The active sugar glider loves to play and explore, so it’s important that the home environment reflect their need for adequate exercise space and a nutritional diet.
A Proper Home
A large bird cage will make a good home, but it shouldn’t be any smaller than 20 x 20 x 30 inches tall. If it’s a choice between height and length, take a taller home to accommodate the sugar gliders love for climbing. The enclosure should have no more than half inch bar spacing. Door and window screening is too small and your glider could easily get their claws caught in it, so stay away from using those materials when putting the home together.
Sugar gliders like to sleep where it’s warm and dark, so place a bird’s nesting box high in their home as your pet’s sleeping quarters. Food dishes should also be placed high. Keep the home in an area of fairly constant temperature, but keep it where the glider can see whether it’s day or night so your pet’s biological clock doesn’t get turned upside down.
The Right Bedding
You can use white paper towels, corn cob bedding, fleece, or recycled newspaper for your sugar glider’s bed. Aspen shavings and an old cloth will make the bed more comfortable. Carefresh also works well and can normally be purchased at your local pet store. Place shavings on the bottom of the home to absorb droppings, but do not use cat litter or cedar and pine shavings as these can cause respiratory problems.
Accessories and Toys
Water bottles used for hamsters are good. Hanging bird dishes, heavy ashtrays, or heavy small animal dishes all work well for a sugar glider’s food dish. Toys made for cats, birds, hamsters, and even some infants will give your sugar glider hours of entertainment. Use caution when installing any exercise wheels as these must have a solid running base and no moving parts that can catch the gliders tail or feet.
Branches and perches are absolute musts for any glider’s habitat. Branches taken from outside must be safe, sterilized, and not treated with chemicals. Bird perches work great. Use hollow logs or pipes and let your glider explore and hide inside them.
Fruit and Vegetables
Your sugar glider will enjoy a wide variety of fruits, such as apples, oranges, cantaloupes, grapes, pears, mango, water melon and pears. Your pet may eat peaches, kiwi, strawberries, pears, pineapple and banana, but some are not so fond of these. Some sugar gliders will eat the flesh of the fruit; others will only chew on it until they’ve extracted the juices.
Vegetables can include peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, squash and fresh greens. Pet gliders tend to enjoy drinking a variety of fruit juices and nectar from a bowl. All fruits and vegetables should be fresh and rinsed.
All meats should be lean, cooked well, and cut into very small pieces. Poultry is to be skinned and boneless. A sugar glider’s natural source of protein is live prey such as crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms, so add these to their diet.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein if your glider will eat it, as are dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese. Hard boiled eggs will also provide good protein. Quality dry cat food can be sparingly added to their diets. Sugar gliders get most of their water from the food they eat, so a dry pellet meal is not recommended.
Do Not Feed Your Sugar Glider Any of the Following
– Raw sugar, sugar substitutes, candy, chocolate, or rhubarb.
– Coffee, tea, or soda.
– Fried meats, or meats with any seasonings; tuna.
– Insects caught in the wild that could have had contact with pesticides.
– Onions and foods that contain onion powder (including some baby foods).
– Peanuts, or other foods with high fat content; pits or seeds of fruit; eggs.
– Garlic, salt, potatoes, turnip, or avocado.
Treats and Supplements
Sunflower seeds and pecans make good treats, but keep away from anything that has a high fat content. The biggest problem for sugar gliders will normally be a lack of calcium, so good calcium supplements like Reptivite and Rep-Cal (reptile vitamins) can be used as a supplement to their usual diet.
Like any small pet, the sugar glider does require some special consideration when it comes to a proper home environment and sustainable diet. A little research, some common sense, and a lot of love will keep your glider happy and healthy.