Where Do I Get a Sugar Glider?
Last year the USDA lightened their requirements for USDA licensure. The old rules required that anyone breeding and selling Sugar Gliders must be licensed. The new rules allow up to three breeding females without licensure. In my opinion this has had a huge impact, not so much in the amount of Sugar Gliders being sold, but more the amount of Sugar Gliders being sold by unlicensed and many times inexperienced people that pass along misinformation.
Since Sugar Gliders are exotics that require time, attention, and high maintenance diet, many people are sold Sugar Gliders without being given proper information. Consequently, they do not realize what they are getting into and often times get rid of them shortly after.
Breeding Sugar Gliders properly will not likely bring a profit. Over time, the costs of proper diet, vet bills, bedding, toys and pouches will not usually be covered by the price of joeys. Most small scale breeders will not actually profit in the long run if they are taking care of the animals properly.
What about Sugar Glider Mills? There are such facilities breeding many hundreds of gliders in 1' x 1' cages without enrichment. These megabreeders cannot possibly keep track of each joey born, so they pull them by weight away from their parents. They do not have the manpower to personally hold and play with each and every breeding pair, so the joeys are usually held for the first time after they are pulled from their parents.
These exhibitors prey on impulse buyers. They attempt to put everything together in a neat, easy, ready-to-go package. You get the glider, cage, pellets, a pouch and a 10 or 15-minute discussion on care and they send the baby Sugar Glider and their new owners on their way.
How can you tell you are dealing with a reputable breeder? There are several ways to get a good idea. The least of which is whether they have a USDA license. While a USDA licensed breeder is a good start, even these "glider mills" pass the USDA standards. You want to find a USDA licensed breeder that exceeds the USDA requirements.
A good breeder should:
1. Show you the glider's habitat area. If they won't they may have something to hide.
2. Have reasonably clean cages. USDA requires they be cleaned every two weeks. The bottom line is that breeding Sugar Gliders have an odor, but it should smell musky, not rank and filthy. Food dishes and crocks should be clean. Water bottles should be full. There should not be old food sitting at the bottom of the cage.
3. Be able to handle joeys and parents without wearing gloves. If the breeder has to wear gloves to handle parents, they do not have a good relationship with their gliders. If they have to wear gloves to hold the joeys, they probably have not been handled. Sugar Glider joeys sometimes bite, but you should not require gloves to handle a joey that has been well handled.
4. Be able to convey proper information about diet. Do your research first. Know about diet and make sure the breeder is feeding the adults and joeys properly (you want healthy joeys).
5. Be able to give proper information about habitat, handling, bonding, vet information, emergency care, etc.
6. Do not pull joeys away from their parents before they are 8 weeks old.
7. Discuss the issues of one Sugar Glider or two. Sugar Gliders do better in pairs. Some people prefer to get one, bond with it then get the second, but Sugar Gliders do best in pairs and should convey this information.
8. Act in the Sugar Glider's best interest. If it looks like it's all about money, go elsewhere.
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