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.