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.
- 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outdated diets found on the Internet.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
- 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.
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.