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.