Introduction


Sugar Gliders (also commonly known as Sugar Bears and Honey Gliders) are small marsupials similar in appearance to a flying squirrel. They are native to Australia, Indonesia and New Guinea – and have become extremely popular pets in the United States, Canada and Japan. They were first imported into the United States in 1993.

At the present time, they are legal to own as domestic pets in 46 of the 48 contiguous states; with Pennsylvania and California being the only exceptions.

Due to their small stature, and the fact that they enjoy cuddling and curling up with their owners in shirt pockets or pouches, they are generally included in a group of animals commonly known as “pocket pets”. They have grown rapidly in popularity over the last decade to the point where it is now estimated their commonality is comparable with other traditional pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs.

With proper care and nutrition, sugar gliders can live between 12-15 years in captivity. Males reach sexual maturity at 12-15 months out of pouch (OOP) – and females mature at 8-12 months OOP. Adult sugar gliders typically reach 5-6 inches in length (with a tail of equal length) – and and weigh between 3-6 ounces.


Dietary Advancement
 
  • Most health problems are the direct result of following insufficient, outdated diets found on the Internet. Previously accepted diets such as Leadbetters, HPW, and BML have been steadily replaced by more nutritionally-balanced, less-complicated pellet foods specifically designed for Sugar Gliders. The two most common pellet foods are: Glide-R-Chow™ (www.sugarbears.com) and NutriMax™ (www.vetspride.com)
     
  • A healthy diet should consist of 75% pellet food, 25% fresh fruits/vegetables. A calcium-based multivitamin formulated specifically for sugar gliders is also required. The two most common multivitamins are: Glide-A-Mins™ (www.sugarbears.com) and VitaMax™ (www.vetspride.com).
     
  • Sugar gliders, like human children, will eat sweet, fatty foods to the exclusion of healthy items. Intake of fruits/vegetables should be limited as noted above, and removed each morning. Pellet food should be left in cage at all times. Insects are typically high in fat, and should only be fed on rare occasions as treats.
     
  • Sugar gliders are particularly susceptible to toxicity poisoning. All fruits/vegetables must be thoroughly washed prior to feeding, and only bottled, filtered water should be used.
     
  • Changing the diet to which a young Joey is accustomed can induce significant stress on the animal and is not recommended.
     

WARNING


Sugar Gliders should not be presented with a wide selection of foods, as they will almost always eat sweet items excessively (and to the exclusion of other more nutritious foods) when portions are continuously made available. Again, the damaging effects of this behavior cannot be overemphasized enough – and necessitate proactive management by owners – as it is believed to be a substantial contributing factor to many illnesses seen by practitioners. Uneaten fruits/vegetables should be removed from the cage each morning.