Basic Sugar Glider Information
SUGAR GLIDERS IN CAPTIVITY - By Ken Korecky
Sugar Gliders (Petauridae Breviceps) began to gain popularity in the United States as pets in 1994 when they were imported from Indonesia and New Guinea. The original animals offered for sale in this country were wild caught and far from being tame. They had a darker color than the domestically raised babies familiar to most of us. The sap of acacia trees that sugar gliders consume in the wild caused this darker color. Most Sugar Gliders offered for sale these days are domestically raised babies, gray in color and much tamer than their wild-caught counterparts.
Sugar Gliders are tree dwelling marsupials, this is the order of animals that carry their babies in pouches. They reproduce at about 7-9 months of age and mothers have from one to two babies at a time. Sugar Gliders are very easily bred in captivity, the gestation period is 16 days at which time the baby glider(s) crawl to the mothers pouch and attach themselves to a nipple. This is where the baby(s) stay for the next 8 weeks until they are ready to be weaned. Most Sugar Glider breeders keep one male to every two females in a breeding cage. You should be able to see a bulge in the mothers pouch if she is carrying young. Be very gentle when you check your female gliders for babies so you do not dislodge them from the nipple. We have found the easiest way to determine the sex of a Sugar Glider is to look for a pouch opening on the glider's abdomen. If your glider is a female, she will have a ½” opening (pouch) on her belly, if there is no opening, the glider is a male.
When breeding Sugar Gliders it is recommended to increase their protein intake. Most Sugar Glider diets have a recommended protein of 25% to 30%. However, it has been determined that a higher protein content is beneficial not only for breeders and babies, but for all age Sugar Gliders. The recommended amount of protein content in your Sugar Glider's diet should come close to 40%-45% especially if they are young or you are going to breed them. Sugar Gliders feed on fruits, insects, eucalyptus sap, nectar and invertebrates in the wild. In captivity we recommend a high quality pelleted diet such as, Exotic Nutritions' Glider Complete or Premium Sugar Glider Diet (with fresh fruits and vegetables three times a week). If you feed foods other than a nutritionally complete pellet diet, then you should supplement with Gliderade nectar supplement, Glider Booster vitamin and mineral supplement and Glider-Cal calcium supplement. If your Sugar Gliders are fed a nutritionally complete pellet diet, supplements are optional because the pellet diet already contains the necessary nutrition, but if your Sugar Glider is fed a variety of foods along with the pellet diet, it is necessary to supplement.
First, if a Sugar Glider arrives to you in a box it may be ‘growling’ when you open the crate it comes in. This is a completely natural sound that all Sugar Gliders make when frightened, he will settle down and quiet down in a day or so. Be patient and your glider will respond. Provide a warm quiet place for your Sugar Glider to get used to his new surroundings. Offer some Gliderade and a few raisins or a piece of apple with honey on it the first night. If this is a baby glider, put a bowl of Baby Premium Sugar Glider Diet or Berries and Bugs diet in his cage. Provide a warm Glider Nest Pouch for your new sugar glider. They love hanging pouches and will immediately go in it and make a nest.
The second day that the glider is home with you, take him out of the cage and start the bonding process. Sugar Gliders are known to ‘bond’ with their owners, if you keep your glider with you, either in a shirt pocket or in a Glider Carry Pouch they will bond to you in a matter of a week or so. Adult gliders that need retraining can be put through the same ‘bonding’ process with excellent success. Check to make sure your glider is eating and drinking (fresh water daily). I prefer a small open water dish rather than a water bottle. Take notice that your glider is active. Sugar Gliders are known to become very lethargic when their sugar intake is below normal. This happens more often when a glider is exposed to stressful conditions. If your glider shows signs of lethargy try to get some Gliderade and/or honey into him. Consult the breeder if possible and keep it warm and quiet. Most gliders come out of this state in a matter of a day or so if they get some carbohydrates into their system.
If you start your glider on the baby formula, introduce pelleted glider diet after a 4-week period and take a week or so to make the transition. Remember to keep a supply of Sugar Glider pellets available at all times for juvenile and adult gliders, and offer fresh fruits. Do not leave the fresh foods in the cage more than 12 hours or they will get rancid. Lastly, if you give your gliders treats, make sure they are low in fat; nuts are a Sugar Glider's favorite food but will put too much fat in his diet if given on a regular basis. Keep your gliders well fed with these recommended foods and they will live a long healthy life (up to 15 years).
Cages for Sugar Gliders come in a multitude of sizes. The recommended minimum size is 14” wide x 14” deep x 30” tall for a pair of Sugar Gliders. The bigger the better, just remember it may be more difficult removing your Sugar Glider from its cage if the cage is very large. All cages should have an open bottom and a layer of aspen bedding placed there. The cage must have a maximum wire spacing of ½”. As mentioned before, a hanging nest pouch is a must, many glider owners attach a hanging pouch on one end of the cage and a hanging basket on the other end to give your gliders a choice of sleeping areas. A climbing branch for your glider is also a welcome item along with ceramic feed and water dishes. The cage should be cleaned a minimum of once weekly. Remember, if at all possible purchase your Sugar Glider from a reliable source. If you purchase from a pet shop, have the owner keep the glider in his store for a few days for observation before you bring him home. Do not accept a Sugar Glider straight from the shipping carton if possible. Let the glider settle in at the store and begin feeding and drinking, then bring him to his new home. Nutrition is of utmost importance in the health and well being of a Sugar Glider. Provide the correct foods and cage to your Sugar Gliders, and they will bring you years of pleasure.
Looking for more information on Sugar Gliders? Browse our archive of articles:
Adding Another Glider to Your Household
Are Gliders Legal in My State?
Bonding With Your Sugar Glider
Common Nutritional Problems of Sugar Gliders
Dirty Secrets About Gliders' Food
Enriching Gliders' Lives
Exotic Nutrition Foods for Sugar Gliders
Feeding Baby Gliders
Feeding Mealworms to Gliders
Glider Health Issues
Healthy Treats and Chews
HPW (High Protein) Diet for Sugar Gliders
Introducing New Foods to Gliders
Proper Feeding of Gliders
Sugar Glider FAQs
Suggested Cage Requirements
Tips on Breeding Gliders
Veterinarian Database - Find a vet to care for your Sugar Glider
What to Feed Adult Sugar Gliders
Where Can I Get a Glider?
Why Toys are Important for Gliders