So you’re interested in getting a sugar glider?
Well you’ve come to the right place! This is a wonderful place to research if you’re entirely new to sugar gliders! Here you’ll find some of the basics, general information that’s good to know if you’re interested in adding some sugar gliders to your family. Also, it’s good to keep in mind our first two points; Sugar gliders can live up to 15 years and they’re colony animals so they do best in pairs or groups! These are two vital things to remember while researching suggies!
Please take the time to check this page out. There is a LOT to know before getting your first gliders!
They can live for 15 years or more.
Many people think they are similar to a hamster or mouse and only live a couple years.. this is the furthest thing from the truth. They’re actual marsupials, not rodents. They can live for 15 years and sometimes even longer with proper care and attention. This is important to keep in mind if you plan on moving a lot, having kids or going away to school.
They are colony animals and do best in pairs.
In the wild gliders are VERY social animals, they live in colonies and sleep together to keep warm. They vocalize with each other quite a bit in the form of clicks, hisses, chirps and little barks. They also groom each other, play together and so much more. While we can spend good deals of time with them we can’t provide them with the same level of companionship that another glider can. A lone glider can suffer from depression and actually begin to over groom, pulling out their fur or even start to chew on their tail, hands and feet. This can result in VERY costly vet bills or even passing, sadly.
Sugar Gliders are nocturnal!
We often see people asking why their glider sleeps all day and whether or not it means they might be ill. Actually, sugar gliders are nocturnal animals. Most sugar gliders don’t wake up until late in the evening and usually stay up until late morning. This is difficult for many people as some are students or work early in the morning. With a LOT of time and patience they MAY adapt a bit to your schedule but I’d initially plan on having to be up in the evenings or very early mornings. Each glider is very different, though, and follows their own schedule, usually.
They WILL potty ON you.
Some people will tell you that you can train them but that’s really not true. If you give them a few moments after waking up/coming out of their pouch they will typically go RIGHT away! Then they’ll be good to go for a few hours, normally.. But if they need to go again, they will not hesitate to go ON you.. (Also, if they get spooked/scared they will sometimes potty on you too! Really, just plan to have some kleenex at all times!) On your arm, your head, your pants, your couch, really, ANYWHERE. Most owners just keep tissues with them and prepare for this, it isn’t something you can break them of. It’s part of being a glider parent. Also, gliders, especially males, will mark you. Males will use their scent glands to rub on you a bit to mark you as theirs and they will also leave a few little drops of pee on you once in a while. So if you smell foreign to them or unusual they may do this to make you smell ‘normal’ again!
They are not good pets for children.
They don’t do well with small children because they are very fast and fragile. Typically they like to explore and move around, they won’t normally sit still and enjoy being coddled by a child. Also they can be spooked and will bite if they feel it’s necessary. Don’t let anyone tell you they won’t. They have teeth and CAN bite! This often scares kids and causes them to squeeze, drop them or throw them. That could easily be the end of a sugar gliders life, unfortunately. Typically they’re best as adult pets or family pets where the adults/parents take most of the responsibility.
They require a special diet.
You can’t simply buy pellets or a bag of feed at the store for these little guys. They’re sap suckers by nature so they need a specialized diet. Most people buy one or two ingredients online, depending on the specific diet, and spend about 5-10 minutes a day making their gliders food. Some people spend a little longer and then freeze it and you’re good to go for a month. So once you get the hang of it it’s VERY simple to do! Many suffer from internal problems due to pellets, some from liver failure, etc. They don’t live nearly half the long life of 15 years that they should. So if someone tells you they can live off apples and a bag of pellets don’t fall for it!
They need a large cage with room to climb.
Sugar gliders are just that.. gliders! They’re tree dwellers. They enjoy climbing up high and gliding from place to place. That said, it’s best to keep them in cages at least 2ft x 2ft x 3ft, height is always most important. Many people have cages that are 3ft(wide) x 2ft(deep) x 6ft(high), so by no means is 2x2x3 the max, many people go above and beyond.. there really isn’t a ‘too big’ for gliders. So plan on having a good deal of space dedicated to them. They can’t be kept in small bird cages or tanks.
Sugar Gliders are self-grooming and don’t need to be bathed.
Sugar gliders do not need baths! Suggies are actually self grooming. In some instances they may need some help, if they get especially messy. (Perhaps someone fell into a messy food, for example.) You can get a warm damp cloth and wipe them down gently and keep them warm, against your body, until they fully dry off. Sugar gliders can get sick or even get infections from being submersed. For this reason you should never submerge them in water and always keep your toilet lids closed, too! (Checkthis page out for tips on suggie-proofing and an item every toilet in a suggie home should have!) While suggies do groom themselves they have trouble getting to ‘all the good places’ so to speak without a buddy, this is one of many reasons suggies need to be kept in pairs or small colonies.
A single glider can cost anywhere from $150 to $4000.
Yes, you read that right! Some people expect sugar gliders to be relatively cheap, after all, hamsters are as cheap as ten dollars or so, right? Not only are sugar gliders an exotic animal but they also live upwards of 15 years. They’re still rather rare compared to cats, dogs or your average hamster, so the demand is higher and thus the cost is too. You can expect to pay around $150-200 each or about $300 for two classic gray(the normal color) baby sugar gliders. This is from a good breeder, the joeys should have lineage as well. (Lineage is a family tree, seeing this lets you know the joeys aren’t inbred and are from good lines.) Some gliders can cost anywhere from $300 to $4000 each, realistically. This is because some of the different color varieties are still much more rare and take a lot of work to produce. Your basic classic gray glider can go for more money, too, depending on what lines they are from. If they have potential to produce specific color babies when bred they will have a higher price tag, so to speak. You can find joeys as low as $50 each, but you get what you pay for! These joeys are often inbred, very unfriendly and potentially sick as well. Some places sell a single glider for $300-500 as well, but unless that glider has lineage SOMETHING is wrong! Pocket Pets(a mill broker) charges that simply because they make people believe they can’t buy a glider anywhere else, so it’s a con essentially. Pet stores do the same thing, and their gliders are also usually unlineaged. Basically, unless the glider is lineaged, never pay that much for a classic gray, likely someone is just trying to get more money out of you.
Realistically you should plan to spend at least $1000 on start up supplies!
Some people don’t realize how much is involved with keeping sugar gliders. The biggest item, aside from your gliders, will be the cage. They need a large one, usually a bird cage with smaller bar openings. These can easily run anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on how big you go and how sturdy it is. It’s also good to have a small cage for emergencies or travel, you can find these used as low as $20 or $30. You’ll also need a cageset(the pouches for sleeping and hammocks, etc.) and these run anywhere from $30 to $80 or more depending on how many pieces. Then add $40 for a glider-safe wheel(they can not use pet store ones, they cause injuries in marsupials!) more money for the dishes, water bottle, litter(carefresh to go in the cage pan), toys, diet supplies, and much more. Really, the prices add up pretty quickly, this is why we suggest that it’s best to wait, save up a bit and buy the supplies before the suggies so you’ll be sure you have everything you need ready to go. For more information on exactly what you’ll need check out theBefore You Adopt page for a checklist.
They can’t be left alone for days on end.
They need to be fed fresh food nightly so you can’t easily leave them alone for long periods. Being a bit busy and not being able to take them out for playtime as often is one thing.. but many people plan to leave and go on vacation for days, weeks, sometimes even months.. Gliders need fresh fruit each night so you can’t easily up and go. It’s best to have a babysitter or family member to come and take care of them while you’re away.
Vet bills can be costly.
Some people say they ‘never need vet care’ but it’s far from true! While gliders don’t need the typical shots or vaccinations that other household pets do it is still best to take them in for yearly exams and fecals. Also, if they do somehow get an injury or illness it could cost hundreds. Gliders are considered ‘exotics’ so their vet bills can be quite pricey. A simple neuter can range from 50 dollars to 400 dollars depending on what part of the country you are in. It’s best to have a 24 hour vet too since they’re nocturnal and if a mishap does occur it may be in the middle of the night.
They have sharp nails that need to be trimmed.
Many people have a sort of allergic reaction to sugar gliders climbing on them.. this is typically because their nails are very sharp and will kind of poke in to cling to you. You can fix this by clipping them gently with a small or baby size nail clippers. But without regular clipping they can scratch a bit like a kitten might. They can’t ‘sheathe’ their nails so they’re always out and being used to climb. Some sites sell ‘trimming’ tracks for wheels but honestly.. they still need an occasional clipping. That’s more for MAINTAINING them once they’re clipped. Definitely don’t plan on relying on a wheel to trim your gliders nails!
They are marsupials, not rodents!
Sugar gliders are actually marsupials, not rodents! The two main points with this are that their young spends most of it’s time growing in the mother’s pouch and that sugar gliders NEVER need their teeth trimmed. They do not continually grow like a hamster’s teeth. They enjoy chewing on some items because they peel bark in nature to get to sap and bugs, but they do not EVER need to be trimmed. Some vets that are not knowledgable on gliders may offer this service, DO NOT ACCEPT IT! They will NEVER grow back and it will cause your glider a great deal of pain.