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Sugar Glider FAQ (2/4) - Introduction

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Archive-name: pets/sugar-gliders/part2
Last-modified: 26 Jul 1995
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Version: 1.1

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Sugar Glider FAQ [2/4] - About this FAQ
Compiled & Maintained by Tim Hussey
This document is copyright 1995 by Tim Hussey and Ruth Grove.

Subject: TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. **** General Information **** (1.1) What is a Sugar Glider, anyway? (1.2) Do Sugar Gliders make good pets? (1.3) What does a Sugar Glider look like? (1.4) What noises do Sugar Gliders make? (1.5) Do Sugar Gliders give off any scents? 2. **** Obtaining a Pet Sugar Glider **** (2.1) Where can I find a Sugar Glider to purchase? (2.2) What should I look for? (2.3) Baby Sugar Gliders versus Adults (2.4) Wild-caught versus Captive-Breed (2.5) Should I keep more than one Sugar Glider? (2.6) Will Sugar Gliders get along with other pets?
Subject: (1.1) What is a Sugar Glider, anyway? Sugar Gliders (petarurus breviceps) are small, arboreal marsupials which originate from New Guinea and Southern Australia. As their common name entails, they possess a gliding membrane (similar to that of the flying squirrel¹s) that stretches from their wrists to their ankles and allows them to Œglide¹ from tree to tree. As with all marsupials, female sugar gliders also possess a pouch, in which they raise their young. Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals which spend almost their entire live in trees. In the wild, they live in colonies of between 6-10 gliders and spend much of their time foraging for food.
Subject: (1.2) Do Sugar Gliders make good pets? Sugar Gliders make excellent pets. They adapt very readily to captivity and can develop very strong relationships with their human keepers. They are small in size, are very intelligent and love to play. They are much smarter than a hamster or rat and have a much longer life-span, most living to be 10 or older if taken care of properly. Although nocturnal, I found this to be a benefit, in that they want to play in the evening, which is the only time I'm really home. Most gliders, if handled well and given time, learn their owner(s) scent(s) and have absolutely no fear of them. In fact, they love human attention. For me, the first attraction was that they are just darn cute. The second was the strong bonds that they develop with their owners.
Subject: (1.3) What does a Sugar Glider look like? Sugar gliders grow to about 5-6 inches in length (excluding their long tails) and have long, bushy tails which they use for balance and can easily be the length of the body or longer. Their fur is usually grey/silver with white bellies and a black stripe which extends from the tops of their heads to the end of their tails. Males develop bald spots at the base of their heads after reaching maturity [1.5]. They have fairly large, pointy ears and large black eyes. Their face is similar to that of a possum¹s or a bat's. Presently, pictures can be seen at Ruth Grove's Sugar Glider page at and hopefully soon at mine, also.
Subject: (1.4) What noises do Sugar Gliders make? These cute marsupials, in so far as I can tell make 4 distinct noises. The first is the 'get away from me or I'm gonna bite you' noise. This has been described as sounding similar to a miniature chainsaw or electric pencil sharpener. My friends and I have taking to calling this 'crabbing'. You may hear this noise a lot at first, but after a month you will learn what's they like and they don't and you may never hear this again (hopefully). The second is a happy chirp, which they make when excited or happy. The third is a quieter chirp which I have yet to find a purpose behind (other than simple communication). The fourth noise is a loud sharp barking. I believe this is some sort of call for other sugar gliders or just for attention from human owners. Unfortunately, this can be very annoying, in that I've been woken up more than my fair share by this barking. There is a .wav file of this barking at my glider homepage. Oddly enough, my male glider tends to do this more often during the period of a full moon.
Subject: (1.5) Do Sugar Gliders give off any scents? The main odor given off by gliders is the usual waste smell, but it's not strong at all and if their cage is kept clean, you will never smell anything. I should mention here, however, that the males do give off an odor before mating. While not really bad, it is a distinct odor, and may take over a room for a week or two. Gliders are very dependent upon their excellent senses of smell to identify other gliders, as well as their owners. Male gliders have two scent glands which they use for marking -- one is located on their belly and the other on the top of their head (which accounts for the bald spot). When males grow accustomed to their surroundings, they will mark objects by rubbing their bellies back and forth upon the object. They will also mark any females in their colony by rubbing the female's chin with their head.
Subject: (2.1) Where can I find a Sugar Glider to purchase? Lately, Sugar Gliders are becoming easier to locate because of their popularity. However, if you don't live near a big city, it may be difficult. I would suggest obtaining a pet related magazine, such as the Exotic Market Review, and finding a breeder as near as you as possible. The standard going price for a sugar glider (in my experience is around $200-300 for males and $250-$400 for females Mammals are also relatively expensive to ship, so if you can find a breeder within driving of your location distance, this is your best bet. Also try newspapers -- this is how I located one of my gliders and works much better than one might realize. I am currently trying to a list of breeders, so if you have one you would like to be added, please e-mail me and let me know. The breeder's info will only be given out to individuals whom are sincerely interested and I will try to cut distances as much as possible.
Subject: (2.2) What should I look for? The best way to answer this is just to use common sense. You want an animal that is active and will tolerate handling. Signs of good health can be seen through bright, black eyes and a muscular build. If there is any doubt about the quality or health of the animal, don't buy it. A federal license is required in the US in order to sell baby gliders, so also make sure your breeder is an exotic pet license with the US Dept. of Agriculture [6.8]. If the breeder is not licensed, don't waste your time.
Subject: (2.3) Baby Sugar Gliders versus Adults Baby gliders are always preferable to adult, but sometimes availability (and your wallet) can make them difficult to obtain. Babies are preferable because they will be more willing to bond with you. Plus, the bond with a baby glider you have raised will always be stronger than a bond developed with an adult. Adults can come around, but if they haven't been handled much, it can be an uphill battle.
Subject: (2.4) Wild-caught versus Captive-Breed It is always preferable to have a captive-breed glider over one that was wild-caught. If a glider has always had food come from a human hand, it will consequently be much tamer. Most wild-caught gliders will not tolerate handling and have brownish fur, as a result of staining. Also, wild-caught gliders are much more subseptible to vitamin defeciencies while in captivity [7.2].
Subject: (2.5) Should I keep more than one Sugar Glider? It is also preferable to keep more than one glider together. In the wild, they are community animals and they seem to be much healthier and happier while in groups in captivity. For breeding purposes, it is best to keep one male with two females. Gliders readily adapt to one another's presence and will easily become best of friends.
Subject: (2.6) Will Sugar Gliders get along with other pets? As a result of being aboreal, gliders have practically no fear of any land-dwelling creature. You will have more trouble with your other pets not liking your glider than vice-versa. Basically, it all depends on your other pet's disposition(s). ------------------------------ == End of Part 2 == -- - Tim Hussey e-mail: Gliding the Web Homepage URL: -- See my Sugar Glider & Gecko Homepages: Got gliders? email me...

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