Sugar gliders are social animals best kept in pairs or small family groups. They bond closely to their owners and have a range of vocalizations. They are marsupials (have babies that develop within a pouch on their abdomens) native to Australia and New Guinea. They use the gliding membrane that extends from their paws to their ankles to glide between trees.
When housed alone, they require a lot of attention and play time in the evening, because they are very social, are nocturnal (active at night), and need a great deal of exercise. They generally sleep during the day in a hide box or pouch/hammock. Their huge eyes function better in dim light, and in the wild, their large incisor teeth are used to chew on branches from nontoxic trees, such as apple or citrus, from which they can extract sap.
Cages should be large, at least 24”x24”x48”, with many branches and perches to climb on. Cages should have wired sides with spacing no more than 1” square and a tamper-free door lock to prevent escape or intrusion by predatory pets, such as cats and dogs, or small children.
They should be provided with wooden nest boxes up high in the cage and lined with shredded newspaper or recycled paper bedding. Wooden shavings/chips are not recommended, as they are dusty and indigestible, and can be irritating. Environmental temperatures should be 70-90ºF. Thus, heat supplementation may be needed. Their enclosures should be cleaned frequently.
Sugar gliders should be fed a commercially prepared diet (pelleted diet) for insectivorous/carnivorous animals as 50% of their total diet. Leadbeater’s mixture (see below) can be cooked and fed as the other main food source (about 25% of the diet).
An additional 20-25% of their diet should be made up of chopped fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, mango, papaya, carrot, and sweet potato sprinkled with a vitamin/mineral powder.
The remaining 5-10% of the diet should include hard-cooked egg yolk or insects (crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and moths) dusted with calcium powder. In addition, nectars formulated for lory parrots can be given as a fruit substitute or a treat. Refined sugars, such as chocolate, and fatty foods (seeds and nuts) should be avoided.
150 ml (5 oz.) warm water
150 ml (5 oz.) honey
1 shelled hard-boiled egg
25 g high protein baby cereal
1 tsp vitamin/mineral supplement
Mix warm water and honey. In a separate container, blend egg until homogenized add honey/water, vitamin powder, and baby cereal, blending in each ingredient. Refrigerate.
All sugar gliders should be examined by an exotic animal veterinarian after purchase and annually to ensure that they are healthy. They should receive a complete physical examination, and dietary and environmental requirements should be reviewed. Their stool should be checked for parasites. Good preventative medicine helps ensure a long, healthy life for your pet sugar glider.