can prepare a spare room in your home instead. You need to make sure that the room is sealed so the sugar glider won’t get lost.

This means covering vents, making sure there are no holes in the room, and ensuring that the sugar glider can’t get under any doors. For some, it’ll be far more practical to utilize the tent idea.

Sugar Gliders Are Nocturnal

Before you buy sugar gliders, it’s important to know that they’re nocturnal. These animals aren’t going to be all that active during the day.

During the daytime, sugar gliders like to sleep. They hide in their pouches or shelters inside their cages when the sun is out.

You should avoid interacting with the gliders too much during the day. It’s best to leave them alone and let them rest as they’re supposed to.

Once the evening has arrived, the sugar gliders will be much more active. When the sun goes down, you can pet your sugar gliders, hold them, play with them, and generally have fun together.

The only thing you’ll do for the gliders during the day is feeding them in the morning. This is to ensure that they don’t get too hungry waiting for their dinner in the evening.

How Long Do Sugar Gliders Live?

You might be wondering how long sugar gliders live as pets. This is good to know because you want to have an idea of how long you’ll be caring for your new cute and cuddly friends.

It’s common for sugar gliders to live between ten and twelve years as pets. This is assuming that you’re doing a good job taking care of them.

When you put in the effort to keep them safe and happy, they’ll live for quite some time. A sugar glider could just as easily die young if you don’t care for it right, though.

Wild sugar gliders don’t live quite as long on average. It’s said that wild sugar gliders usually only live for nine years.

Final Thoughts

Now you have a better idea of what it takes to care for sugar gliders. These pets require a fair bit of attention, and that means they might not be perfect for those who are very busy.

They can be a lot of fun to own, though. If you think sugar gliders sound like good pets, you can buy two of them and have a good time caring for them.

Follow the advice above and be sure to keep your gliders properly fed. You’ll be able to enjoy them for a long time if you do things right.

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