Sugar Glider Basics
After our big reveal on Sunday of our two newest family additions, several of our furiends and readers asked some questions and expressed an interest in knowing more about sugar gliders. I thought I would take today’s post to share some info about them. Here is a bit of basic info that I shared on Sunday for anyone who missed it:
- They are marsupials, originally from Australia
- Their name refers to their love of all things sugary and sweet and their ability to glide through the air like a flying squirrel
- They have a lifespan of 12-15 years
- They are nocturnal
- Once full grown, they will weigh about 5 ounces and be the size of my hand
- They eat a homemade diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and protein, with the occasional meal worm treat
- They are very active and playful and can form a strong bond with their humans
Sugar Glider Diet
As mentioned above, sugar gliders eat a mixed diet of fruits, vegetables, and protein. There are several “staple diets” that are recommended to be sure your gliders are receiving the optimal nutrition needed. After reading through all the recipes, I settled on the Pet Glider Exotic Diet. I can make a month’s supply for both of my gliders at one time, and then divide the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. They get one thawed cube a day with some vitamins sprinkled on top. I can then feed treats like apple slices, dehydrated fruit, meal worms, honey straws, and yogurt drops.
Bonding with sugar gliders requires a lot of patience and work, but it is all worth it once they have bonded to you. We are on Week 4 right now, and Jubilee and Sydney will both eat out of my hand and let me pet them. They will also nibble and lick my fingers, and they seem to have a real fondness for chewing on my cuticles. They won’t let me pick them up or hold them yet, but I’m hoping they will soon. To help with the bonding process, you can carry them around in their fleece pouches during the day. (They spend their days sleeping together in little fleece pockets and pouches – remember, they are nocturnal). This allows them to get used to your scent and learn to trust you. You can also get a little pop-up tent to take them out in at night when they are awake. This allows them to walk around and explore in the tent with you and discover you on their own terms. We just got a tent earlier this week, so I’m looking forward to tent time! I just have to keep reminding myself that patience is key! As I said, we are only on Week 4, and it can take up to several months for gliders to bond to you.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal creatures, and let me tell you – they are seriously active at night! Their cage can’t be in our bedroom, or else they would keep us up all night running around, chirping, and barking (yes, they bark!). Right now, Jubilee and Sydney start to wake up around 8:00pm, and they go to bed around 8:00am. As they get older and have bonded to me, I can adjust their sleep pattern a bit so they wake up a little earlier. Some people say that you can reverse their sleep schedule by forcing them to stay awake during the day, but most responsible glider owners will tell you that is a bad idea, as it is unnatural. As it is right now, I can spend some time with them in the evenings for a few hours before I go to bed, and we always have breakfast together before I go to work in the mornings.
Sugar gliders are colony animals, so they are happiest when they live with at least one other glider. They can become depressed if they live on their own, so it is never recommended to have just one glider. Jubie and Sydney are inseparable. They are always cuddled together in their fleece pouches during the day (they never sleep alone), and they groom each other as well. It is absolutely adorable.
How do I tell them apart?
The stripe that goes down the center of Sydney’s head is wider than Jubie’s. For the first couple of weeks we had them, I could only tell who was who if they were both right beside each other. Now I can tell them apart without having to compare. Their personalities are also completely different. Sydney is wild and crazy, and Jubie is calmer and more relaxed. The bonding process seems to be moving more quickly with Jubie than with Sydney because of their personality differences.
Now on to the biggest question on everyone’s minds…
What do the kitties think?
At first, they were extremely interested. They all have attempted to climb the cage at one time or another (even Sophie – she made it all the way to the top!). But after a couple of weeks, the gliders became old news. The cats will sit and watch them sometimes, but that’s about it. I’ve discouraged them from climbing the cage or even putting their feet up on it, so they’ve all caught on by now that they are supposed to leave the cage alone. When we aren’t home or when we go to bed at night, their cage gets rolled into our guest bedroom with the door shut so the kitties can’t bother them at all. Unfortunately, Jubie and Sydney won’t ever be allowed to meet the kitties without the protection of their cage bars between them. As much as I can imagine how cute it would be to see the gliders snuggled up with Sophie, it would be irresponsible and unsafe. Sugar gliders are so small and fragile, that even a playful swat from one of the cats could injure them.
I think that covers all of the basics. Let me know if you have any questions – I am happy to answer them!