Practice Makes Perfect
There are many things to do to prepare for your suggies, we find that it’s best to have most of this done in advance so there is less to worry about and so that you’ll be fully prepared for any situation that might arise.
The absolute first thing to do, of course, is make a decision. Are sugar gliders the right pet for your family?
Check out the Basics and the Myths. Join a forum or two, some facebook groups, perhaps even a local suggie meet up. (Here’s our FB Group!) Talk to people through some of these websites or places and ask plenty of questions. Make sure sugar gliders are the right fit for your lifestyle, your family and the qualities you desire in a new furry family member. It’s good to get some of this information directly from people who already have gliders and perhaps have had them for quite some time. They’ll be able to give you a really good range of answers depending on what you ask. Keep in mind that everyone is different and every suggie is different, so experiences may vary depending on who you speak to.
If you’ve checked out many different sources of information, from websites to groups, forums and even other suggie parents and you’ve come to the decision that sugar gliders would be a good fit for your family then you’ll want to check out the list of steps below to help make the transition to being a suggie parent an easy one!
– Step by Step –
First on the list: Find a veterinarian that sees sugar gliders!
This may not seem like a big deal but it may not be quite what you’re expecting! Sugar gliders are still considered exotic and sadly many vets don’t deal with exotic animals. You’ll need to call around and find one that sees exotics, sugar gliders specifically, and make sure they’re experienced with them, too. (Unfortunately some vets will say they accept sugar gliders but do so without knowing much about them. This is dangerous as gliders are VERY unique. In a situation like this one gliders teeth were actually clipped which is horrible as they NEVER grow back. The vet assumed it was a ‘rodent’ with teeth that had to be trimmed. This is just one of many reasons to be careful in selecting your vet.) The Vet Info page will give you some links and tips to help you find the right vet for your family. You may also want to ask on the forums or on our FB Group as there may be other people near you who can give you some great recommendations! (( Note: Sugar gliders DO NOT need shots/vaccinations! They do however need wellness checks and fecals every so often. ))
Next, this one might surprise you.. Find a 24 Hour Emergency Vet!
Not every area has one of these, especially one that sees exotic animals. But it’s vital to find one if you can, or to ask the vet you selected if there are any emergency options or people you could call in an emergency situation. Since sugar gliders are nocturnal we’ve found that emergencies with them often occur at night when most vet offices are closed. If you notice a severe injury, dehydration, or some other problem you’ll want to get them in AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This is because gliders can hide illnesses or injuries VERY well, often until it’s too late. This is a defense mechanism that helps them survive in the wild by helping to protect the colony. So once it’s been long enough for us to notice any serious signs it’s likely been going on for some time and absolutely vital that they get in to see the vet as quickly as possible. Searching for a normal vet and an emergency vet before you even bring your suggie home will save you lots of time and stress, believe me.
After that, of course, time to find some suggies!
Once you’ve found a great vet you feel comfortable with it’s time to find a suggie! Makes sense, right? There are many options when it comes to finding the right gliders for you. Of course, this varies depending on where you live as they are more common in some areas or bigger cities.
• You could choose to adopt off of a place like Craigslist. We have some tips and insights on this option on our Adoption – Craigslist page. There are some pros and cons, obviously. You could pay a decently discounted price for your gliders and all the supplies you need if someone is rehoming them with the supplies. (( ALSO! Remember, it’s best to get TWO Gliders right off the bat, not one! They’re social colony animals, they can easily get depressed if kept alone and it can be difficult to introduce two gliders as some personalities clash, there is no GUARANTEE that any two will get along after intros, so it’s best to buy two that are ALREADY together and at the same time, if at all possible. )) Some of the downsides, though, could be that they might be neglected, so they could be pretty scared and unfriendly. Do keep in mind, though, that almost any glider will come around and bond with you if given the right amount of time and patience. Besides that, there is a chance they could be ill or need vet care, that can get costly and be heart breaking, if anything serious happens. So there’s a bit of a risk there, but I’ve seen people adopt off of CL and have wonderful experiences too. You have other options, though.
• You could choose to rescue if there’s a glider rescue near you. We have a list of some of the biggest ones on our Rescues page. Keep in mind, if you’re adopting a rescue the price should be pretty reasonable, usually the cost of a neuter, a vet check, etc. Some people claim to be ‘rehoming rescue’ gliders when in actuality they’re just selling them. If someone is charging you hundreds of dollars or more for a SINGLE rescue glider they may be ‘flipping’. (People will ‘flip’ gliders, they buy them cheap on CL or get them free and turn around and resell them to make a profit.) So be cautious of this! The legitimate rescue sources, like the ones on the linked page, are very reliable and offer all the assistance you could ask for, some even offer classes to help new parents, too! This can be a very enlightening and rewarding process, really.
• You could also choose to purchase from a breeder. Now, this could be local or otherwise. Breeders DO ship sugar gliders. Some may not, for personal reasons, but many do, so you can find a suggie near or far. The first step would likely be to check our Breeder Map, or our Gliderslist website or facebook group. It’s best to check up on the breeder, don’t just go for whichever is closest. When you find one that you’re interested in check some of the forums to learn about them, ask on FB if anyone has any experience with them, typically you’ll get some reviews this way. You can also check Sugar Glider Help, it’s a website that collects reviews on breeders, rescues and veterinarians too! There are obvious perks to adopting from a breeder. You may be able to meet the joey before it’s fully weaned, you’ll know your glider has lineage so you can be sure it isn’t inbred(if you adopt from a GOOD breeder, there ARE bad breeders too!), you may get a discount if you adopt a pair of siblings, you will usually get extended support from the breeder(again, if they’re a good one!) and you’ll be able to start out with a younger glider, too. Keep in mind though, getting a glider as a joey doesn’t ensure they will bond more easily or be more friendly. Each glider has it’s own personality and some of them are a little more bratty than others, so to speak. They’ll all come around, really, given the right amount of time and patience, so don’t let age be a huge factor in your decision!
Once you‘ve settled the matter of deciding where to adopt from you’ll need to purchase supplies!
This is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to adding sugar gliders to your family. We always tell people to save up and purchase the supplies you’ll need prior to purchasing any gliders. Make sure you can have all of these items in your home BEFORE your suggies arrive! It’s absolutely vital that you purchase all the vital supplies before bringing them home so everything will be ready. Also, you’ll need to plan for the fact that it will take some time to get all your supplies as some things can only be ordered online. You can NOT find proper and suggie-safe items in local pet stores 99% of the time. We’ll go over some of the most important items one by one in an easy to follow list! (Also, most of these items have their own specific page with more details and information. So we’ll focus mostly on basics and pricing on this page to give you a better idea of general cost. I’ll list the average cost first, then details and an explanation.
- Housing/Cage – $100-$200+ – We actually have an entire section dedicated to information on suggie safe cages. Check out our Housing page. The main focus here is size. Two feet wide by two deep by three high is the absolute minimum size that is acceptable for sugar gliders. Height is more important than width, here. They like to climb and jump and be up high, typically. Also, the cage bars should be no more than a half inch apart, any larger(and even at a half inch they can be too flimsy) and the gliders will slip out! Don’t worry about if the bars are vertical or horizontal, gliders don’t mind either way. Also you don’t need shelves or ladders, they will literally climb up the walls and jump across or down, whatever they want to do really. These can cost anywhere from $50 to $500+. Realistically I’d budget about $100-200 for a decent sized cage. There are some links on the Housing page.
- Suggie Safe Wheels – $40-75 ea. – One of the most vital things to buy is a suggie safe wheel. None of the wheels sold in the pet store are considered glider safe, not even the Wodent Wheel. They’re all made for rodents, that doesn’t work quite right for marsupials. Not only do gliders have a unique way of running and hopping but they also have long curling tails. Some of the normal store wheels and the wodent wheel have been known to cause some issues, from pulling out fur to breaking and ripping off tails. The store wheels may be cheaper but in the long run isn’t your gliders health and safety worth the cost of a wheel made specifically for sugar gliders? Visit our Wheel Page for information on wheels, where to buy the safe one and videos of suggies running in wheels! It’s really interesting to watch, really.
- Cage Sets – $30-60+ ea. – Cage Set Vendors Here! Cage sets are what we call a collection of fleece pouches(for sleeping in), hammocks, vines, bridges and much more. Gliders sleep in fleece pouches that hang from the wall or ceiling of the cage. Now, while they can be made at home with a sewing machine it takes a LOT of skill to do so. Stitching on these has to be done precisely so that no suggie nails will snag on them. If they get caught on a string they could severely injure themselves or even attempt to chew off the limb to get free. So it’s vital to remember the saying “You get what you pay for!” especially here, cheaper may mean lower quality. It’s best to check all the vendors and ask for reviews. These sets come in varied amounts with many different designs and styles so prices vary greatly but I’d expect to spend at LEAST $50 on one decent size starter set. Eventually you’ll want multiple sets so you can swap them out for fun, while you clean one, for a holiday theme, etc. These are vital, too, as suggies should not be sleeping out in the open on a ‘shelf’ or in a wheel. They feel safest in a small warm sleeping pouch.
- Food Bowls/Glider Kitchen – $3-20 ea. – There are many options when it comes to feeding sugar gliders. Some gliders prefer to hang while eating, some like to sit on the floor of the cage and some even prefer to sit on a hammock. (Though if they really want to they will pick up the food and take it where they please!) Some people use the bowls that hook onto the side of the cage that are commonly for birds. Some use heavy ceramic dishes so the gliders can’t flip them if they’re on the floor. Some people use glider kitchens, as well. You can purchase these from select vendors or build your own rather easily. They’re typically an overturned tupperware or rubbermaid container with a hole cut into the side(and sanded down smooth). This way the food ‘mess'(gliders sometimes throw food) stays in the kitchen!
- Water Bottle/Silo – $3-12 ea. – Most people use water bottles, typically glass or plastic. (Some plastics contain BPA which is best to avoid, so glass may be the safer option!) Glass ones last longer as some gliders are chewers. Some people also use water silos. It’s ALWAYS best to avoid using a dish as they will pee/poo just about anywhere including in their dish. Ask the person you’re adopting from what your gliders are used to now, though most will transition pretty easily if you give them time.
- Food/Diet Supplies/Treats – $5-$35 ea. Depending on Items – This is something you’ll need to do a little research on first, or perhaps you’ll want to ask the gliders current parents what diet they’re using. Most of the staple diets require some ingredients that you’ll need to order online. This is a great reason to do some research on diets before bringing your suggies home, that way everything will have time to ship and you’ll have a chance to make the recipe and make sure everything goes well! You’ll also want to buy some treats and snacks like yogie drops, almond slivers and possibly some mealworms!