Tag Archive for pocket pets

10 Things to Expect When Owning Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.
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Welcome to my series featuring pocket pets, birds and reptiles where guest experts will give you the pros and cons to help you decide if a particular pet is a good fit for you. Today’s guest poster is my friend Emily Hall who will be telling you about sugar gliders. I have been involved in rescuing relinquished and confiscated sugar gliders and know first-hand how adorable they are and the challenges they present.

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10 Things to Expect When Owning Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders – those adorable pocket pets that seem to be growing in popularity as of late. Yes, they are “squee” cute, and yes, they are lots of fun. I always tell my cats I wish I could put them in my pocket and carry them around with me everywhere; with my gliders, I can, and I do! They play, they snuggle, they “fly,”… let’s face it, they are just plain cool. I absolutely love my two sugar gliders; however, I will be the first to admit to you that they are high maintenance.

You may be thinking, “Are they really that much different than having a cat, dog, rabbit, hamster, etc?” Yes, they are. Sugar gliders are considered to be an exotic pet, which means they have special needs and considerations. They are not for everyone. What makes them so different? Read on to find out…

Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.

 

1. They are nocturnal.

Yep, that’s right – sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the nighttime hours. That doesn’t mean you can’t interact with them during the day though. My sugar gliders usually wake up around 8pm and go to sleep around 8am, but I carry them around in a bonding pouch or in my shirt when I’m home during the day and even take them with me when I run errands. They usually just sleep through it all.

Warning: Because of their nocturnality, I wouldn’t recommend keeping their cage in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper. They do make a lot of noise during the night scurrying around their cage, running on their wheel, and eating. They also chirp, hiss, crab, and bark!

Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.

 

2. They live a long time.

Sugar gliders have an average lifespan of 12-15 years – similar to a cat or dog. That is considerably longer than most pocket pets though. If you add a sugar glider to your family, you are in it for the long haul, so be sure you are committed before bringing them home!


 

3. You can’t have just one.

People joke and say you can never have just one cat (I’ll attest to that – I have six!). With sugar gliders though, it is absolutely true. Sugar gliders are colony animals, which means they belong in a group. Lone sugar gliders will often become depressed and start over-grooming, refusing food, and even self-mutilating. Sugar gliders should always be kept in pairs, at least. As much as you may hang out with your glider, human interaction is no substitute for the companionship of another glider.

Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.

 

4. They have very specific nutritional needs.

Sugar gliders get their name because they glide like a flying squirrel, and they LOVE sweet things. If they had it their way, they would eat nothing but sugary foods. However, they actually require an extremely balanced diet of protein, fruits, and vegetables. An unbalanced diet can cause health problems such as a very smelly glider to hind leg paralysis. Unfortunately, there is no commercial sugar glider diet available that meets all of their nutritional requirements. To be sure that sugar gliders are getting a diet that meets their needs, it is recommended that they eat what is known as a homemade “staple diet.” You can find the recipes for these diets at www.sugie.info. I personally feed the Pet Glider Exotic Diet (TPG) to my gliders. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to make a month’s supply and is very easy and inexpensive to prepare.

 

5. They require a stimulating environment.

Sugar gliders can easily become bored which leads to depression, so it is important to provide them with a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. A sugar glider-safe exercise wheel is a must have item. You can also provide them with foraging toys (toys that you can hide treats and food in) and special treats like eucalyptus leaves and branches. In the wild, sugar gliders are tree dwellers, so it is also important to invest in a large enclosure that has a lot of vertical space (minimum dimensions of 2 feet deep by 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall) so they have plenty of room to jump and climb.


 

6. They require an exotic veterinarian.

Unfortunately most regular veterinarians do not treat sugar gliders, so you will want to make sure you have an exotic vet nearby before you bring your gliders home. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in an emergency situation and not have a vet to take them to. Exotic veterinarians are also usually a bit more expensive than a regular vet, so be prepared for a larger bill than for your cat or dog.

 

7. They will not be your best friend right away.

One of the biggest reasons sugar gliders get returned or turned over to a rescue is because many people don’t understand how much time, work, and patience goes into bonding with them. They expect for their sugar gliders to love them instantly, and when that doesn’t happen, they think something is wrong with the gliders. Sugar gliders are exotic animals and are not naturally trusting of humans. Bonding with them is a slow process that can sometimes take up to a year. It took a few weeks before my gliders would even let me touch them; a few months before they would climb into my hand; several months before they would let me pick them up. Patience is definitely key – if you try to rush the bonding process, you can do more harm than good. This is definitely a case when the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race” is absolutely true.

 

8. They are not legal everywhere.

The legality of owning sugar gliders varies from state to state. Some states ban them entirely, while others ban them only in certain cities. Some states require you to have a permit to own them, while others require no documentation at all. Below is a list of the places in which there is some type of law regulating sugar glider ownership:

  • Sugar gliders are completely illegal in California, Hawaii, and Alaska.
  • Sugar gliders are illegal in the cities of New York City (NY), Salt Lake City (UT), and St. Paul (MN) but are legal in the rest of the state.
  • New Mexico, Utah, and Pennsylvania require that you have a special permit to own sugar gliders.
  • Georgia requires that sugar gliders must be purchased from a USDA licensed breeder.

Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.

 

9. They should not interact with your other pets.

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to want to try to get your gliders to bond with your cat/dog/other pet. I imagine all the time how adorable it would be to see my two gliders snuggling with my cats. In reality though, that would be extremely dangerous for the gliders. Gliders move quickly and suddenly, which can trigger the prey instincts in cats and dogs. They are also very small and fragile, so even a playful swat or nibble from a cat or dog could be deadly to them. On the flip side of the coin, sugar gliders have been known to kill other small animals such as rats, gerbils, birds, etc. Of course you will find photos online of sugar gliders with other pets, but any responsible glider owner will tell you that it isn’t worth the risk. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of gliders who had been friends with a cat/dog/bird/you name it for years, and then in a matter of seconds it all came crashing to a halt. Just don’t do it. Better safe than sorry, I always say!

 

10. You will become addicted.

Yeah, so sugar gliders are a little more high maintenance than the average pet. They are also loads of fun, absolutely adorable, and will steal your heart. The more time you spend with them, the more you will fall in love, and the more you will want MORE! Trust me. They are worth every bit of “hassle” that they may be – and once you get used to taking care of them, none of it even seems like a hassle anymore. It is all worth it to have a couple of little creatures that want nothing more than to be on you all the time. You will find yourself carrying them around with you all day, not wanting to leave the house without them.

 

So, do you think you want a couple of sugar gliders?

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Sugar gliders are "squee" cute and lots of fun, but are they right for you? Learn the top 10 things to expect when you own sugar gliders.

 

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Emily Hall and Sophie of Kitty Cat ChroniclesEmily Hall is the blogger behind Kitty Cat Chronicles – a blog focusing on life with her six crazy cats, her dog, and her two sugar gliders! Writing about anything from special needs animals, to traveling with cats, to feline health and wellness, to product reviews, to the daily antics of her crazy fur-gang, Emily aims to entertain and educate. Stop on by to say “Hi” to Emily, Delilah, Sampson, Sophie, Sassy, Caster, Kylo Ren, Lucy, Jubilee, and Sydney (and her husband, Bobby)! Besides on their blog, you can find them all on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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If you are a blogger and interested in contributing to this series, please email me at info@savvypetcare.com.

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Are Pet Rats a Good Fit for Me?

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Welcome to my new monthly series featuring pocket pets, birds and reptiles. Each month, an expert will give you the pros and cons to help you decide if a particular pet is a good fit for you. I’m excited to have Abby Chesnut as my first guest, telling you about pet rats. I have had pet rats in the past and just adored them.

green stripeAre Pet Rats a Good Fit for Me?

So you have seen all the cute photos and videos of these fluffy, smart, and whiskery rodents and you are thinking about getting some as pets. Don’t get me wrong, they make wonderful pets, but there are a few pros and cons you should know before diving into the world of pet rats.

Things to consider before purchasing pet rats

  • Lifespan – The average for rats are around 2-4 years. Rats age very quickly compared to cats or dogs and this can be disheartening for many, but I like to think of that quote where they say for you, your pet might not be your whole life, but for your pet you are his whole life. Just gives you more reason to spoil them, right?
  • Health – Depending on where you get your rat (pet store or breeder) you will most likely run into some health problems that require you going to a vet. Before you decide that you want to have a pet rat please make sure that there is an exotic vet in your area that sees them. Costs can get high depending on where you live so it is always nice to have money stored up for an emergency.
Pet rats, brothers Delmar and Everett

Pet rat brothers Delmar and Everett

  • Social Animals – Rats need buddies so it is very frowned upon to get just a single rat. They live happier healthier lives when they have another rat to cuddle and interact with. The only thing I would say is more costly about having 2 rats compared to 1 is higher vet bills. Food doesn’t cost much and I mean come on, who doesn’t look cool with a rat on each shoulder?
Double Critter Nation Rat Cage

Double Critter Nation Rat Cage

    • Environment – Rats love to climb so they need enclosures that are more tall than long. Aquariums are not ventilated and can harm their fragile respiratory system so wire cages that are similar to bird cages but made for small pets like rats are the best. There are many cage calculators online that can help you find out if a cage is big enough, but overall for price and ease of use I always recommend the Critter Nation cage. Cleaning is important as well (they can get smelly), and you will need to clean your cage at least 1-2 weeks depending on how litter box trained they are (yes, it is possible), what bedding you use, and how big your cage is. Don’t forget that you will need to fill your cage up with toys, huts, hammocks, chew toys, a litter box, bedding, water bottle, and food!


Baby Delmar and Everett playing in their wheel (click the picture to see the video)

  • Exercise – When I first had my rats as babies they would go so crazy at night on their wheel! It was definitely hard to sleep at first, but what really helped that over the years is getting them out of their cage to release some of their energy. A lot of people put them on their bed with a dedicated rat blanket, or let them roam the bathroom, and even some people have their own rat rooms (a girl can dream). With many dogs and cats in my household, I put cardboard boxes on top of their cage and they go and play there while still being able to go back in for potty breaks and getting water. No dogs can get to them, and I supervise when one of my rat crazy cats is around. My point is that you can get creative, but exercise is very important for pet rats.

So I have touched on some major points to consider when you decide that you are serious about getting a pet rat (or two, or seven). Let us look at what makes them great pets!

Clicker training Delmar and Everett to spin (click the picture to see the video)

What makes rats great pets

  • Super smart – Some people have compared them to dogs when it comes to smarts, and they aren’t wrong. Did you know that rats were the first animal to be clicker trained? Mine actually love to do tricks, even though they only know two (spin and stand up) and they were so quick to catch on that it surprised me.
Pet rat Delmar - male rat

Delmar

  • Adorable – Rats are super cute! Despite the horrible stigma people have against them, those big eyes and whiskery noses are the best things to come home to after a long day. They will greet you at their cage door to say hi and eagerly await dinner. Afterwards, they very well would probably enjoy a shoulder rub! (I know my Delmar does) Rats do this cool thing where they brux (grind their teeth) and boggle (eyes bulge out because of the brux) when they are content. Some people think it is creepy, but I see it as a sign of a happy rat!
Pet rat Delmar being held by a young female attendee at the pet parade

Delmar spreading the love at a pet parade

  • Just Plain Cool – Have you ever walked around and seen a person with a rat on their shoulder? No? Well, you could be the next. I love to go to public events like pet parades and pet shows to educate the public about how amazing rats can be. So many people think that they are disgusting, once they learn how much grooming they do (as much as a cat) and pet them a little bit, you can change minds.

Overall, I think rats can make a great pet for older children (rats claws can be sharp and their bodies are fragile) and people of all ages can enjoy them just as well. If you aren’t ready for the big commitment for a dog or cat, but looking for a great small pet I think rats make a great animal companion!

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Abby ChesnutAbby Chesnut is a pet product influencer on her blog The Chesnut Mutts which has been around since November 2014. Jada and Bailey are her two mutts who have mostly taken over her blog with high-quality pet product reviews and giveaways, but her cat Shipoopi, pet rats Everett and Delmar, Emilio the betta fish, Tyrone the Apple Snail, and other household sharing dogs & cats pop in frequently. She loves to make people smile and laugh either by her photography, videos, or just her humorous and laid-back reviews.

You can follow Abbey and The Chesnut Mutts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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If you are a blogger and interested in contributing to this series, please email me at info@savvypetcare.com.

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