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Here are a few questions regularly asked by those interested in keeping gliders.

What is a sugar glider?

A small, gliding marsupial that come from Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and New Guinea. They are about 12 inches in length, about 6 inches of body and about 6 inches of tail.
Female gliders have a pouch for carrying their young (joeys) around in.

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Are they tame?

Not all of the time. They can become very tame and bond with their owners, whether they will do this is down to their personality, whether the breeder has spent any time with them and how much time you have to spend with them.
You have to win their trust and this can take anything from a week or two to a year or more. There is no time limit I can put on it.

Do they bite?

It is a very strong possibility that you will get bitten, especially in the early days and before they have bonded with you.
The bites generally aren’t too bad, and some don’t bite at all but I’m not going to sugar coat them, expect to be bitten and if you’re not then great.

Can I keep just 1 glider?

The simple answer to this question is no. You should not keep just one glider; they are naturally social animals living in large groups in the wild where being on their own would mean death.
A single animal often becomes depressed and with that comes illness, over grooming, self-mutilation and sometimes death. Even if you can spend all day with your glider, you cannot sleep in their pouch with them nor play with them in their wheel.
People often remark on the difference in their gliders when they introduce a friend or two.

Can I keep male and female together?

You can, but the chances are they will breed unless you have the male neutered. Breeding is not a good idea for a new keeper; gliders will quite often kill and eat their own young if the conditions are not right. This is a very common problem.

If you wish to avoid breeding then you can keep together:

  • All females
  • All neutered males
  • Neutered males and females
  • Entire male and neutered male

How can I sex them?

As very young joeys and mature adults it’s very easy, males have obvious testicles that are on the underside of their body, they will also have scent glands on their head and chest.
Females will be missing the testicles and in place will be a small slit which is a lot more obvious when they are adults, they do not generally have obvious scent glands.

Neutered males will be harder to tell as they are missing the testicles, they have no slit and depending on how long they have been neutered, the scent glands will also be inactive.

Do they scent?

Males are the main culprits for scenting. They have obvious scent glands, which they rub on to you, other gliders, cage furniture and their environment.
The other way of scenting is urinating and rubbing their bum along on things. The best way of reducing scenting odours is by having the male neutered, this ‘deactivates’ their main scent glands.

Do they smell?

Yes they do.  They have a musky fruity smell about them that once you’re used to you tend not to notice.  Un-neutered males have a stronger smell as they have active scent glands and they mark their territory.  Excessive cleaning of the cage will cause excessive scent marking from the male.

Do I bath them?

Simply… No! They are clean animals and sort their appearance out themselves, that is what the fused toes are for.  Getting a glider wet can be detrimental to their health, they can become hypothermic very quickly.

Nor should they have dust baths, the dust will severely irritate the eyes as they protrude from the skull.

What is that fused toe for?

Two of the toes on the both of the back feet are partially fused, and are used as a grooming comb; it is normal for them to be joined together.

WHY IS my boy is going bald?

Male gliders develop scent glands they males mature.  The main ones are on the top of the head and on the chest. The glands secrete an orange/brown oily substance which parts the hair which is often called the bald spot.

What should I feed them?

Sugar gliders need a well balanced diet that is low in sugar (despite their name).  The SGS II diet is currently the most popular diet in the UK and produces amazing results.  It is also widely used in Europe and it is also now an approved diet in America.

What should I keep them in?

Sugar gliders need a large cage, 4ft high x 2ft x 2ft is the minimum cage size but bigger is better.  Custom made vivariums or ‘Glideariums’ are now available from Jon Fitzgerald and  they include safe heating and lighting.

Are they easy to breed?

Getting them breeding isn’t the problem; it’s keeping the joeys alive after they have come out of pouch that is the issue. As I mentioned previously, joey cannibalisation is a big issue which most new breeders (it seems) experience at least once,
it is very distressing for us as keepers to know this has happened, but to witness it is just awful!

How much attention do they need?

This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions. But, they need more attention than the average small pet.
In order for them to bond with you, the more time you can spend with them the better. They should ideally have at least 2 hours of accompanied out of cage playtime per night.

Do gliders make good pets for children?

Not really.  Gliders are nocturnal, will your child be able to spend any time with them if they do not awake until 11pm?  The diet can be complicated, are you prepared to ensure they are being fed correctly?  Gliders can bite.  They have sharp claws which when they come in to contact with the skin can cause a rash.  They are high maintenance pets with a long lifespan.

Do you need a license to own them in the UK?

No license is required.

Are they completely nocturnal or do they wake during the day too?

Sometimes gliders will rise during the day, but generally they are night dwellers. Wake up times vary from 6 – 7 pm to midnight.