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Sugar Glider Joeys & Stages of Life Cycle

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Mating

  • Sugar Gliders are sexually mature at 12-14 months of age.
  • Some may reach sexual maturity at around 8 months of age. 
  • Sugar Gliders breed year round and will mate often.
  • Sugar gliders will often mate in the open.
  • When a female is in heat, the male will mount the female's back and groom her neck.
  • Sometimes, if a male is too rough, it could result in a mating wound.
  • After mounting the female, the male will insert his penis into the cloaca of the female.
  • The male sugar glider will hold on to the female sugar glider’s back with his front feet to keep her from moving during mating.

Birth

  • Sugar Gliders can have two or three litters a year and a litter usually produces one or two babies.
  • The female will begin birth by licking a trail from her cloaca to the pouch.
  • After approximately sixteen days, the female will give birth.
  • The male may assist her or show interest in the birth.
  • The joey will emerge from the cloaca and crawl to the pouch.
  • A newborn joey is about the size of a grain of rice.
  • Once the joey reaches the pouch, it will crawl inside and attach to one of four nipples inside the mother's pouch. It will remain in her pouch for the next sixty to seventy-five days.
  • Gestation takes about 15 to 17 days.
  • After the female gives birth, the extremely tiny babies will climb to the mother’s pouch. It takes about two weeks for the baby to be noticeable in the pouch.
  • The baby will come out of the pouch in about 6 weeks.
  • Female gliders have a pouch on their stomachs and males will have a small furred scrotum. Males will also have a visible diamond shaped bald spot on the top of their heads. This is a scent gland and absent in the female gliders.
  • Gestation will occur for approximately sixteen days.
  • Most sugar gliders will give birth during daylight hours
  • The mother will begin by licking a wet path from her cloaca to her pouch.
  • By matting down the fur, she makes it easier for the joey to find its way to her pouch and avoid becoming entangled in her fur.
  • One or two joeys are most common, but they can have up to four joeys at a time.
  • Once in her pouch, the newborn joey will find and attach to one of her four nipples.
  • Once the joey has attached to the nipple, it will begin to swell inside the baby's mouth.
  • Its jaw will remain locked on the nipple for the next eight to nine weeks.
  • Should the joey come off prematurely, it will likely die.
  • The baby's jaw is not developed enough to open and latch back on the nipple.
  • The entire birthing process will take about five minutes.
  • Very few are lucky enough to see a sugar glider give birth.
  • Joeys are usually born in “litters” consisting of 1 or 2 babies. 
  • When baby Sugar Gliders (Joeys) are born, they are about the size of a grain of rice.
  • Upon giving birth, the baby will crawl into the pouch and attach itself to one of the mother’s 4 nipples.

If you did not see the birth, there are a few signs that she has a joey on the way, such as:

  • You may see the trail she licked from the cloaca to her pouch (sometimes called a "licky trail")
  • The female may clean her pouch more than usual
  • She may become a bit more "pouch protective" of her nest or sleeping quarters
  • She may become grumpy or irritable
  • Her pouch could be a little puffy or fuller looking

Stages of Life

  • After the female gives birth, the extremely tiny babies will climb to the mother’s pouch for about 6 weeks. It takes about two weeks for the baby to be noticeable in the pouch.
  • They will remain in the pouch and attached to the nipple for about 8-10 weeks.
  • The baby will come out of the pouch in about 6 weeks.
  • They will be ready to wean when their eyes have been open for 3-4 weeks and will then be ready to move to their own cage away from their parents.
  • Once the Joeys begin exploring outside the pouch, it will usually be another 6-8 weeks before they are fully-weaned and ready to leave their parents. 
  • It’s impossible to judge their age by their weight. With human infants, newborns can range from a couple pounds –to 12lbs or more. Joeys are the same way – and can often weigh 3-4 times as much as other babies their same age.


IP (In- Pouch)

  • Weeks 1-6: Joey will be in pouch attached to nipple. Around Week 2 you may be able to start seeing the joey. Around Week 4 you will definitely be able to see the joey. 
  • Weeks 6-8: Joey may explore outside of the pouch, but will still remain in the pouch the majority of the time.
  • Weeks 8-10: Joey will be coming OOP.


OOP (Out-of-Pouch)

  • Weeks 1-2: Joey will no longer be able to fit inside the pouch. Joey will be holding onto its parents backs. Make note of this OOP date, because that is what most owners consider the birth date. If you are unsure when the first time the joey came out of the pouch was, you can count back 10 days from when the joey opens its eyes. 
  • Weeks 2-4: Joey will be holding onto its parents backs. You may handle joey for short periods of time but it will most likely cry to be put back with moth.
  • Weeks 4-6: Joey will not always be holding onto its parents backs. You may see the joey visit the food stations and taste the foods available, mother’s milk will still be main food source.
  • Weeks 6-8: Joey will be holding onto its parents backs less and less. Food stations will be main food source, mother’s milk will be drank less and less.
  • Weeks 8-10: Around this time, the joey will be weaned and independent. Should be weighing 27-37g. It must be eating solid food, no longer suckling on mom, and be able to eliminate waste without being stimulated. Note: If you are getting a sugar glider from a breeder it should not be younger than 12 Weeks OOP. Weeks 8-12 the sugar glider should be held for a minimum of one hour per day out of view of the parents to help with social weaning and ensure social-emotional readiness.

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