By John Downing, The Pet Glider
These little marsupials have become one of the most popular exotic pets around. Originally found in the tree tops of Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia and Papua-New Guinea, sugar gliders immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s. They came over with some industrious Americans who fell in love with their engaging personalities, big beautiful eyes and their love of the night (they play at night, sleep during the day). The taxonomic name is Petaurus breviceps but that is really hard to pronounce and kind of boring. The common name of Sugar Gliders is much more fun and comes from their love of sweet foods and a gliding membrane that allows them to have fun gliding short distances.
In the wild, sugar gliders are grey with black stripes on their backs and heads. These are classic colored gliders. Breeding in captivity has produced an astonishing variety of colored gliders. These colors range from sold white with garnet eyes to gliders with ringtails to light silvery platinum gliders and mosaics that are varying degrees of gray and white. The United States breeders are leading the way in producing unique and beautiful colored gliders and there are several websites that showcase the different colors of these awesome pets.
Sugar gliders can be highly interactive, genuinely enjoyable pets. They are quite capable recognizing their human friends and bonding for life with their caretakers. They are fairly easy to take care of; however, there are a few points to consider. These delightful creatures live up to 15 years, so be ready for a long-term commitment. They need a fairly large cage and it should be located in an active part of your house or apartment. Sugar Gliders are very meticulous groomers, priding themselves on staying clean. They can be excitable eaters, however, so some cleaning of their cages after meals from time to time would be a good idea. They appreciate hanging toys, as well as bird and child safe toys, along with glider-safe wheels to run in. They sleep in fabric pouches and those will need to be changed and washed regularly. And most importantly, sugar gliders are very social animals, so all good breeders will recommend you buy them in pairs. They do much better with a cage mate.
The most time consuming favor you will do for your sugar glider will be preparing their food. They require fresh fruit, fresh veggies and protein on a daily basis. This can be made in advance and frozen in individual servings. In addition, sugar gliders raised in captivity must have additional vitamins with calcium incorporated into their food; either by mixing it in the food or sprinkling the vitamins on top. Some type of staple food should be in the cage at all times such as high protein cereal. And sugar gliders love, and I mean really love, live mealworms. Don’t be squeamish, because the first time you see them pick one up with their little hands and munch, you will be hooked.
When considering whether to add one or scoop or two of sugar (gliders) to your life, research the potential breeders you’ll be contacting. Unfortunately, there are mill breeders and breeders who set up in malls who are more interested in profit than in the health of their gliders. With just a little bit of research, however, you can locate the breeders who truly pamper their sugar gliders, and who can provide you with the information and support you need to sweeten your pet owning experience.