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5 Facts About Your Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider
Sugar gliders are adorable little marsupials and interesting animal companions. Here are five facts about your sugar glider to help you understand your pet and ensure its good health.

1. Sugar Gliders Are Native to Treetops

Like flying squirrels, sugar gliders prefer to hang out in tall trees. The small possums are found in the wild forests of:
  • Papua-New Guinea
  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • Tasmania
Sugar gliders build nests by lining tree hollows with leaves. Provide a wooden nesting box, hanging sling, or other similar sleeping spot for your sugar glider.

2. Sugar Gliders Really Glide

The webbing between the legs and body of a sugar glider is called the patagium. It allows the sugar glider to become airborne for a short time with the help of its stabilizing tail.

In the wild, sugar gliders move from tree to tree by gliding on the air currents and taking advantage of their webbing. They forage for food, find mates, and escape predators with their gliding maneuvers.

In your home, an unrestrained sugar glider will hop, climb, and jump all over your furniture. Provide your sugar glider with a large, tall cage full of shelves and ledges for climbing and jumping.

If possible, source a bare trunk of a small shrub that has branches on it. Fit it into the cage to provide a more natural, interesting habitat.

3. Sugar Gliders Love Sweet Things

Sugar gliders come by their name honestly. They adore sap and other sweet things. Good foods for sugar gliders include:
  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Melon
  • Meal worms
  • Crickets
  • Hard boiled eggs
Bad sweets to give your sugar glider include candy, raw sugar, and chocolate. Avoid canned fruit or veggies; only serve raw fruit and vegetables to your sugar glider to limit your pet's salt and sugar intake.

Sugar gliders need a well-balanced mix of foods to remain healthy. The wrong diet causes many nutritional problems, so consult with your veterinarian if you're unsure about the correct diet for your pet.

4. Sugar Gliders Are Sensitive to Diet and Stress

Sugar gliders are prone to metabolic bone disease. This problem is the result of low calcium intake or deficiencies in other minerals and nutrients. Intestinal parasites can also be an issue with sugar gliders.

Your sugar glider needs supplements including calcium and vitamin D for bone health. Ask your exotic animal veterinarian about the correct dosage for your pet. The vet can also check for any parasites.

Stress causes a lot of illness in sugar gliders. The animals are social creatures, so they don't do well in isolation. If you can't handle more than one sugar glider, and you can't interact with your pet for at least a few hours every day, your lonely sugar glider may become sick.

A healthy sugar glider shows the following signs:
  • Smooth fur coat
  • Bright eyes
  • Damp, pink nose
  • Pink guns
Sugar glider feet should have good gripping strength, and the patagium should be healthy and elastic. If your sugar glider seems weak, has sunken eyes, or has a droopy, loose coat, it's time to consult a veterinarian.

5. Sugar Gliders Are Night Shift Animals

In the wild, sugar gliders do most of their foraging and socializing at night. They're nocturnal creatures who prefer to hole up in their hollow logs during the day.

Keep your sugar glider in a low-stress state by providing a dark, quiet sleeping spot for the cage. Use a breathable cover or other method to keep sunlight and artificial illumination away from the cage while your sugar glider is resting.

Avoid waking your sugar glider during its daytime sleep hours. Activity and noise during its sleep period are stressful for the animal and can lead to hair loss and other stress-related problems.

Be aware that all male sugar gliders have a bare patch on their heads. This is not a rash or scab but a scent gland. The rough patch is a normal feature and not a sign of stress.

Contact Riverview Veterinary Hospital for specialized sugar-glider health care. We provide expert veterinary services to sugar gliders in the Smyrna, Marietta, and Atlanta areas.