Sugar gliders are small possums that, as well as having a preference for sweet foods and nectars, can glide through the air. In the wild, these little possums glide from tree to tree. They have become increasingly popular pets, as potential owners are drawn to their gliding capability as well as to their large, appealing eyes and convenient size.
They are considered fairly easy to care for, although they can’t be litter trained, and with regular handling, they can be sweet pets. It should be noted that in many states of the US, you do need a breeding license to breed Sugar Gliders, so check local laws before you consider mating yours, or you could fall foul of local laws. Otherwise, females reach puberty at around 8 months and males at 12 months.
Young female Sugar Gliders need to be removed before they reach puberty, or they can be attacked by their hutch mates. Sugar Gliders have a short gestation period of just over 2 weeks but once born, the young will remain in their mother’s pouches for about 70 days and they will be weaned by the time they reach 4 months.
About Sugar Gliders
Sugar Gliders are small marsupials. They live primarily in Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. They have skin between their fingers and their back ankle, and they can use this to glide, using their tail as a rudder to maneuver while in the air. They have very large eyes which are used to help them see in dark conditions.
In the wild, Sugar Gliders live in colonies of up to 10 animals. They feed on pollen, nectar, and other sweet foods, hence the term sugar in their name. The animals are usually polygamous, with males mating with multiple females, although they can be monogamous in areas where food is scarce.
Sugar Gliders as Pets
Sugar Gliders are considered exotic pets, although a proliferation of videos of them soaring into their owners’ hands have appeared on social media, making them a more popular pet species in recent years. Before keeping a Sugar Glider as a pet, check with local laws. Hawaii, Alaska, and California prohibit the ownership of these little marsupials. And in other states, some cities may also prohibit their ownership. In yet more areas, a permit is required to keep them.
Experts point to the fact that Sugar Gliders are social animals that need company and a lot of space as being reasons not to keep them as pets. With that said, many owners do keep them and raise happy pets that thrive. If you do intend to keep Sugar Gliders, though, you will need plenty of room and you will need to give your pet lots of attention.
Breeding Sugar Gliders
If breeding is legal in your country, state, and city, it is relatively easy to have these little possums breed. Most people keep at least two Sugar Gliders, so they can provide company for one another, and it is most common to keep one male with one or two females. Their estrous cycle lasts around 29 days. Most females will have one or two litters of joeys a year, with a litter consisting of between one and six joeys, but most commonly two.
Once pregnant, Sugar Gliders have a short gestation period of just 2 weeks. This is because when the young are born, they crawl into their mother’s pouch where they will remain for about 70 days. When the babies emerge from the pouch, they will be weaned onto a solid diet. Once the babies have been eating solid food for a month, you can start to gradually handle the young, but only for a few minutes at a time. You should handle regularly to ensure that the Sugar Glider will be open to handling and holding later in life.
Caring for Young Sugar Gliders
Once a Glider is weaned, it is usually ready to be removed from the mother at about 3 months of age, especially if they are female. Females over the age of about 3 months may be attacked by other Sugar Gliders in the family.
Sugar Gliders are curious, fun, and cute little marsupials. Like all marsupials, they have short gestation periods, which are supplemented by the young spending several weeks inside the mother’s pouch before they emerge and are weaned onto solid food. Females reach sexual maturity at around 8 months and males at 12 months, although it can take a little longer than this, for both genders.
Featured Image Credit: Praisaeng, Shutterstock