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Sugar Gliders

One of the newest exotic animals that is becoming a popular pet in North America is a small marsupial known as the sugar glider.  These delicate, little animals are native to New Guinea and Australian rain forests.  Sugars gliders are blue to gray brown with a dark stripe along the

back.

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 They are active at night and live in trees.   Sugar Gliders are very social animals and live in groups of 7-10, which makes it imperative NOT to try to keep a solitary sugar glider as a pet. They are called "gliders" because they have a skin membrane along their side from their front paws to their ankles which allows them to glide from tree to tree very quickly.  They can glide up to 150 feet searching for food, defending the group's territory or avoiding predators (owls, cats, snakes and lizards).  This ability to glide can get them into trouble in captivity if they escape to outdoors or are kept in a room with breakable objects on shelves!  They can also use their tail to grasp branches or their human's finger to hold on, which is very sweet and endearing.   

 

 

Sugar Gliders can be fun pets.  If they are socialized to humans at an early age by the breeder. They bond very well with their owners.  They love to ride around in their person's pocket and although they will investigate fingers with their mouth, they rarely bite unless handled roughly.  They need lots of night playtime and are extremely active and boisterous at that time.  For a small mammal they are quite long lived ranging from 8 to 12 years in captivity. 

 

 

As with all exotic species, diet and housing must be well researched by the prospective Sugar Glider owner.  Sugar Glider caging must be extremely large due to their active and gliding lifestyle.  Wire spacing must be small as they can escape easily.  They need non-toxic branches at either end of the cage for gliding and nesting boxes at the top of the cage for sleeping.  Choosing an appropriate diet is often where owners of unusual pets fail.   These marsupials are mostly insectivorous needing a diet of at least 50% insects or high protein substitute  Many web sources mistakenly refer to sugar gliders as fruit eaters but in the wild, fruit makes up only a very small, seasonal part of their diet.  Never place their food dishes just below their sleeping boxes or branches to avoid fecal contamination.  For more detail on appropriate diets for Sugar Gliders, contact Dr. Meg Lainson at Shaw Pet Hospitals 250-652-4312.               

 

Sugar gliders can be great fun for the entire family (except the household cat or dog!)  Knowledge of their behaviour, diet and housing requirements will keep them healthy and happy for many years of enjoyment and companionship. 

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Shaw Pet Hospitals
1782 Stelly's Cross Road
Saanichton, BC V8M 1S8
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  • Phone: 250-652-4312
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