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So, you want a Sugar Glider...
If you are planning on getting a sugar glider, please do your research first. These animals require specialized care that you need to be aware of before you bring them home. Please keep in mind this is not intended to be an all-inclusive article. It simply touches on the various aspects of sugar glider ownership you need to be aware of, and continue to research, before buying a sugar glider.
What is a Sugar Glider-
The sugar glider (Petaurus Brevicep) is a nocturnal marsupial from the southern pacific. Although they resemble the native flying squirrel, they are not rodents. They both have patagiums (gliding membranes), but that is the only resemblance.
How much do they cost-
The pricing for sugar gliders varies greatly. Prices depend on the gender, if you are going to breed them or have them as pets only, lineage, and the breeder. Gliders can be obtained at no cost and go up to $5,000.00 each. As a general rule, please remember that sugar gliders are colony animals and will be happier if kept in pairs of two. Larger colonies are possible if they are properly introduced and all get along together.
Where to buy-
So, you've decided that you're going to get a pair of gliders. Let's take a look at the average amount of money you will need to get started. Keep in mind, these are general figures, you can get cheaper, and you can definitely spend a lot more.
2 standard grey gliders, pet only, $200 each - $400
1 Large cage - $150
1 Wheel - $50
3 Cage sets, $30 each - $90
Toys - $50
Food - $30
Wellness Exam - $50 per glider - $100.00
With the minimum requirements listed above, you need approximately $900 just to get started with your first pair of sugar gliders. If you purchase a well-made cage, it will last you a very long time. Cheaper cages will need to be replaced as they start to rust or bars break loose. Cage sets and toys are an ongoing expense as they will wear out, regardless of how well they are made. Food is an ongoing expense as you will need to replenish it on a regular basis.
Please keep in mind this is not an inclusive list of what is needed when owning a sugar glider. It is highly recommended to have an emergency medical kit, an emergency vet fund (before the need arises) extra cage sets, bonding pouches, and extra toys, among other things.
The best place to buy or adopt a sugar glider is from a hobby or USDA licensed breeder. Research the breeder you are interested in buying from to ensure they have good breeding standards and ethics. Make sure you have ongoing support from your breeder. Most reputable breeders feel they have an obligation to their joeys, even after they have gone to their forever homes. Being USDA licensed does not ensure that someone is a reputable breeder. Prices are also not an indication of a good breeder. To find a listing of breeders, please visit Sugar Glider Help.
Places you should avoid purchasing a sugar glider from are malls, pet shops, flea markets, expos, and trade-shows. A reputable breeder or rescue organization will not subject their sugar gliders to impulse buyers. These types of places are prime locations for mill breeders and mill brokers to sell their gliders. Glider mills and brokers prey on the impulse buyers and rely on these types of sales to remain in business.
Sugar gliders end up in rescue homes every day. Some of these gliders are perfectly healthy, and some require physical and emotional rehabilitation prior to placement. These special babies need forever loving homes. If you are considering a sugar glider, please look into adopting a rescue. Some are free, some require a re-homing and/or shipping fee. Be prepared to go through a very extensive interview process. Sugar gliders are only placed into approved homes and are matched appropriately to their new owners.
Sugar gliders can live up to 10-15 years in captivity. Owning a sugar glider is a long term commitment that should not be taken lightly.
Do you have time-
Sugar gliders require a lot of personal time. Depending on the number of gliders you have, you will need to spend about a half an hour one to two times a month making their diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables will need to be cut up each night or every couple of nights.
Are they good pets for children-
Cages need to be cleaned on a regular basis. How often you clean cages depends on how many gliders you have in the cage. Typically you can remove and clean the contents of the cage one week, and clean the actual cage the next week. The drop pan should be cleaned on a daily basis.
Gliders are very social animals and require human interaction. Plan on spending a minimum of a few hours per day with your gliders. This includes bonding and play time.
No, sugar gliders are not an ideal pet for young children. Sugar gliders move quickly and can easily be injured or lost if it is dropped by a child. Sugar gliders, even well-bonded and friendly gliders, will bite. Being nocturnal, they will be asleep during the day making them a boring pet for kids.
Are they good with my other pets-
Sugar gliders can coexist in the same household with other pets. It is NOT recommended to allow them to interact together. Allowing your sugar glider to "play" with other pets can be fatal for your sugar glider. Accidents can happen in an instant due to the prey instinct of cats and dogs.
Sugar gliders need to live in a stress-free, healthy environment. Since they are nocturnal and sleep during the day, they need a relatively quiet area. Normal household noises are acceptable. There should be no toxins or chemicals in their environment. Avoid aerosol sprays and insecticides near their cage and play areas. Sugar gliders need a temperature controlled environment. Do not place cages in direct drafts, such as close to windows, doors, or HVAC vents. Ambient temperatures should not be below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sugar gliders require specialized diets with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a protein source, calcium supplement, and insects make up their diet. There are various recommended diets, which are prepared at home. Most of the ingredients can be purchased locally at a grocery store and pet store. Some diets require ingredients that must be purchased on-line. Do your own research, talk with your breeder and veterinarian about the various diets, and decide which is best for you and your gliders. A listing of diets can be found on Sugar Glider Help.
Sugar gliders require a very large cage in relation to their size. The smallest cage for a pair of gliders would be 18x30x36 inches. Larger cages are generally better. Some gliders prefer taller cages, and some prefer wider, find a cage that fits in your budget and your home that will allow your glider(s) plenty of space to run. Cages can not have bar spacing any larger than one-half inch; anything larger and the glider can squeeze through the bars and escape. Gliders need cages large enough to provide an enriching atmosphere while still allowing room to run and jump. Allow them enough interactive toys to keep their minds working, but over-stuffing a cage with toys is not recommended.
Many people build their own cages. Links for the supplies can be found on Sugar Glider Help.
Sugar gliders require daily human interaction. They should be taken out of their cages every day and played with in a glider-safe play area, such as a playroom or tent. The recommended out of cage playtime varies, but 30 minutes to an hour in a safe area should be sufficient. Sugar gliders play in short bursts. If they are still running around and playing after that time frame, let them play until they have decided its time to go back into the cage.
The initial bonding process can be very time consuming. The bonding process will depend on the gliders personality and willingness to accept its new human companion as part of its colony. Bonding is a very important part of owning a sugar glider. You glider will become bonded to you and may come to the side of its cage and bark for your attention. They thrive on interaction.
There are various bonding techniques to use with sugar gliders. Patience is a very important part of the bonding process. Take things at the gliders pace so you don't rush the glider. Rushing can actually set back the process. Talk with your breeder to determine how they recommend bonding with your new glider. A good breeder will know the gliders personality and be able to give you excellent advice.
Most gliders also love to be in a bonding pouch or bra during the day with their owner. If you work in an environment that would not be glider-safe, please leave them home during that time. You can always put them in a pouch when you get home, then take them out for playtime later.
Before you get your glider, make sure you have at least two veterinarians lined up. In the event you need a vet, one may not be in so you'll need to have a back-up.
All veterinarians do not see sugar gliders, please don't assume that the veterinarian that cares for you dog will also care for your sugar glider.
At least one of these veterinarians should be a 24-hour emergency veterinarian. Because sugar gliders are nocturnal, you will typically notice an issue after normal business hours. An emergency veterinarian is critical in times like these. Please keep in mind, once you notice your sugar glider is ill, it has likely been hiding its illness for a few days. It is their natural instinct to hide their illnesses. Because of this, all illnesses are emergencies for sugar gliders and need to get to a veterinarian immediately.
If you notice an injury on your sugar glider, this also is an emergency. A veterinarian visit is critical. You should only take the time to utilize items in your emergency medical kit to stabilize your sugar glider, and rush to the vet immediately. Your emergency kit is not a substitute for proper veterinarian care. Never try to diagnose and treat your own sugar glider.
You should have an emergency vet fund available. This can be in the form of a credit card, savings account, credit terms with your veterinarian, or pet insurance. You should have this set up before the need arises.
If you plan on breeding your sugar gliders, it is first recommended that you do a lot of research and that you own them for a minimum of a year. You should understand the daily needs, behaviors, personalities, how to bond and what to do in an emergency among other things before you consider breeding. Again, discussing this with your breeder should provide you with more information.
Are you ready-
Make sure your gliders are genetically compatible. Your breeder should be able to help you with this. In the beginning years of breeding gliders for special colors, inbreeding and line-breeding was done to build the lines. This is no longer necessary. Sugar gliders without lineage should not be bred. Sugar gliders are shipped all over the United States, and without lineage, there is no way to determine if they are related or not.
You need to be prepared for the possibility of rejected and/or cannibalized joeys. Although not common, there are times when joeys are rejected or cannibalized without any outward evidence as to the cause. Both of these issues are very difficult to deal with emotionally for you and your gliders.
Many joeys have been successfully hand-raised. This is very difficult on the owner both physically and emotionally. Please take the time to read the articles on breeding, rejected joeys, and hand-raising a glider on SuzSugarGliders.
If you think you are ready to begin your journey of owning these marvelous marsupials, please continue your research. Here are some excellent sources:
Sugar Glider Help
The Glider Initiative
If you feel your glider is sick, please seek immediate veterinary assistance. The information on this page and in the correlating articles is for general educational purposes and is not intended to replace proper vet care. Please do not try to self-diagnose or self-treat your glider.
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Max Online: 478 @ 07/15/07 01:24 AM
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