We’re going to try to cover some of the most common and frequently asked questions in relation to sugar gliders. We see a lot of these either by e-mail or in the group so it seemed like a good idea to put them all in one spot. We’ll likely add to and expand on this page as we think of more questions that need to be added. If you would like to suggest anything specific please contact us!

Please take the time to check this page out. This may save you a little bit of time and researching!

Do they bite?

Yes, they definitely can bite. Any animal with teeth can bite you. That said, friendly and hand tame gliders typically don’t bite. On the other hand, you will very likely get nipped. Gliders often nip to either taste you, to see if you’re familiar, or to groom you. They may even scrape their teeth gently (or a little too enthusiastically) on your skin to groom you. Some have a tendency to pick at scabs, band-aids, jewelry. You name it.

They are very much like toddlers, often ‘tasting’ things or putting them in their mouth. Once friendly and bonded it is usually barely more than a gentle pinch or nibble. If frightened or untame, however, they can draw blood and in rare cases even cause infection.

Do I really need two or more?

We will never recommend housing a single glider by him or herself. The most common thing we hear from people who have recently done introductions is that they never knew how sad or depressed their glider had been until they first see them interact with a new glider. You really can not know how a happy glider behaves until you see them interact with their own kind.

We put together this post for people to share their experiences so other suggie parents could read for themselves.

The Experience of Adding a Second Glider

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.

Aren’t pellets enough?

Honestly, no. Sugar gliders are an exotic species, they need a more specialized diet. The pellet diets out there that are specifically for gliders are all full of low quality ingredients and items meant to be “fillers”. The intent is to fill their bellies cheaply and quickly. Some of these pellets and even some “vitamins” meant to sprinkle over them or other food actually contain MSG. ( Click here for more info on MSG. ) MSG is often used in buffets, it’s meant to bloat your stomach. To make you feel full, sometimes too full. This goes along with the concept of filling our animal’s bellies quickly and cheaply.

Gliders really do need a special diet mixture. Once you get the hang of it – it isn’t hard to do or costly to buy. We have a lot more details on this in the diet section of the website, please take a moment to check it out. Staple Diets. Pellets.

Can they bond to my dog/cat?

Unfortunately no. Sugar gliders are very small delicate animals, they often move fast and can trigger the prey instinct of other animals quite easily. Even if your cat or dog only wants to play they could still injure or even kill your glider. One paw batting at them too hard, one playful nip or bite from their mouth, each of these is normal for larger animals playing together but could be quite dangerous to such a small creature like a glider. Also, cat saliva is deadly for gliders, so this is another thing to be very careful about. (Also important to note, catnip is also toxic to gliders. So if you DO have cats it’s best to not leave any where a glider may get into it.) Gliders can also kill small animals like mice or rats, so they should never be kept with any other species, even if they are close to the same size.

Do I need a heat lamp/rock?

No, not at all. Most joeys that are sold with heatrocks have to have them because they are sold well before the typical ‘wean’ date(usually 8-12 weeks). Before they’re fully weaned they’re too small to regulate their own body temperature, which is fine when they have mom and dad to cuddle with in their pouch.. But when the broker/breeder takes them from the parents and sells them they have to send the heatrock along with so they don’t die from getting too cold. So long as your house is 70-85 degrees your gliders should be happy. If you worry about winter months you can put a fleece cage cover on their cage, get a small space heater for their room or put small fleece blankets INTO their pouches. NEVER put any sort of heating item IN their cage!

Can I start with a small cage?

Actually, age or size makes no difference in the environment a sugar glider needs. They require large flight-type cages, like for birds. The bar spacing can be no wide than one half inch apart but the cage needs to be at least three feet tall, preferably, with no less than two by two for the width and depth. Of course, bigger is better, I can’t stress this enough. Many people have six foot tall enclosures that are as much as four or five feet wide. Height is more vital than anything for a glider as they like to climb and jump. They won’t really use and don’t need ladders or shelves, tubes, etc. They can easily scale the cage walls from bottom to top and hop directly from one side to the other without any shelves or ladders to help them. They do like fleece hammocks to sit on occasionally, while snacking or grooming. Joeys will be just as active as adults, too, so it’s vital they have just as large of a cage as an adult would. It doesn’t matter how much time they spend with you outside the cage, either. They are nocturnal and will likely be awake and playing while you sleep, this is one of many reasons it is vital to have a large cage for them at all times.

Do they need to go to the vet?

Some breeders will tell you they do not need to, often these are either mills or backyard breeders. While it is true that sugar gliders do not need the shots and vaccinations that our common cats and dogs typically do it does NOT mean that they do not need a vet. In reality, it can be very difficult to find a good vet that will see sugar gliders as they aren’t as common as cats and dogs quite yet. Some will offer to ‘see’ them but sometimes end up harming or mistreating them due to lack of proper knowledge on the species. Because of this it’s best to inquire about their experience and how long they have been seeing gliders. You should seek one out before you bring home any gliders to be sure one is available in your area. It is also best to find a twenty-four hour emergency vet as many emergency situations can arise at night since gliders are nocturnal. Once you’ve found a vet it’s best to go in for a general wellness exam as soon as you bring them home. On top of that it’s good to have to vet run a fecal a couple of times a year to check for any parasites or other problems. Also, vet care for gliders CAN be more costly as they’re considered an exotic. For example, a neuter ranges anywhere from $60 to $500 depending on where in the country you are located.

Will dad mate with his daughter?

Yes, and this seems to be a rather common problem. Most people assume relations won’t breed eachother, but honestly most animals, especially gliders, do not care. In the wild they form colonies and have a large area to spread out and get away from one another. But in a normal enclosure they can not get away from eachother. This means dad will mate daughter and mother, son will mate mother and sister, and son and father may fight eachother for breeding rights over the female colony members. Usually only one intact male will ‘run’ a colony and breed all the females. For this reason it’s vital to neuter joeys (or dad if joeys are female) before the joeys reach 10-12 weeks of age, the earliest time they can physically become sexually mature. (However, it’s recommended to avoid breeding females until 10-12 months of age when they’re larger and better suited for raising offspring.)

Can I keep them in the same cage as my birds/guinea pig/etc?

Gliders should only be housed with other gliders. It might shock you to learn that gliders will actually attack and even eat other animals, but it happens. They will eat lizards, small rodents and even birds. There was an instance where a bird landed on the glider cage and ended up loosing one of it’s feet, unfortunately. Anything they won’t attempt to attack may attack them, for this reason it’s best to only ever house them with their own kind.

They’re just like rodents, right?

Actually, contrary to popular belief, they’re really marsupials! (The mothers carry their offspring in pouches!)

This is important to remember because some vets may assume they are rodents and offer or attempt to trim their teeth. Their teeth do NOT continue growing so it’s vital to make sure you never allow this to happen.

They can also live as long as 15 years! Much longer than your average rodent!

It’s only safe to adopt from a USDA breeder, right?

This is actually false. The USDA only requires you to be licensed if you have more than 4 breeding females. Many hobby breeders are not licensed, they often have just one or two breeding pairs. (It is important to remember to check your local laws, some states or counties do require a permit to breed AND sell.) In most states it’s entirely legal to breed and sell sugar gliders without a license or permit.

Can they use the run-about hamster balls?

Unfortunately these aren’t safe. The main problem is the little air holes/slats. They can catch nails or toes and cause serious damage. Someone has created a safe option though, check out the Runabout.

Should I use a leash or harness?

Unfortunately both of these items are bad. The leash can actually act as a noose, since they like to climb, jump and glide they can actually jump and snap their neck or strangle them. It just isn’t safe for such a small and active animal. The issue with the harness is that it cuts into their patagium on the sides of their body. These are the skin flaps that allow them to glide. Due to these it isn’t safe to put any sort of harness or clothing on a glider. It can permanently damage this sensitive skin and their ability to glide. If your glider is not tame enough to carry around without him or her running away – then don’t take them outside.

I found this vet on youtube. He’s good, right?

Sadly no, this man is actually paid by the company Pocket Pets. (A rather large and well known mill broker.) Because of their sponsorship he promotes their information, like recommending pellets for example. Most of the information he is promoting is inaccurate and sometimes even dangerous. Please don’t listen to anything he recommends. (His videos will look professional and since they do not allow comments without first meeting their approval it will seem like no one disagrees with him.)

Why do they nibble on me and scrape my skin with their teeth?

Because they are wild animals and they can’t help themselves. This is a behavior that is similar to them scraping the bark off of trees and then sucking the sap off when the tree “bleeds.” They will do the same to you. They will scrape a wound into you and lick your blood if you let them. They will peel off a scab, eat it and open the wound and lick your blood. They can’t help it. You can distract them with a treat or a toy when they do this or put them in the cage to get them to calm down, or you can wear long sleeves or a shooting sleeve to curb the behavior. They are not doing it to hurt you – they are just wild crazy animals and they can’t help themselves. That’s one of the reasons they are called exotic and not pets for everyone.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Why do they lick me?

Two reasons. First, to get moisture and sweat off of you if you sweat a lot. They like the smell of you and want to eat it. Second to groom you. That is a sign of affection.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

How much exercise do they need?

A lot. And if they don’t get it they can become stiff, fat, depressed and unhealthy. The more exercise they get, the better. Give them all kinds of toys to play with and things to climb on and of course a wheel. Let them out to play and exercise as much as possible.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Why do I have to cut their nails?

You need to cut their nails because if you don’t their nails get caught on things – especially material. The reason this is bad is because if they get their nails stuck, they will bite off their finger or foot to get loose. That leads to death from blood loss, infection, self mutilation, etc. So as much as a pain as it is to do it – you have to. It does not matter if they don’t like it. They’ll get over it. It’s better than death any day.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

How do I cut their nails?

There are several ways. First, you can pay to have a vet or animal care professional do it for you. It’s usually $5 per animal. Second, you can do it yourself with the help of another person. The one person wraps the suggie up in a fleece like a “suggie burrito.” You then pull out each hand/foot one by one and do the deed while the other person holds the suggie. If you have an especially cooperative suggie, you can do it yourself. It is a good idea to give them treats during and after the procedure to keep their mind off of it. You only clip the very tippy-tip of the nail – not down to where it changes color. If you cut too much off they will bleed and you can stop that bleeding with a styptic pencil or flour or corn starch. But you should not cut them that deep if you pay attention and only cut the tippy tip off. You can also try putting sandpaper inserts in their wheels. That works for individuals that use the wheel a lot. You can also try a nail file to smooth down the tippy-tip of the nail. That means you’ll have to do it more often, but it might be easier to do this for you.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

How big a cage do they need?

That depends on how much time they spend outside of the cage. For example, if they roam free outside of the cage all night, it does not matter much how big it is… But for most people, a cage size that is a minimum 30 ” wide, 17″ Deep, 34″ tall with 1/2″ spacing is sufficient.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Any plants they should stay away from?

Yes, there are many plants that are not safe: Here is a good URL for that which is basically a safe and toxic plant listing: http://www.moondance-sugargliders.com/sugar_glider_plant-tree_information.htm Besides eucalyptus there are some other plants you can feed them. For example, Plumbago europaea has a nice blue flower and the gliders love it. Bottlebrush (Callistemon phoeniceus, or C. linearis, or C. rugulosus) is also treat for them. They like to battle with the leaves and stems and crunch on the blossoms. These are easy to get at a local nursery. Acacia aneura is the Acacia tree we use and we ordered that from a local nursery here in Las Vegas. In Australia, the type of Acacia that is popular is the “Golden Wattle” (Acacia longifolia). Also popular there is the Grevillea “Honey Gem” (hybrid of G.pteridifolia and .banksii) which has lots of nectar (our AU friends say gliders go nuts for it). The also like Rose blossoms. With any plant be sure it has not been sprayed with insecticide.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Why should I neuter?

There are both moral and practical reasons to neuter. A favorite answer is you should neuter so your suggies don’t bring any potentially unwanted lives into the world. There are a lot of unwanted gliders out their and a lot of them are rescued from would-be hobby breeders who find themselves neck-deep in gliders and then feel the need to “bail out” after about a year. Just take a look at the classifieds for evidence of that.

Another answer is the males are generally easier to deal with and less territorial after eutering. But this is not always true, especially if they have already mated, raised young and established a territory before they were neutered. If your motivation is to make them less territorial, that’s a shaky premise.

Another answer is the males’ scent is dramatically decreased after neutering. Keep in mind that males, especially once who have already mated, will continue to mount and attempt to mate with colony members after neutering. That urge never really goes away.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Can they be housebroken?

Not really. But they do have a tendency to pee and poo within minutes of emerging from their nesting area so you can anticipate this by holding a tissue under them or putting them in a designated “poo spot” when you first let them out…

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Why do they pee on me?

They pee on you for two reasons. First, because they have to pee like any other animal and need to relieve themselves. So if they happen to be on you when they “have to go” then you get wet. Second, they pee (just drops at a time in intervals) to mark you as their territory. It is normal and a sign that they consider you to be theirs when they do this.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary

Why do they smell?

Well, there are two kinds of smell. One is just from being dirty. But this smell does not last long for mature gliders who were raised well because they groom themselves clean. In some cases, if your glider was taken away from mom and dad too quickly, he or she will not have learned how to groom – so they will smell from bits of food or waste that they have not learned how to clean. Eventually they will learn on their own.

The other smell is the “musk” or “funk” of the male gliders when they are in bloom scent-wise. Their scent glands (head, chest, cloaca) are charged-up by the testosterone created by their male parts. This is normal and this scent is used to scent mark their colony members and also used to rub on the females in a precursor to mating. This smell goes way when you neuter males because the neutering stops the manufacture of testosterone.

Credit: Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary