Q&A: Are Sugar Gliders Good With Kids?

Sugar Gliders And BabiesQ: My fiance and I have recently acquired 2 sugar gliders, one is 10 months and the other is 11 months. We got them given to us as a bonding pet for our baby that is due in June. Any advice as to get them bonding better with us because weve noticed they tend to bite now and again. It doesnt hurt or break skin but it wouldnt be good for our babies new ‘little friends’ to be biteing him.

Oh and another question about my cage. It’s about 3 – 3 1/2 feet tall, 2 feet long by 18 inches deep. Is that a good size for them?

A: This is an interesting question.  I have heard of sugar gliders bonding well with children, but I don’t know anything about babies.

What I do know is that there is no sure-fire way to make sure your gliders do not bite.  Gliders bite for different reasons, being out of fear or curiosity.  When they give you little nibbles, it is their way of checking you out (my sugar glider does this to me even after 5 years of bonding).  They will want to do this with a baby, I imagine.

Another thing I would be concerned about is that you cannot control what your baby does, either.  If your baby goes to grab the glider or does something frightening, the glider could bite your baby out of fear.  I would be more worried about this because this will be a hard bite.  Also, depending on how well you can groom your glider, I’d be afraid of their sharp nails.  If you are going to let the gliders crawl on your baby, your baby could get seriously scratched.

After having said this, I will say I don’t think it’s impossible to have a baby and sugar gliders at the same time.  But I would recommend you keep them separate at least until your baby is old enough to understand the dos and don’ts with sugar gliders.

Check out my post about bonding with sugar gliders.  I talk a lot about how I bonded with my glider and you can get ideas on how to bond with yours.  I have a single glider so my bonding experience will be a little different from yours, but in general the idea is the same.  The more time you spend with your gliders and interact with them, the better and faster you’ll bond with them.

I think for now, because your gliders are young, your cage is a fine size.  But in a couple of years, you might want to look into getting them something a little bigger, especially if they spend a lot of time in their cage.

I hope this is helpful.  Please keep us all updated on how it goes over with your gliders when your baby arrives.  Good luck!

Q&A: How do I get my sugar glider to play?

Sugar Glider PlayQ: I have a 9 month old male, got him at 6 months, he had never bonded with anyone. He gets up at about 8 pm and goes to bed at about 7 am. I keep him in my shirt pocket all day. When I get him out of my pocket he wants to go right back in, like he is shy. How do I get him to play?

A: Sugar gliders can be really timid.  I would keep encouraging your boy to get off your body and explore.  Do you have toys around that he can play with?  Are there things to climb on?  Try putting him somewhere where he can climb, like the curtains, and step away to let him explore.

If he tries to come back to you, take him off your body again.  Be persistent in this so he becomes more comfortable off your body.

One thing I do with my glider is put treats around the room for her to find while she plays.  I have a fake plant that she loves to climb, and I’ll put some treats in the pot for her to find.

Another thing you can try is getting a ball (usually made for hamsters) that you can put him in.  He can run around the house while feeling secure.  Some gliders like this and others don’t.  My sugar glider does not like being put in a ball because she’d rather explore, but if your boy is afraid, maybe he’ll feel safe in there to run around.

If you’re persistent in making your baby explore off your body, he should become more and more comfortable with it.  It will probably take time and patience, but when he starts to climb and play, it will be so much fun.

Q&A: Does it matter what age you are to own a sugar glider?

When To Get A Sugar GliderQ: I am thinking about getting a sugar glider, but I have some questions.  Do you need to get two gliders, because we went to a pet store and he said you need to get two, because apparently they could easily die of depression!

A: You do not need to get two gliders if you have enough time to devote to a single glider, but it is better to get two.  I have one sugar glider, but I have to spend a lot of time bonding with her.  Please read my advice for a first-time sugar glider owner, in which I discuss how to decide whether to get one or two gliders.

Q: Can you train them to stay on you, some say bonding is just having them with you is that true?

A: Yes, you can train them to stay with you, but you should also allow them time to play and explore the environment.  Please read my post on the best way to let your sugar glider out of the cage for more information.  Play time is also an important part of bonding.  Please read my post on sugar glider bonding for more information.

Q: Does it matter what age you are? I’m a sixth grader, but my parents think that I might not be responsible, what is the recommended age for owning one? Thanks a ton, brit

A: Sugar gliders can make great pets for people of all ages.  What I would ask a younger person such as yourself is how much are your parents willing to help?  Sugar gliders are definitely a large responsibility.  Not only do you need to have the proper finances for them (buying a glider, cage, paying for vet appointments and food), but you need to have the TIME for them.

As a 6th grader, your life is going to change a lot over the next 10-15 years, which is the lifespan for a sugar glider in captivity.  You need to be certain you are willing to commit to a glider for that long.  Your glider/s will need the proper time and attention to live a happy life.  Are you ready for this commitment?  Perhaps you can spend the next month evaluating how you spend your time and if you really would be able to wear/play with your glider as much as needed.

I’d like also to share with you my own decision to get a glider and how it has worked out for me over the last 5 years.  I was a student in college and I spent a lot of time (day and night) studying.  This was kind of lonely for me and I thought I could use a friend.  I got my sugar glider, and as I thought, she was a perfect companion.  I took her to class with me during the day while she slept, and at night she ran around my room while I studied.

Since I’ve had Pokey, I’ve worked at different jobs, changed my school schedule, and moved to a different state.  Even when my life changes, Pokey’s needs remain the same.  It was very hard on her when I started working full time.

If I didn’t know I’d be going back to school, I might have gotten her another sugar glider friend to keep her company.  Now I’m back in school and I have more time for her, but eventually I’m going to have to go back to work.  I believe at some point down the road, I will need to get her a friend.  It isn’t fair to leave her home for 9-10 hours a day with no company.

So, another thing I would ask you is do you see yourself being able to care for a single glider properly?  Or would it be better to have two gliders?  Two gliders may be double the responsibility, but if you don’t have to worry about always being able to wear your glider and play with it, might it be worth it to you to have two?

This is an important decision to make so I would think about it seriously before you make any decisions.  Talk with your parents some more about how much they are willing to help and what kind of things they expect from you.

Who is going to clean the cage?  Who will feed the gliders at night?  How will you get to the store to buy mealworms, fruit, vegetables, etc.?  Who is going to take the glider to the vet if necessary and pay for the bills?  I would say, with help from your parents, you should be able to care for a glider or gliders, but it might be a little too much responsibility on your own.

Please let me and the readers out there know what you decide, and how it goes.  Good luck!

UPDATE: I have recently added a second glider.  I did not have enough time to devote to my single glider and she became very lonely.  The biggest problem was when I had to travel, she would start over grooming from the stress and got a lot of bald spots.  I decided adding a second glider would be best, but it has not been easy bonding the two of them.  I am still going through the process and will be blogging about it.

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.

Q&A: What is the best way to pick up a sugar glider from the cage?

How To Pick Up A GliderQ: A friend of mine just gave me her sugar glider because she no longer had time for it. Now that I have him in my home, I am kind of scared to pick him up out of his cage because I’m afraid he will get away from me. What is the best way/time to pick them up out of their cages? I don’t want him to suffer from depression from not having enough bonding time, but I also don’t want to lose him. Is there anything you can suggest for my problem?

A: The best time for play is in the evening or at night. This is when your glider will naturally be waking up and ready to start his day. I usually like to allow my sugar glider some time in her cage after she wakes up before I let her out because she urinates and defecates quite a bit.

To pick your glider up, use a cupping motion with your hand and let the glider jump onto your hand.  It’s easier to let your glider cling onto you rather than trying to grab at your glider.

If this doesn’t work and your glider runs away from you, you can just wait until your glider goes into its pouch and take the pouch out and then kind of just turn the pouch inside out to get your glider to come out.

Before you’re ready to start play time, you need to decide if you want your sugar glider to mainly stay with you on your body or if you want him to have more freedom to explore. You might want to find out how your friend raised him to know what to expect of his habits.

If you want him to mainly stay with you, you need to pick him up and put him back on your body whenever he jumps off. If you do this enough, he will stop trying to get away from you. You can allow him off your body to play and with persistence, you can train him to come back to you when you call his name. You can do this by coaxing him with a treat.

If you want to allow him more freedom, you need to make sure your room is sugar glider proofed so that he cannot get out. I use weather stripping at the bottom of my doors to make sure my little girl can’t get out. Then, once you’re sure the room is secure, you can allow him to explore as he pleases.

He is going to want to climb anything he can, whether it be door frames or curtains. You should supervise his play time to make sure he stays safe. As you watch him explore, you will see what he can and cannot get into, such as drawers, your closet, floor vents (which you’ll want to close),
etc. If you keep a close eye on your glider, you should quickly figure out what kind of adjustments you need to make to keep your glider and your things safe.

Sugar gliders will urinate and defecate whenever and wherever they please, so be prepared to clean up after him whenever he is out for play time. Don’t be scared to let your little guy explore and be patient as you and him are both learning how to play together.

Q&A: Is it difficult to bond with an adult sugar glider?

Bonding With An Adult GliderQ: I am considering adopting an adult glider. A friend has one and wishes to give it to me. Will it be more difficult for it to bond than a baby. What other problems might I consider?

A: Bonding with an adult sugar glider is more difficult than bonding with a baby, but it is not impossible.  It takes more time and patience, but after a while, you should be able to form a strong bond with your glider.

If possible, try to get acquainted with the glider before you take it home.  Go to your friend’s place and wear the glider around your neck (close to your heart) for a short time each day before you bring it home with you.

It will be best to keep the cage the glider has been living in and leave it in the same condition as it was before bringing it to your place.  The glider may experience some depression or withdrawal from its previous home, but as it becomes more comfortable with you, the bonding process will become easier.

Each glider is different, so everything will depend on the glider’s personality.  My glider loves exploring new surroundings, but other gliders might be afraid of new surroundings.  As long as you provide a safe and stable environment for your glider and give it enough attention, you will be able to bond and have yourself a loyal, wonderful pet!

Q&A: Sugar Glider Bonding, Diet, Weight, and Toys

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