10 Things to Expect When Owning Sugar Gliders

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. #pets #pocketpets #sugargliders


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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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  1. Thank you so much for such an informative article about these fascinating little creatures! My daughter has a resource teacher at school who had a sugar glider that passed away recently and when she made the comment about wanting one herself, I decided to do some research to get the low down on actually owning one. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your page while searching because, after reading this, I can definitively say that this is NOT a pet we should get any time soon! Thanks again and I’ll be sure to bookmark this and pass it along to anyone I meet who expresses a desire to get a sugar glider as a pet.

    • The ball pit ..Is it colored cotton balls..
      My daughter is a beeder and we are finally getting 2 girls.. They are sisters..I have not named them yet .. I want to see thier characters.

  2. I own 2 sugar gliders. Their names are Elle and Fin! They are my favorite pets by far!

    • Dagmar Preusker

      I also have a pair called Molasses and Treacle. They come to school with me each day and are a big hit with the children, especially those with ASD. I call them my pocket support animals. I find the comment about breeding interesting as I have had my 2 for over 2 years now and have had only one baby.

    • Deborah Wright

      How do you handle them to cut their nails.

  3. I would have made their breeding and gestation cycle one of the top most things to know. A pair of sugar gliders can very quickly turn into four, then 8, then 16, etc. The gestation period for Sugar Gliders is 17 days. And they can and will mate very often. If you plan to get a pair, and plan to limit it to that, you will NEED to get your male neutered.

    The young are also ready to breed in a short amount of time, so be responsible and plan your cost of getting your first pair to include the neutering cost.

  4. I would like to know are the sliders allowed in Illinois? And if so where can I find them at..I’m such a pet lover and I’m really would like to have one as a pet..

    • Your best bet would be to do some research online to find out any specific regulations in Illinois. The post lists the places where they are not allowed and Illinois is not one of the states listed. If you do decide on sugar gliders, remember that two are better than one.

  5. Thanks for this in depth post about Sugar Gliders. I had never heard of them before until recently via Emily too. Great job breaking everything down. I learned something new. Will pin this post.

    • Thanks for reading and your comment, Kamira. I agree that Emily did a fabulous, in-depth post. I think it gives a very clear idea of the pros and cons of owning sugar gliders.

  6. Thank you so much for the information. I’m 13 and currently thinking of getting a pair of sugar gliders. I wanted to ask my cousin for advice (she used to have sugar gliders) but she is in college. The only concern that I have is, I don’t know how big their cage needs to be. Do you have any idea how big the cage needs to be?

    • Hi Jeorgia. Thanks for checking out the post. Cages should be at least 2 feet deep by 2 feet wide by 3 feet high. That’s the minimum. The bigger the better!

    • 13 is young to own sugar gliders. Be sure parents are on board with caring, bonding. They are long term 12-13 years and can be expensive when medical care is needed especially as they become elderly. Rehoming gliders can be hard on them as they do become bonded with the hoomans they own.

  7. I didnt not see your reply to a question about Getting 1 sugsr glider and a few weeks later get the 2nd one. Would that cause a sugar glider to go into a depression ?

    • Sorry for the delay and thanks for visiting. It would be okay to get one now and another later but make the time between getting them as short as possible.

  8. Sugar gliders are not illegal in Utah. They may have been at one point but currently, they are not. And we do not need a permit either.

  9. I was planning on getting just one and then a couple months later getting another as a companion, would that work and keep them from being depressed?

  10. Hi there !!!
    Where did you get that ball pit container?? That is a great idea!…I have a fish bowl but id prefer a plastic container

    • The author of the article has not been able to reply. Her comment was marked as spam! On no. Working on figuring that out but in the meantime, here’s her reply. She got the ball pit container at Petsmart. It is a chinchilla dust bowl but they work great as ball pits.

  11. This was the most truly informative post I’ve read on Sugar Gliders. My daughter has her heart set on getting 3 We have 6 cats too and I was concerned we were crazy to get such opposite animals in the same household How do you split time between your gliders and cats and keep them separate?

    • Hi Annette, thanks for reading! Our sugar glider cage is kept in a separate bedroom. We keep the door closed to it at all times, so our cats don’t have any interaction with the gliders. We have rolled the cage out into other areas of the house before, and the cats climb the cage and act way too interested in them, so we just keep them totally separate for the gliders’ safety. I spend time with the gliders in their bedroom, and if I bring them out into another room, I am sure to put the cats up somewhere else. I don’t have trouble keeping them separate or splitting my time between everyone, but I could see how from the outside looking in, our house seems insane. lol. It’s a lot for sure, but I love it! 🙂

  12. I was honored to have my little glider. She was tremendous work and fun. Please,please do not get one if you enjoy your sleep! Mine was so loud I decided to let it roam at night. She changed fom barking loudly to nibbling on my ears and toes in order to wake me. They demand attention. …..lol

  13. I love my gliders ❤

  14. Thanks for the warning about not letting sugar gliders mingle with other pets. I had been daydreaming about getting a pair of sugar gliders and them becoming buddies with my cats, but your post has made me think twice.

  15. What a name! They sure look sweet. Do you name your sugar sliders?

  16. Excellent post! This July while I was at a big local fair, there was a vendor there selling these little guys. He was doing a very enthusiastic presentation and showing off the ones in his pockets. My first thought was “oh no, families are going to buy these without knowing anything about them.” I hate seeing animals being sold infomercial-style. Thank you for getting the truth out there!

  17. Wow sugar gliders are very interesting. I didn’t know people had them at pets. Great post!

  18. I enjoyed reading about Sugar Gliders. I didn’t know a lot about them.

  19. Sugar gliders sure are cute! I have only seen them once in person. I really didn’t know anything about them before this post. Jubilee and Sydney look they have it made!

  20. I am buddies with a sugar glider mom on Instagram. I learned so much here in this post and am tweeting it, too. WOW that’s a great life span for a small pet. Thanks for the informative blog post.

    • Martha Rutherford

      i have inherited too males fully intact and and seven females I have all of those are white except to one female is light gray with black stripes and I have the normal sugar color which is brown with the black stripes the normal colored one is not from this colony when A family friend realized I had sugar gliders she wanted to get rid of this female and it made me an offer the sugar gliders was lonely and depressed all by her self my heart broke now Im trying to introduce her to the colony not having very good success but still trying do you have any advice for me by the way she is binding with me and I have to hand feed her in my mind if I don’t she will not eat anything you can tell me to help I’m grateful for thank you in advance

  21. This is a great post! It’s really informative and gives people a lot to think about before purchasing a sugar glider. I”m looking forward to meeting them next year!

  22. How cool are they!? I had no idea. Great information to share with anyone considering getting some (love the point about not just one).

  23. Never realized these can be kept as pets. Never actually saw one before. Cute, though.

  24. I never knew there was so much stuff to know about Suger Gliders. I actually have a painting pattern with them on though. They need study, and care AND a lot of knowledge.

    Great Post!!

  25. I have never heard of them being pets, thanks for this post

  26. I’ve never heard of them before. Wow. They live a long time but I’m not sure they would fit well with my family.

  27. 12-15 years, wow! That’s funny that they are very busy at night and can keep humans awake. We have a bunny who is kind of nocturnal. Her room is right off our bedroom and I can often hear her in there – doing all kinds of things while the rest of us sleep.

  28. That is so interesting. Mom met a glider once that had been surrendered to the humane society. That little guy was a biter though!! (And appropriate rescue was found to take him)

  29. I did consider them when we were debating pets. Now it’s a no go. Mr. N and small creatures do not mix.

  30. O-M-G HOW CUTE ARE THESE?!! I have never seen these before! This is so new to me!! How crazy cute are these little animals?!! Thanks for the info! I learnt something new today!!

  31. I have friends that have sugar gliders. They are so darn cute! But yes, they are not for everyone.

  32. What a cool pet! I love that they are pocket pals. Thanks for introducing them to me. I enjoyed learning about the Sugar Gliders.

  33. My sugar glider was such an awesome pet. Not only are they beautiful but they have huge personalities for such small critters.
    I do agree that they need a buddy and tons of socialization!
    – Angela

  34. Thank you for this wonderful, enlightening post! I had started toying with the idea of getting a pair a few months back. They are absolutely adorable. You have provided lots of great information.

  35. Great info here on sugar gliders that any potential owner should consider first. The ball pit video is adorable, too!

  36. Thank you so much for inviting me to do a guest post! I enjoyed putting it together and hope that it can shed some light on sugar glider ownership for your readers! Anyone is welcome to reach out to me with any questions they may have!

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