Q&A: Sugar glider smell?

Sugar Glider SmellQ: I have 3 sugar gliders, 2 females and 1 male. It seems that there is an odor that they or maybe the male produces. Their cage is clean and their pouches are also clean. I believe I am giving them the proper diet. Is there something I can do to make them not so smelly? Is it the male? Its a musty odor. Thanks for your help.

A: Male sugar gliders have scent glands at the bald spot in the top middle area of the head. The scent gland is what creates the bald spot.  Another scent gland is located in the middle of the chest. They use these to mark their female mates, offspring, and territory. Both the males and females have anal scent glands, and the females have a scent gland in their pouch.

Sugar gliders can typically give off three distinct smells. The first is a sweet, musky scent. This is probably what you are smelling, and it is completely natural. The second is harder to describe, but it is not particularly offensive. This odor can be very strong when they are breeding but will go away after a few days. If you are not breeding your gliders, this is also most likely not the problem. The third smell is produced by the anal gland in both males and females.

When a glider is afraid, they may express this anal scent gland and give off a pungent odor. Do you have other pets in your house that might be scaring your gliders? Do your gliders all live in the same cage, and if so, do they get along?

Other odors that can occur are from the urine. You are probably familiar with the smell of their urine, and if you are keeping their cage clean, this is most likely not the problem. If you are giving your gliders too many vitamin supplements, this can make their urine smell bad, so if you are doing this, cut down on the supplements and see if the problem resolves.

You are probably just smelling the sweet, musky odor that sugar gliders give off naturally.  If you think the odor is funky, it can be tricky to diagnose. If you think their diet is good and you keep their cage clean, try to evaluate whether or not you think they might feel threatened by something in the household. If you do have other pets, maybe try making their cage higher so they feel safer. If you notice your gliders do not get along, try separating them. See if any of this helps. If not, you might want to consider going to a vet to talk about other possibilities.

Comments

  1. mika says:

    Why do my sugar gliders always eat their poop? And also they always scratch their body?

    • admin says:

      Some animals, including sugar gliders, may eat their own poop to clean out their living space. If your gliders accidentally poop in their pouch or nesting box, they may eat the poop to keep their space clean. If they regularly eat their poop, it may be a sign of malnutrition or illness. I recommend seeing a vet to rule out any illnesses or parasites. You may want to try switching their diet and see if that helps.

      Sugar gliders may scratch at themselves while grooming, and that can be part of their normal grooming routine. Since you are having other issues with eating the poop, you should check for external parasites to see if you can see anything crawling around on your glider. You should also have your vet check your gliders poop for parasites.

  2. Marisol says:

    I need to know if I can bathe my sugar glider?

    • admin says:

      Sugar gliders groom themselves, so you do not need to bathe them. If something spills on your glider and your glider cannot clean it off itself, you can use a wet cloth to wipe it off or rinse with some warm water and pat dry. Keep them warm while you are drying them off, and make sure not to use a blow dryer because it would be too scary for them.

  3. Tony says:

    My sugar glider is not very active… at night… he is mostly in his pouch and only comes out when he is hungry… and when I give him to play with my sister… he’s like shaking and like he is drunk hitting stuff and walls… I am also a first time sugar glider owner.

    • admin says:

      You should get your glider to a vet as soon as possible for a wellness check. The behavior you have described could be signs of illness, so it would be best to have your glider examined by a professional.

  4. Aron says:

    I have an 11 month old female glider and I’ve been wearing her in the pouch around my neck but at night time when she does decide to get up which is late about 12am she wont let me pick her up. How do I play with her if I have such a difficulty getting her out of her cage? Also, where do I find treats other than fruit and veggies other than online??

    • admin says:

      Once you bond with her more, you will have an easier time handling her to play with her. Just give it time. You can get treats at a regular grocery store. Plain nuts or dried fruit make good treats. You can also try licky treats by putting a small amount of yogurt or honey on your finger.

    • pam says:

      U can try thepetglider.com sugargliderrus.com or exoticnutriton.com for sugar glider treats

  5. Hunter says:

    Hi im Hunter,im 10 yrs old and I have 3 males and 1 female and 2 new babys. They give off a really wierd smell,it may be the scent gland but I have 8 siblings so my dad wants to give them away.I love them but my parents hate the smell what do I do

    • admin says:

      The males are probably the ones that are giving off the smell. Are they neutered? If not, you should look into getting them neutered because it usually cuts down on the smell.

  6. Tammy says:

    Hi I’m a first time sugar glider owner. She is 1 1/2 years old. And can not figure out what to feed her and how much to keep her healthy. There’s also a strong musty odor that I smell all the time. I’m a very clean person and don’t like my house stinking! HELP. I also know there suppose to have calcium supplements veggies and fruits each day!! How much of each food each day I’m so confused and want to make sure she’s eating healthy! She’s making improvement with bonding!!

    • admin says:

      The musty odor is the natural sugar glider smell. Some smell stronger than others, and it may have to do with her diet. You can experiment with different diets to see if it helps alleviate the smell.

      Sugar gliders should get 50% protein, 25% fruits, and 25% vegetables. You don’t need to give them calcium supplements if you can get them enough calcium naturally through their diet. You must maintain a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1. I write about diet in detail in my book, the Sugar Glider Care Guide.

  7. erica says:

    Hi I’ve adopted a sugar glider from a previous owner about a year and a half ago. We assumed that she was a female because of the opening of a pouch in the middle of her stomach. But she does not like to be grabbed so it was hard to ever really examine it. We just adopted another female and introduced them to each other today. Everything seemed to be going smoothly but the old sugar glider would be rubbing her self onto the new gliders cage and even grabbing onto the new glider and rubbing herself on to her. And there was a round small like ball that was light pink coming out of her pouch which is making me a little concerned that she is in fact a male and were going to end up with joeys farther down the line so we are keeping them separatea. I read that there is a gland in the female pouch so do you believe that she was trying to spread her scent or that there is a good chance she is a he. lol Thanks for your time and help.

    • admin says:

      The best way to know for sure is to take your gliders to a vet to have them examined. If your glider is indeed male, then you will need to have him fixed to prevent breeding. Good luck!

  8. emily says:

    I want a sugar glider really bad. I just got a cage from someone and it stinks AWFUL. I tried putting baking soda at the bottom of the cage to reduce the odor but it didn’t work and i’m afraid the baking soda will harm the glider while he/she is in the cage. Is there a way to get rid of the smell before getting a glider? Is there an air freshener that is safe to use around animals ( we have several other small animals ) ?

    • admin says:

      You can use bleach on the cage, just make sure to rinse it off really well and let it dry in the sun if possible. I wouldn’t use any air fresheners that have chemicals around gliders.

  9. Hannah says:

    Why is My glider eating his own poo? He is about 5 months old. i think he is getting a proper diet. He has glider aid in the morning wich is his vitamin supplement and at night he gets lettuce, peas, carrots, Apple, chicken baby food, sunflower seeds, dead meal worms, and a little bitt of peach mango baby food.

    • admin says:

      This could be a sign of malnutrition or illness, so you it would be wise to visit a vet to rule out illness. Your vet is the best person to address this issue.

  10. Debbie says:

    We have a female sugar glider about 5 months old we just purchased a male 10 months and the odor is bad and I clean the cage everyday it was not like that until we got our male. I have order a spray that you put in their food to help with odor does it work?

  11. Carlos says:

    Hi I just got two female gliders a couple days ago and one of them is really calm and likes being out of the cage but the other is very “angry” and she makes the crabbing noise ALOT like non stop when we get close to her. Is this normal and if theres any way to get her to calm down? Thanks for your help!

  12. Raven says:

    I’m planning to have a sugar glider so I was looking for sites that could help me care for them more and I read the articles about sugar gliders and I was wondering what kind of climate suits them the most? Can they deal with too much cold or too much heat? What can I do to make them more comfortable in their cage? Can I put real plants inside their cage to mimic real life environment?

  13. Alex Lindsey says:

    We had my male suggie neutered to cut down on the musty smell at a cost of $146.00 and it has not helped one iota, except to make him fat as a little pig. Not happy about this, so would recommend not getting them “fixed” unless want don’t want them to breed.

  14. Diana says:

    Hi My name is Diana I am 19 yrs old. I am getting my suggie in 2 weeks because she is not fully weaned. I wanted to know if there were any sprays or anything to reduce the smell of the suggies urine or cage?
    Ive seen various online but am not sure if they are good for them. Also, i will be getting only one for now but inn the future will get her a companion. Does this mean i have to keep her with me 24/7. I can bring her some days to work but I cant always bring her with me???

    Thanks!

  15. hi i was wandering if u could help me please. i have 2 sugies that will no bond with me but love to play with my cats. At night every night my female will call my cats to the cage to paly with them but the male is so gruppy. He refuses to let me touch him or even her. i have had them for about a year now but i bought them from a teenager when they were about a year old and shehad gotten tired f them and put them outside on the porch. i do have them close to a window but abut 3 months ago i changed the toys around for them just so they dont get bored with them. I also put blankets over the top f their cage due to me having my bedroom so cold and don want all that cold area on them with changing the blankets about once a month and some times two months jus depending on the odor. The only time the male will come out is to eat with very little play. But with both sugies i have tried to bond with them and carry the ever where in a sac close to my heart. Both was very pieceful during the process but still not allowing me to handle them with out them bitting and fussing at me. I have lots of treats and i do give them to them every day many times a day with them taking the treats from my hand as they keep tryng to bite me the entire time. I have PSSST at them nicey and even gotten a little aggressive while doing it too but nothing helps. Well now i think i have been hearing a little one in there with them and ireally would like to bond with this one as early as possible so i can have at least one i can hold and love on. lol what am i doing so wrong…I also have my desk next to thei cage so that i can be close to them day and nght and talk to them all the time. Is their any hope with them now or anything else that i can try to help me help them.
    Thank you,
    Celeste

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