These terrific pets certainly aren’t for everyone. Sugar Gliders do take a bit of research into how to offer them the best home. Consideration whether you’re truly able to care for these magnificent creatures. However for the more adventurous (with extra time on their hands!) we’ve sourced a few nuggets of information about these marsupials from the experts:
- Sugar gliders come from Southern, Eastern and Northern Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and they were introduced in to Tasmania in the 1800’s.
- As marsupials, they are born at a very early stage of development weighing less than 1 gram. They then make their way to mum’s pouch where they continue to develop and grow.
- Sugar Gliders are arboreal which means they spend most of their lives in the canopy of the forest.
- They live in large colonies of up to 12 individuals. Colonies usually consist of one, occasionally two dominant males; and females make up the rest.
- In order to line the nest, wild sugar gliders will carry twigs and leaves up to the den in their tails. In captivity we encourage this natural behaviour with shredded paper, fake plants/leaves, etc.
- Sugar gliders have a gliding membrane (called a patagium) that stretches from the wrists to the ankles and allows them to glide up to 100m from tree to tree.
- The eyes of a sugar glider are very large as they are nocturnal which means they come out around dusk and sleep during the day.
- Sugar gliders can live up to 15 years in captivity if kept correctly. In the wild the average lifespan is 3 – 5 years.
- Two of the toes on both back feet are fused together (known as syndactyly) to form a grooming comb.
- The front paws are more like a hand. They have opposable thumbs allowing them to grip and hold on to things.
Sugar gliders have a number of scent glands; the most obvious of which is on an unneutered male’s head and looks like a bald patch. He uses it to scent other members of his colony.
- Wild gliders’ diet largely consists of Acacia Gum, which is indigestible to many species. Sugar gliders however, have an elongated caecum (part of the intestine) to allow gum to be digested.
- The sugar glider’s anklebone can rotate through 180 degrees to allow them to descend vertical tree trunks head first.
- Sugar gliders are capable of suckling different aged joeys at the same time. Marsupial milk changes composition as the joey grows, each nipple can produce a different stage of milk.
- Sugar gliders make a variety of sounds from clicking, to what some have described as the sound of a rusty chainsaw! They even bark like a small dog, especially around a full moon!
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I have kept mammals all of my life, and when I met my partner, Richard, we became interested in exotic mammals. During this time we have kept a wide variety of exotic species in the past to the present. Since being fortunate enough to have a truly bonded glider, Dinx, I have been completely captivated by them. It was at that point I decided to specialise in sugar gliders.
That was back in 2003 and I have kept gliders ever since. I started breeding them in 2005. I spent hour after hour researching about their wild habitats, diet, and social structure. In my opinion, the more we learn about wild sugar gliders, the better life we can offer them in captivity.
Sugar gliders need a specialised diet, and back in 2003 it was impossible to buy the items required in the UK. When we opened our reptile shop in 2005, I thought it would be a great idea to make these items easily accessible to UK keepers. The Sugar Glider Shop now sends products all over Europe and further afield!
I feel very lucky to be able to help keep gliders healthy; they are very special animals and deserve the best care possible. As well as the Sugar Glider Shop, I also run a forum where there is a plethora of information regarding every aspect of keeping sugar gliders. The forum staff has over 60 years experience between us and are more than happy to share their knowledge.