Some of the most commonly asked questions from people interested in gliders
What do you feed a sugar glider?
Sugar Gliders are omnivores in the wild and need a variety of different things in their captive diet with extra calcium being very important. Metabolic Bone Disease (Hind Leg Paralysis) has been found in gliders that are not being provided with enough calcium supplement since they don't get all that they require from the foods they eat. On the other end of the spectrum gliders can die from Calcium overdose if too much is used. so following a diet that has calculated the proper ratios for you is important for your gliders optimal health. There are also specific ratios of protein that should be met and the consideration that NO pellet diet out there is going to properly cover ALL of their nutritional requirements, feeding a varied fresh diet is the only way to achieve this. Because of these special considerations, winging it and just offering them a variety of healthy foods isn't really in their best interest as a proven diet specifically designed for them is always going to cover their nutritional needs much better. We all want our gliders to live the longest healthiest lives possible, so be sure to feed them right and you will be well on your way.
There are many different glider diets being used and recommended in glider communities, with 3 long tested and proven successful being the most popular and easiest. These are The Pet Glider (TPG) which we have used and recommended for almost 15 years, Bourbons Modified Leadbetters (BML) and Original High Protein Wombaroo (OHPW). There are a number of reasons that we have used and stayed with TPG after trying the others. Firstly, It doesn't contain honey and in the dozens of senior gliders I have had, I have never had a single issue with their teeth but have seen lots of other long term owners discussing teeth issues which they worry might be related to the large amounts of honey in their diet. TPG uses a mammal multivitamin as opposed to reptile vitamins, and with sugar gliders being mammals, it's a better option for them. TPG is simple enough that a child can make it, and other then the vitamin supplement, the ingredients are at your local grocery store and don't need to be shipped to make the actual food itself. Lastly both my gliders and I enjoy the variety of fruits and vegetables that can be offered. I have used everything from Apples to Zucchini and everything in between for the gliders food and they love it all. With such a huge variety to offer I feel confident that they are getting well rounded nutrition from essential vitamins and minerals and I know that they enjoy having so many different options.
Can I make my fruits and vegetables into a smoothie?
Personally I wouldn't, there are some articles written that sugar gliders have problems digesting the insoluble fibers when the food is broken down in a blender smoothie style (not chopped small), as shown in this quote
"When you force them to eat the insoluble fiber from their veggies you are inhibiting the absorption of the vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals that is in what you're feeding. Insoluble fiber gets passed through them before any of the good stuff gets a chance to break down to be absorbed."
Do I have to feed my glider bugs?
It's not something that you HAVE to do, but they will love you for it. A great bonding tool with new gliders is to use Mealworms fed by hand. Most go crazy for them and it's a safe and healthy treat that will help you gain their trust. The quickest way to a glider's heart is often through their stomach!
Can Sugar Gliders be kept alone?
Sugar Gliders are colony animals by nature and do not live solitary lives. For the sake of their mental health and to prevent issues they should always be kept in at least pairs. For those reading on the internet that lone gliders are fine, consider yourself with only a dog to hang out and talk with for the rest of your life, never to set eyes on another human. That dog will be happy to spend every waking minute with you, but you may go crazy not spending time with another human being who speaks your language. We will not adopt our joeys out to anyone who intends to keep them alone, no matter how much time they may have to spend with them.
Do gliders need an external heat source like a heat rock or lamp?
No, as long as your joey is over 8 weeks old it will NOT need any extra heat provided in the cage. When joeys are young and nursing they use their parents to keep warm as they can't yet thermoregulate their own body temperature. If a joey leaves its parents too soon it will need an external heat source to keep warm, so steer clear of anyone recommending this with their new joey as it is likely too young to leave the parents and could have serious issues if it does.
What size cages do sugar gliders need?
Sugar gliders require a very large cage to live comfortably, with height being most important as they like to climb and dive down onto things and sleep and eat high up where they feel safer. Being arboreal creatures this simulates they way they live in the trees gliding down from great heights. Recommend cage size should be no less then 3ft high (the taller the better) and around 18"x24" deep/wide. It should be noted that it is VERY important to make sure that the bar spacing is absolutely no more then 1/2 inch as even the slightest bit bigger (like a fraction of an inch) will likely allow them to escape. Suitable cages in Canada can be tricky to find as most taller cages are for large birds and the bar spacing is too big or ones with smaller bar spacing are not big enough to house gliders. Because of this, some people choose to order online (watch those shipping charges) or make their own cages.
Can I make my own cage for my gliders?
Lots of people choose to make their own cages, doing this means that they can get the specific size and dimensions that they want. If making your own cage avoid using wood or metal mesh as many of them can be toxic and eventually lead to the death of your gliders. The best materials for building cages is PVC piping (Home Depot sells grey plastic electrical conduit in 10' lengths that work well) and plastic mesh, also known as Hardware Mesh (this can be found at Home Depot in the garden fencing section). You can find tutorials online with building plans like the one linked. Keep in mind that these cages do tend to hold the smell a little more after a time as the plastic does absorb it. They can also be more costly to build then one might expect averaging $100+ for a decent size. The PVC 3-way fittings can also be tricky to find in Canada and are used mostly in green house gardening, not your typical plumbing departments.
Coated wire mesh linen/laundry shelving has also been used successfully to make cages. Just be sure it has 1/2" spacing like this here Mesh Shelf. It can be trickier to cut and make doors for and is quite heavy when it comes to cleaning, but there are people that use them and it is safe. You can find pictures on Pintrest and a few YouTube videos for them.
What does my glider need in it's cage?
Wheels are the number one most important thing that we will ever put into our gliders cage (other then food and water of course, lol). Having a glider safe, time tested, reliable wheel is paramount to a gliders health and well being. In the wild sugar gliders are tirelessly moving about foraging for food which keeps them fit and provides excellent exercise. In captivity we need to provide them with a safe wheel so that they have something they can use to burn up energy and stay fit and active, keeping them healthy. Safe wheels for sugar gliders cannot be found in your average pet store. Sugar gliders have a very different gait then the average small animal, they leap and jump rather then just run. Partner that with their long curling tail and patagium (gliding membrane) and you have a recipe for disaster in a typical wheel. Over a decade ago a few Sugar glider enthusiasts started working on safe alternatives after countless injuries from Pet store variety wheels. These wheels are not mass produced in factories, but made by hand from sugar glider vendors. Wheels from makers like SpinZone Global sold HERE in Canada and My Glider Wheels and More, Custom Choice Cruisers in the US are known to last nearly the life of your glider so it is a worthwhile investment, since you should likely only have to do it once.
Other then a wheel you'll want to make sure that you have a sleeping pouch or 2 in the cage at all times as they like to nestle up to sleep. A few enriching toys to rotate in your cage as gliders are especially smart and enjoy a challenge when playing. There are lots of great plastic bird or toddler toys that work well, making your own toys can be a lot of fun or purchasing pre-made glider toys like these HERE When buying toys (especially bird toys) make sure that there are no ropes or strings as those are very easy for toes/limbs/tails to get caught up in and cause injury. Toys hanging from ropes can be replaced with braided fleece for safety. Having hammocks or bridges for them to hang out on, eat a treat or take a break is a good idea.
What do I put on the bottom of my cage?
Ideally you will have a cage with a grated bottom and drop pan for anything (food, waste, etc) to fall through for easy cleaning. Some people keep commercial products like equine pellets or yesterdays news (paper pellets) in the bottoms because they find that it helps reduce smell (it may or may not). You can also use a piece of fleece that you remove and wash regularly or keep them empty and just wipe them out daily. I find that newspaper works quite well for easy removal every couple of days and less work with cleanup. NEVER use wood shavings (there are a couple of kiln dried brands that are said to be ok, but I personally wouldn't risk it) as many can be toxic to gliders and could cause respiratory issues.
Can gliders be potty trained?
Sugar Gliders are arboreal and living in trees means that their instinct is to just let things fall whenever they need to go. You need to realize that there will be constant little messes to clean up from them and they will even make a point of urinating on you to mark you as their own. Like us, when they awake from sleeping they usually need to potty very soon, so it is possible to get them used to going on a paper towel or over the sink if you pull them directly from their cage and hold them over something while they wake up and go. This is something you will want to wait until you are bonded with your glider to try so that they don't run from you. Keep in mind though, that while out playing they will still need to potty sporadically and you won't usually be given any notice, so in most cases they are going to make messes throughout the area they are playing in.
Are gliders expensive to keep?
The initial set up for your gliders (Cage, water bottle, food dishes, wheel, cage sets, toys) can be costly and you want to have at least a few hundred dollars on hand to get set up. Once you are though, food costs are relatively inexpensive and other then being sure to have an emergency vet fund on hand, you can expect to spend less then $50 a month to house a pair of gliders.
Is a sugar glider a rodent?
No, they are not. A sugar glider is a Marsupial that carries their young in a pouch like a Koala Bear, Kangaroo or the Tasmanian Devil.
What does OOP mean?
OOP means the date that they come Out Of Pouch, or basically their birthday. Sugar gliders are marsupials and birth a live embryo at about 16 days after conception. This embryo then wiggles it's way up the mothers stomach on a path that she has licked from her cloaca to her pouch. Once inside the pouch they latch onto a nipple and continue to nurse and grow inside it for approximately 63 days. After the 64 days you will generally notice them laying outside of the mothers pouch and off of the nipple on occasion as she goes to eat and play for short periods. The first day that this happens would be their Out Of Pouch date. Some mothers do tuck them back in (especially with singles) for a while after as long as they will fit. At about 10 days after their OOP date, their eyes will open.
Do sugar gliders smell?
The short answer is YES they do. Although sugar gliders themselves don't really have that much of an odor, their enclosures are going to give off a smell as they do mark their territory. Most people find it relatively mild in comparison to most other small animals and as long as you are regularly keeping the bottom of the cage clean and wiping down cage bars and wheels every few days it shouldn't be too noticeable for most people.
DO MALES OR FEMALES MAKE BETTER PETS?
Each glider is unique and sex doesn't play into their personalities so it makes no difference as long as your male is neutered in a male/female pairing.
Do sugar gliders need to go to the vet?
While sugar gliders don't require yearly vaccinations like cats or dogs, they should be going to the vet for a regular health check. It is also in their best interest to have an Emergency Vet Fund set aside as most times when something seems wrong with your glider it will require immediate attention and is likely going to be after regular clinic hours. Sugar gliders hide their illnesses and issues very well, so by the time we usually notice something is wrong with them they may have very little time to get help before it is too late. Making sure that you have an Emergency Vet Clinic lined up that will treat sugar gliders is very important, as not all vets will see them.
Do gliders have to be spayed/neutered?
A male and female sugar glider regardless of family relation will breed if housed together, which could result in defects due to inbreeding. Because of this all males should be neutered if housed with a related female. Neutering males can also help with aggression, territorial issues and scent marking.
Female gliders are not spayed unless absolutely necessary in a life and death situation due to the complexity of their reproductive system. Performing a spay on a female glider is too dangerous for it to be done simply to prevent having offspring.
What is self mutilation and why does it happen?
Self Mutilation is when a glider will actually harm itself due to stress, boredom, injury or pain. Some gliders will start to over groom themselves from stress or boredom which can eventually lead to self mutilation.
If a glider gets a limb, toe or tail caught in something that they can't get out of, they are very likely to chew themselves free. This is why it is so important to check your cage daily for loose strings or anything else that they can get stuck on and to be using safe materials like fleece for inside cage pouches. Also having cage items that have been properly sewn (minimal stitch spacing that a toothpick can't get under) from vendors that specialize in glider safety is extremely important to prevent injuries. Be sure to very carefully check anything that you buy that doesn't specifically come from reputable glider vendors for safety issues, as most other small animals don't have the same concerns.
If a glider experiences pain from surgery (such as a neuter) or internal pain (such as a bacterial infection or urinary tract infection) they may chew at themselves thinking it will relieve the pain, only to damage themselves severely and in worst cases cause their death.
These links have more information on SM and help for dealing with it. An E-Collar is your first defense and every glider owner should be sure to have one just in case.
Are sugar gliders noisy?
They can be. Some gliders may bark (others may never), and crab at each other. Depending on the toys that are in the cage they might be ringing bells or jumping and running. They aren't loud enough that they are likely to disturb your neighbors, but for some having them in a cage in their bedroom isn't an option due to their noises.
Do sugar gliders bite?
They certainly can and it can be quite the nasty bite if they decide to chomp down hard. In most cases a hand tame glider is only going to lunge at you and not actually bite down, or if they do it will be more of a nip. They may do this if startled or scared. If a glider is extremely scared, or being aggressive they are more likely to bite down hard and break the skin. Their teeth are LONG so a hard bite from a glider is going to go deep and hurt like heck.
How do I play with my gliders?
The best and safest way to start playing with new gliders is in a tent. While you can use a glider proofed room (many start in the bathroom) a small tent space is going to help your gliders bond with you much quicker and learn to trust you even faster then an open space would. Within a tent there isn't much for them to explore and this means that their focus will be on you. Gliders are extremely curious and in a larger space like a room, they may be busy trying to check out everything but you, so it can seriously slow down the trust/bonding process. Ideally the time you put in with a tent will mean that you can bond them to you that much sooner and walk around the house trusting that they will stay out of trouble or come back to you when prompted.
Will my sugar glider be cuddly?
There are no guarantees. Most gliders once they trust you are happy to snuggle with you in your hand or pocket while they are asleep. For some they will hang out on your shoulder while they are awake. For the most part though, when a glider is awake it will want to be running around and playing, not sitting still with you in your hand. There is the odd glider who has no interest in hanging out with their human and will prefer to keep to themselves or their glider buddy. They each have their own unique personalities.
Can I keep them in my pocket like I see in pictures and videos?
Gliders when sleeping will be happy to be in a pocket once they are used to you. Be sure that if they are not bonded to you that you have them in a safe space in case they wake up and jump out of the pocket. People have lost them in shopping malls and other places thinking that they would stay put and not run off, when this is not the case. Keep in mind though that this is usually only when they are sleeping, if awake your glider is likely to be running around crazy.
Can I play with them outside?
This is NEVER advisable. While you do see it on pictures and videos, the risks far out way you wanting to take them out to play (especially in the sunlight when they are nocturnal and it is hard on their eyes). Even a well bonded glider when startled is not always guaranteed to come straight back to their owner for safety and may bolt for the closest tree. There are so many variables when it comes to the outdoors that it's just too dangerous. There is also a risk of prey birds/animals having access to them and watching your glider being lifted off by a bird of prey would not be easy to stomach.
What is bonding and how do I know if my gliders are bonded to me?
Bonding is the time you spend getting your gliders to trust you. Since sugar gliders are still somewhat wild animals and newly domesticated, it is not yet encoded in them like it is with cats and dogs to just love and trust us. Because of this we have to put in time and patience to win them over with our affection and understanding. They may be nervous and unsure of being our friend but, give them time (and treats, lol) to get them to come around and eventually most of them will. By carrying them around in a Bonding Bag or Bonding Scarf during the day while they are sleeping you can get them used to your scent, voice and movements. This goes a long way to forging a bond. At night when they are awake, playing with them in a tent (feather teasers work well for this) and coercing them to come to you for treats helps to move the process along. Eventually your gliders will start coming to you on their own and seem to enjoy spending time being with you as their focus. A good indicator that they have bonded to you is if something startles them and they choose to run to you for protection. This tells you that they have developed trust in you to be their safety zone and this is the best that we as their keepers can ask for. One thing to note is that some gliders will bond quickly within weeks, some months others could take years or not ever be interested in bonding at all. It can be a slow process but will be worth the effort in the long run.
Can gliders bond with more then 1 person or can an adult glider bond with me?
Absolutely, while some gliders do play favorites with their humans if they are interested in interacting, then everyone in the family can get to be friends. Some just mesh better with certain personalities, so you might find that they like you or another member of the family more. Even gliders that are much older and have been rehomed can eventually bond with new owners, some faster then others, you just need to take the time to work with them.
I have cats/dogs other pets in my house, is that ok?
As long as serious precautions are taken, yes. Counter to what you may read on other websites (many put out by Pocket Pets to encourage sales to anyone regardless if they are the right pet for them), sugar gliders and other pets are often a dangerous mix. Cats and dogs may very well see your glider as something to eat, or even just play with, which could cause severe harm. Either way it often ends in disaster even when they are properly introduced and things seem fine. These are animals and we don't know what goes through their minds when one day they happen to chomp at the glider for fun as it runs by. There may of course be exceptions to the rule, but use common sense and don't have them out together in the same room interacting. Being killed by another pet is one of the leading causes of sugar glider deaths and something that no owner wants to have to deal with. Cat saliva is also toxic to gliders and even the smallest open wound can kill them if it gets into their system and causes them to go septic. So a very mild bite on the tail from a cat, that causes almost no damage can be the death of them if it breaks the skin and causes infection. Keep this in mind when making a decision on gliders, as not everyone will be in a position to manage their other animals while the gliders are out playing.
Are gliders ok with young children, my 6 year old would really like one?
Sugar gliders are not going to be an ideal pet for a child and should never be bought for them alone. While many families with children do have success keeping gliders, the animals have to be a pet for the parents that the children can be a part of. Since they can and may bite (rather painfully) and are delicate to hold, most young children are not going to get the chance to enjoy them very well.
Are sugar gliders allowed everywhere?
No, there are many places in Canada where sugar gliders are against the animal by-law. Each city/town/municipality, etc puts their own animal by-laws into place and you would need to check it to find out if gliders are allowed in your area.
Can you be allergic to gliders?
Yes you can. While it isn't overly common for people to be severely allergic to gliders it does happen. Most people will suffer from a skin reaction with small itchy hives that quickly go away when their nails poke the skin. Keeping them well trimmed will help and can prevent this. Others have much more severe reactions to the proteins in their saliva which can cause serious respiratory issues.
For those who are bringing home gliders
Do I need to use special Laundry Detergent?
You don't HAVE to, but I do always recommend to people to pick up a Scent Free, Dye Free detergent because I feel that the gliders will mark less then when they are trying to cover up the smell of an added scent. There are many different brands that sell Scent Free, Dye Free, Tide and Arm and Hammer being a couple of them.
What should I use to clean my cages?
You want to avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals as much as possible, since they could be toxic. I recommend using Chlorhexidine for a safe non-toxic disinfectant cleaning agent, or a mix of Dawn dish soap, Eucalyptus oil and vinegar.
Do I need a 2nd cage if adding a new glider?
If you are bringing home a new glider to introduce to your current colony, you should be sure to have a 2nd cage as there is no guarantee that your new glider will be instantly accepted into the group. Some gliders can take weeks or months to accept a newcomer and while joeys are generally pretty easy to intro to a lone glider, even then you may still run into issues that require the use of a 2nd cage for a time.
How can I get my gliders to stop barking?
Some will bark for attention so be sure not to go to them with treats or affection when you hear them barking as they will try to train you to give them what they want, lol. It may have it's moments when it's cute, but not every night at 4am while you are in a dead sleep. If you have a glider that likes to bark that you are hoping to stop you can try using lights. Generally gliders will stop barking when the lights go on. Start by putting on the lights for a few mins (do not engage your glider when you do this, just turn on the lights and walk away silently). If they continue to bark when you put the lights back on, try keeping them on longer and longer until they stop.
What are the prices of your sugar gliders?
Price's of my joeys range from $300-$900+ depending on the color. I deal with genetics breeding specifically for specialty colors so I don't always have the less expensive Standard Grey's available, but I do have them on occasion and pair them up with other colors to make them more affordable for families. I also offer a substantial discount on the adoption of a 2nd glider ($50-$300+ depending on the initial cost of the gliders), as no glider should ever be alone.
Do your gliders come with anything?
All joeys include a health guarantee, Joey package (sleeping pouch, bonding bag, dry food/treats/vitamin sample for TPG) and lifelong support from Canada's longest running lineaged breeder of almost 15 years. We also have Full Starter Bundles with or without Cages that are available with a further discount for those adopting from us (those buying cages must be within driving range as shipping them is too expensive).
At what age can a joey go to it's new home?
Our joeys are a minimum of 8 weeks old before going to their new homes. Neutering for males is done at or after 8 weeks and will depend on booking times with my vet.
Can my gliders be delivered?
I do meet up with people between Midland and all around the Toronto area and in rare cases I can deliver for a fee depending on your location. Shipping across Canada is also available by flight with Air Canada Live Animal Cargo for a fee of $200.
Do you sell gliders for breeding?
Yes, we do have wonderfully well bred gliders with excellent lineage available to approved homes that are looking to breed, a breeding application will be required.
Since you hand tame your gliders from birth, does that mean they will instantly like me and play with me when we get them home?
No, not necessarily. Even though my joeys are tame from being handled every day and used to people, that doesn't mean that they will be comfortable when they leave their parents and come into your home. New smells, sounds and everything else in your environment is different then what they are used to and being babies this means that some of them will take time to adjust and get used to their new surroundings. They also need to learn to trust you as you are a new person for them. Some joeys can take time to settle in with their new families so you have to be prepared to take things at their pace.
We welcome your questions and if there's one that you have and you don't see it here, send it to me and I'll be happy to answer and add it to our site so that others can learn as well. I hope to always have this section expanding and our Blog will go into more detail for some of the topics covered.