Q&A: Advice for a first-time sugar glider owner?

Advice For First Time Sugar Glider OwnerQ: I’m going to be moving into an apartment for college in the summer and I can’t take my cats with me so I was considering buying a sugar glider to keep me company (I get super lonely without a pet around). Do you have any advice for me as far as picking out and caring for my first glider? Things to know for first time owners and stuff like that?

A: There are some things every potential sugar glider owner should know.  Owning a sugar glider is a big responsibility.  Sugar gliders are not the kind of pet you can just leave in a cage.  They need to be given time and attention, and they have special diet needs.  Also, as with any pet, they can require trips to the veterinarian, which can become costly.

Before you are ready to get a sugar glider, you need to be sure there is a safe place to keep them in your residence.  You need to have space for a proper sugar glider cage.  There also needs to be enough room and things to climb on in the space where your sugar glider will be allowed to explore.

It is best for sugar gliders to have consistency in their lives, so make sure the room you choose for them is where they will be staying.  If you move to a new residence, make sure your glider/s have familiar things around them.  (I have moved 5 times since owning my sugar glider and as long as she has her cage in my bedroom, she is fine).

When you are ready to adopt a sugar glider, you need to decide if you want one or multiple gliders.  It is absolutely true that gliders can become depressed, so if you already know you will not have enough time for one sugar glider, you should get two of them (preferably a pair that is already bonded, like sisters or brothers).  It is best to have two gliders of the same gender, especially if you don’t plan on breeding joeys.

If, however, you decide you want one glider, you need to be certain you have enough time for sugar glider bonding.  It is recommended that you give your glider at least 2-3 hours of playtime, but from my personal experience, I find this to be too little of time.  I wear my sugar glider as much as possible, probably totaling 6-8 hours a day, and then I give her several hours of playtime each night.

There will be days when I can’t spend as much time with her, and if I spend too much time apart from my little girl, she will groom bald spots on her head.  Gliders make it apparent to you when they are sad you are not with them, so be mindful of this.  Bald spots are just the beginning of how their depression can manifest.  If they get really depressed, they can overeat, stop eating, or self mutilate until they get an infection, which can all lead to death.  This is serious, so please make sure you can commit to a single glider if you choose to only get one.

Comments

  1. leigh says:

    i’m a first time owner of a sugar glider, i’m afraid to pick them up for it may bite me.

    • admin says:

      You should always avoid grabbing at your glider to pick it up. Instead, approach and offer your cupped hand. The idea is to mimic the safety of the mother’s pouch with your hand by cupping it and creating a cave. If your sugar glider has not bonded to you and does not trust you, it may bite. In this case, you can approach with your hand flat and taut. By holding your hand flat with fingers together, it will be harder for you glider to bite you.

      It is important to stay calm if your glider bites. If your glider is young, around 8 weeks old, the bite will not hurt as much. If you make any sudden movements, you can frighten your glider further. You want to make your glider feel safe and trusting of you. A great way to gain a gliders trust when approaching is to offer a small treat. Try offering a small piece of fruit or dipping your finger in honey.

      If you are still scared to approach your glider, try coaxing it into a pouch and then you can handle the pouch if you need to move the glider. If your glider gets scared in the pouch, gently rub it through the pouch and speak in a soothing voice to calm it down.

  2. haidar says:

    do you have an instant way for me to bond with the glider?its been 2 week yet my glider still dont like me

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately, there is no magic button to press to instantly bond with your glider. Bonding is a process that develops over time. It often takes a lot of patience and persistence on your part, but all your effort will pay off. Bonding can typically take a month, or even up to 3 to 5 months. Just keep at it, and in time, you will find that your glider will come around.

  3. Hanah L says:

    I’m thinking about getting a sugar glider but what if u are going on a vacation?

    • admin says:

      You would have to make arrangements for your gliders to be taken care of while you are away. You cannot leave them unattended for more than 24 hours, so you will have to find somebody you can trust to take care of them when you are gone. If you will be traveling a lot, you might want to think twice about getting sugar gliders. You should also be sure to get 2 gliders if you will be traveling, because it is more stressful for a single glider when you have to be away. It is very common for single gliders to over groom if you have to go away for any extended period of time.

  4. Autumn says:

    Do they get scared easily??? I have a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd. They both do great with our Guinea pigs but then agian they don’t get scared easily…

    • admin says:

      It depends on your sugar glider, because they are all different. However, a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd are likely to scare a sugar glider. I would never recommend letting these animals mix at all. I would only recommend getting a sugar glider if you can keep it separated from the dogs. Having large animals around can be stressful for your gliders, and you never want to put them in a stressful environment.

  5. Lauryn says:

    Hi,

    I have been considering getting a Sugar Glider in a few years after my Hedgehog passes on. I just had a few questions. (Or…a lot…)

    So, if I get one, are they really frightened by dogs? I have two. I just have a Chihuahua and a Min-Pin Chihuahua Mix, but they do bark a lot. They are both really calm and mellow, and they are afraid of small animals. Would that scare the Sugar Glider and cause it to bight me?

    Also, me and my sisters all want one, so I was just curious as to if it was better to keep three males together or three females,or would it just be to overwhelming anyways.
    Also, what is more temperamental, males or females. I have heard that they are both pretty tolerable, but I just wanna make sure from people that actually have Sugar Gliders.

    Do they have to have paper-work to cross the border too? I visit family a lot, and we would take them with us, but I don’t want to get their and them be all like,”Sorry, those aren’t aloud.”

    Is traveling not recommended? I don’t want to terrify my Sugar Gliders.

    Also, does anyone have a recommendation for a really good book on Sugar Gliders and their diets?

    Thanks,
    Lauryn

    • admin says:

      Hi Lauryn! I’m going to try to answer everything as best I can.

      1. Sugar gliders can be afraid of dogs, but it really depends on the sugar glider. They are all different and have unique personalities. Just remember they are small and in the wild, they would be prey to your dogs. However, in the wild, they would be able to climb up a tree to stay safe, so they might get scared around dogs especially if they have no escape route. It is never recommended to mix sugar gliders with other household pets, so as long as you can keep them separated, it is fine.

      2. It would be great to keep three sugar gliders together! They are social animals and it is always better for them to be in pairs or groups rather than being alone.

      3. There is generally no difference in temperament between males and females as a rule. All sugar gliders are different and have unique personalities, regardless of sex. One big difference however is that males can be smellier.

      4. What country will you be traveling to? It is best to check their rules and regulations regarding traveling with animals. Some places do not allow sugar gliders so you would not be able to travel to those locations.

      5. Traveling is okay as long as you are able to provide a big enough cage for them. You can get a travel cage and be sure to bring along all the necessities. It is easiest to carry them in a pouch on yourself when you travel and they won’t even know the difference. If you are traveling by plane, that is a different story and could be stressful because you would not be allowed to carry them on you.

      6. I highly recommend my book, The Sugar Glider Care Guide. I worked really hard to provide the best and most up to date information on taking care of your sugar gliders. There is a chapter devoted to diet that covers everything in detail.

  6. Laura says:

    I am wanting to buy a 3 month old female sugar glider.
    Can I introduce another adult glider a month down the road from getting her? Would it be better to get a baby male to introduce when I get another one?

    • admin says:

      The best thing to do is to introduce a glider of the same sex that is around the same age. You can bond any gliders in time, but it would probably be easiest to match them as closely as you can.

  7. samuel says:

    Hi, I’ve juz got myself a baby glider. She is very lovely but I’m not sure about her actual age, the problem is she’s not eating anything I tried to feed her even with treats…

    Is there suppose to be a right age to feed her solid for or treats? She’s juz seemed not interested at all, I even tried fruits such as bannannas and melons, honeydews…

    I’m worried she’ll die of starvation n she’s making noises not crabbing, once a while…. its like she’s looking for mommy or hungry… so I’m really worried.

    I wanna ask as well, is low fat cow milk suitable for her? Is puppy milk the same? I’m confused…

    Pls help me…

    • admin says:

      I would recommend taking your glider to a vet for a wellness check. If your glider is not eating, she may be ill.

      If your glider has a smooth tail with fur that lays flat instead of being full and fluffy, it is probably too young to be separated from its parents. Gliders that are smaller than the width of your hand may also be too young.

      There are special milk replacers for sugar gliders, but you can also use puppy formula in a pinch.

  8. nicky says:

    HI! my boyfriend and I just purchased 2 baby boy gliders yesterday. Is it okay to pick them up with socks or gloves over our hands at first because they are both biting and scratching us EVERY time we pick them up?

    • admin says:

      You want them to get used to your scent, so it is not ideal to cover up your hands when you handle them. Use your own judgment but just be aware that it will not really help in the bonding process.

  9. Allie says:

    Hi,I’m going into six grade and I have an older brother who would help me.But we travel as a family in the summer and we are usally gone for a week. Then I have sports I play soccer and basketball and my brother is just in basketball. Since my sisters is in collage we have an extra room. Would they be okay in are in virament. One more thing we have a dog who really loves people but he’s a yellow lab and a gunie pig. Do you think the 2 surgar gliders would be good for us. I was looking for females.

  10. alley(: says:

    hi,i have two sugargliders but my female has joeys in her pouch,they’vee been in there for a week now n idk what ill need when they come out n what kinda of cage should i put them in or will they be too little for a cage? what kind of food will they need n how ill i feed them?What can i do to helpp my sugarglider?? can yu please help me
    Thanks!!!
    ~alley

  11. Coral says:

    I just got a sugar glider for the first time, Luther, he is not neutered, and came in a small hamster cage. I continuously looked for a companion and larger cage for him and finally found two. One is male, Kratos, and the other female, Angel, they both are also not neutered. I would like to get Luther into the same cage as the other two but I have looked online and seen that when a female is part of a group the males will fight for dominance. I am scared that one might possibly kill the other, especially since Kratos is blind. Is there anything I can do?

    • Coral says:

      also since they have gotten here Angel and Kratos, who have been together for two years, though have never mated, will, from time to time, crab at each other and kind of start attacking each other. Not as bad as Luther and Kratos did, but one will jump at the other, they will crab and then they’ll stop, is this normal?

  12. steve says:

    Hello,
    My girlfriend and I just bought a female glider yesterday and it yelps and snips everytime we put our hands close.I don’t want to get bit and I want it to be friendly what should I do?

  13. steve says:

    Hello,
    My glider that I just bought yesterday wont come out of its sleeping sack and I’m afraid to touch it because it screams..what should I do?

  14. Diego says:

    Hi, i plan to get a pair of glider. What is the best for a first timer (1 male + 1 female, 2 females or 2 males)? And how often they mate? Pls help thanks!

  15. Jill says:

    Which sex is recommended as far as less aggressive and/or nippy, and less odorous.

    • admin says:

      Males can be smellier, especially if they are un-neutered, since they have an extra scent gland on their forehead that females do not. However, all gliders have the potential to smelly, and some females can be smellier than others. There is not particular sex recommended as far as aggression or nipping, as all gliders have their own unique personalities regardless of sex.

  16. Cathy says:

    Hi, I wanted to know if it’s ok that if i get one that i can handle it in the morning for a bit and then the rest of the handling in the afternoon or will that cause depression also?

  17. robin says:

    im having a problem with my gliders i have two, they are about 8 months old, one female, one male, the male is more adapted to me but the female shakes uncontrolably if i get near her, however does not crab when i pick her up, just freezes and shakes, scared to death, i am the second owner of these furbabies and im im not sure how they were treated in there prior home. any suggestions on her not to be so scared? when i take her out and put her on me she dashes back for the cage. One other thing, these babies sleep from about 9 am to 2 am! is that normal? they are only up about 7 hours playing! i thought they might be up during the day while i was at work but on an off day i kept watch, they stay under there blanket still. Thanks in advance for the advice! 🙂

  18. Sam says:

    Hi, I am sorry that this is a long post but I am looking for someone who could help me with my sugar glider.

    My sister bought her about a year and a half ago from what I believe was a reputable breeder. She only bought one glider and never bonded with her. Now the glider is a year and a half old, does not like people, and my sister handed her over to me so I am trying to bond with her and make her less miserable.

    I feel very bad for this critter, she is clearly unhappy, spends all her time in her pouch, and crabs whenever i try to get near ner. I have only had her and been trying to bond with her for about a week now, but she is still incredibly timid and I can’t even hold her in my hands. Coaxing her to come out of her pouch and walk into my hand of her own volition seems impossible. Though I am gentle with her and offer her treats and bring her out in a pouch, she is very scared and I’m terrified I am going to stress her out too much. Because of how stressed it seems to make her I don’t keep her out of her cage much longer than an hour.

    I know bonding doesn’t happen overnight or after just 1 week, but I was wondering if you had any tips for bonding with a sugar glider of this age in this situation?

    Also, I had been thinking about purchasing a neutered male or another female as a companion for her, but I am worried that she might not accept it. I would love for her to have a companion so she is not lonely, but I am worried that she would reject it and then I would have a second lone sugar glider.

    Your advice would be very, very much appreciated.
    Sam

  19. Alex says:

    I am considering getting 2 baby sugar gliders… I am 13 and they are my first pets… What gender combinations do you recommend… Both male, both female, or one of each?

  20. Savannah says:

    I am getting a sugar glider in a few weeks what size cage is best ? I am super excited

  21. Angela says:

    My sugar glider has a huge bald spot on his head? I havnt been able to spend enough time w him bc I’m a college and high school student and babysit 9 hours a day 5 days a week my brother sister and mom can play w him to but they don’t. I love him and want the best for him

  22. Katie says:

    I just got 2 female sugar gliders a mom and a daughter both pretty grown up, they growl at and and are scarred of me. I know I need to bond with them but am I doing anything wrong? And how can I bond with them if I don’t have a bonding pouch and they don’t like me

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