Sugar gliders wellness (Proceedings)


Sugar gliders wellness (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2010

An excellent source of information for both the veterinarian and sugar glider pet owner is available at Veterinarians that are seeing sugar gliders a patients should register to become a member (it's free).


Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps = tight rope walker, short head) are one of the newest additions to the world of fad pets. Published information on Sugar Gliders is sparse, but more is coming available as we continue to see them as pets/patients.

A sugar glider is a small marsupial possum found in the treetops of Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and Papua-New Guinea. They get their name because of their preference for sweet foods and have a gliding membrane (called the patagium) similar to that of a flying squirrel. They are about the size of a large hamster. They are primarily grey with black stripes and a lighter underside. They are nocturnal and have large eyes for night vision. Like rodents, the incisors grow continuously and must wear against the opposing teeth to prevent overgrowth. They have scimitar-shaped claws and fused 2nd and 3rd digits (comb) to assist with climbing. The sugar glider tail is also used as a stabilization device during "gliding". Males have a large patch of crusty alopecia on the top of the head, which is a scent gland. It can easily be mistaken for a scab by unfamiliar clinicians.

Breeding is usually accomplished with trio groupings of 1 male and 2 females. Gestation is only 16 days and the two offspring are very small and altricial. Females have a pouch where the offspring spend the first 3 months of their lives. By the time they leave the pouch, they are nearly independent. They should be offered soft foods and they gradually introduced to solid foods.

Sugar gliders are social creatures, normally living in small family groups. In captivity, they do best when kept with a companion. At the very least, they should be given at least one or two hours of attention each day. Isolation is extremely stressful for social animals.