Husbandry

1) Cage Construction
  • PVC coated wire is preferable over epoxy, paint, powder-coated, or galvanized wire due to potential health and safety hazards.
  • Openings should be no larger than ½” x 1” (1.25-2.5cm) rectangles. Cages consisting primarily of vertical bars (ie. bird cages) are not recommended for babies or juveniles.
  • Removable plastic waste tray should be at least 1” (2.5cm) from the floor of the cage. Paper lining is preferable to wood shavings.

2) Cage Size

  • Different cage sizes are optimal for babies vs. adults. Bird cages are not suitable for Sugar Gliders.
  • Ideal cage size for 1-2 babies/juveniles younger than 5 months (out of pouch):
    Width/Depth: 18-20 inches (46-51cm) / Height: 24-30 inches (61-76cm)
  • Recommended cage size for 1 or 2 adult animals over 5 months of age:
    Width: 36 inches (91cm) / Depth: 24 inches (61cm) / Height: 40 inches (102cm).
  • Larger cage sizes for adults are preferable. Additional height is the primary consideration.

3) Cage Location

  • Temperature, noise levels, odor, lighting and the social nature of the animal are important considerations in cage placement within a home.
  • The ideal temperature range in the home for a healthy animal is 75-80F (24-27C). A supplemental heat source is often needed for a healthy glider.
  • Avoid placing cage in or near kitchen due to possible health hazards associated with non-stick cookware, boiling water, and other kitchen hazards.

4) Essential Supplies

  • Use of a supplemental heat source is strongly recommended. A conventional heat rock is preferable to heat lamp or UV lighting during the bonding period.
  • Introduction of a nesting cloth/heat rock combination is preferable to nesting boxes or hanging pouches due to stress and bonding considerations.
  • Once the bonding is completed, the use of a nesting pouch inside the cage is optional.
  • Food/water bowls and food items should be placed inside an enclosed dining area to avoid contamination and unnecessary waste. For more information, view “Nutrition” video at www.asgv.org
  • The use of both a conventional water bottle and secondary water dish (such as an ashtray) is recommended.

5) Toys and Accessories

  • Gliders will enjoy most traditional pet toys.
  • Avoid use of anything with loose strings or wires which could entangle the animal.
  • Exercise wheels are an important source of necessary exercise. Avoid use of traditional hamster/rodent wheels due to hazards associated with prehensile tail. (www.sugarbears.com)
  • Rope and/or wooden toys should be replaced every 3-4 months due to sanitary considerations.

6) Foliage

  • Use of quality artificial plants is preferred to natural fauna due to health and sanitary considerations.
  • These should be removed and cleaned every two to three weeks. They must be thoroughly rinsed.
  • A preferable alternative to foliage is 1in. plastic chain (Lowe’s/Home Depot).

7) Odor Management

  • Regular cleaning of cage and all supplies – and a quarterly sterilization of same – is recommended.
  • Odor levels can be substantially controlled with diet.
  • Effective topical sprays and waste tray additives are commercially available. (www.sugarbears.com)

8) Household Hazards

  • Owners should always thoroughly wash hands – including under fingernails – before handling animals to avoid accidental transfer of toxins/bacteria.
  • Sugar Gliders are susceptible to toxicity poisoning and a wide range of household hazards due to their keen senses and highly-inquisitive nature. The most common cause of injuries or death in the home include:

    1) Drowning in open containers of fluids, such as toilets, sinks, bathtubs, or buckets
    2) Burns from landing on stovetops, light bulbs, toasters, coffee pots, etc.
    3) Poisoning from fruit-scented air fresheners, or fruit-scented cleaners such as Lysol™.
    4) Poisoning from insect or rodent baits.
    5) Poisoning from pesticides sprayed in rooms or on foods.
    6) Poisoning from residues left on hands or under fingernails.
    7) Poisoning from chemicals contained in tap water used as drinking water.
    8) Accidental contamination of food or water with spray cleaners such as Windex™.
    9) Chocolate or caffeinated drinks
    10) Contact with toxic houseplants or holiday decorations

    Most mistakes can be avoided simply by:

    1) Closing toilet lids and bathroom doors
    2) Using only bottled water as drinking water.
    3) Avoiding unsupervised excursions in the home
    4) Removal of all fruit-scented air fresheners, candles, insect and rodent baits.
    5) Temporarily moving the cage to a different room when cleaning,
    6) Thoroughly washing your hands – including under the fingernails – prior to handling the animal.
    7) Washing all foods thoroughly prior to feeding.
    8) Making sure all chocolate and caffeinated beverages are secured.
    9) Making sure all houseplants and holiday decorations are safe.
     

Behaviors

  • Sugar gliders are highly social animals and should be kept in groups of 2 or more whenever possible. If housed alone, owners must be prepared to spend 2+ hours/day interacting with the animal to provide companionship.
  • Joeys should be adopted between 7-12 weeks out of pouch (OOP).
  • The bonding process should begin before 12 weeks OOP, and may take several weeks to complete.
  • When acclimated slowly together, sugar gliders readily bond with other housepets. Care should be taken to use good judgment.
  • Although nocturnal by nature, sugar gliders can be adjusted to any schedule which allows maximum interaction with their owners.
  • Sugar gliders enjoy playing outside their cage and on their owners. Careful supervision is strongly suggested when playing - with special attention given to avoiding open toilet lids and other common household hazards.
  • Noises include “crabbing” (scared), barking (lonely or playing), purring/chirping (contentment), sneezing/hissing (grooming or playing).

Common Problems Requiring Veterinary Care

  • Malnutrition and poor care practices usually derived from unregulated internet websites. Hind-limb paralysis, blindness, dehydration, cataracts, obesity, and seizures are typical results of malnutrition.
  • Pneumonia, including discharge from the eyes/nose.
  • Diarrhea resulting from changing diet or adding new foods.
  • Stress-related diseases including self-mutilation, cannibalism of young, and eating disorders.
  • Hair loss typically resulting from poor nutrition and vitamin intake.
  • Males should be neutered whenever possible to avoid anti-social behaviors and self-mutilation.

Suggested Preventative Care

  • An examination performed by a knowledgeable veterinarian should be performed within 1 week of adoption.
  • Bi-annual checkups, including:
    - a review of dietary and care practices
    - Stool exam
    - Bloodwork and/or radiographs as recommended by veterinarian
    - No vaccines are currently required.