Are sugar gliders the right pet for you?
Sugar gliders are great animals and can be a wonderful addition to many families. However, consider what is best for the animal and yourself. There are many pros and cons to being a sugar glider owner. Sugar gliders are exotic animals and they do require exotic care and are subject to exotic pet laws. Too many times people rush into buying these animals before researching sugar glider ownership. This leaves many sugar gliders abandoned, homeless, sick, and even dead. Before you decide if a sugar glider is right for you and your family, consider the following:
There are a few states that require permits for sugar glider ownership and some states ban them entirely. The State Department of Wildlife and Department of Fish and Game will help you determine the legal status of sugar glider ownership in your state. Do not rely on unofficial websites that determine the legality of sugar glider ownership. Laws are always changing; many sites are outdated and not maintained properly. After determining the legality of ownership at the state level, check your local laws. Some townships, counties, cities, and regions ban or require additional licensing for sugar glider ownership within their jurisdiction.
If you are planning on breeding your sugar gliders, be sure to mention that while you are researching the legality of sugar glider ownership. Some states and local governments have laws that require additional licensing for breeding or rules in which you obtain your sugar gliders. You may also need to have a federal license issued by the USDA when breeding sugar gliders. Check the USDA's website for current rules regarding this license.
If you don't abide by the law, your sugar gliders can be confiscated and put down. Additionally, you can be fined or imprisoned.
Prices for sugar gliders start at $150.00-$200.00 for one gray sugar glider. Since sugar gliders are colony animals and should not be housed alone, you will need to get more than one(read more here). Sugar gliders need large cages, a regular supply of safe toys for stimulation, and have a complex diet that can be costly. Veterinary care and general and upkeep costs can add up quickly.
To calculate the cost of sugar glider ownership, make a list. Be sure to include the cost of their diet, replacement toys (about once a month), replacement cages (every 6 months to 2 years depending on quality), and budget in emergency vet expenses ($100-$500 a year on average).
A sugar glider in captivity can live up to 15 years providing it has good care. That means 5,478 nights of chopping up fresh fruit and veggies, touching bugs, balancing meals, cleaning cages, and spending quality time with your sugar glider. Life situations can change dramatically over the course of fifteen years. Consider how vacations, family emergencies, and other major life events will be impacted by sugar glider ownership.
Sugar gliders have very little dander, so people that are allergic to pet dander usually do not have a reaction. However, those allergic to animal fur may have an issue with interacting with sugar gliders.
As part of their grooming practices, a sugar glider will sneeze on their hands and groom their fur. The saliva in combination with their sharp nails can puncture the skin and cause a condition known as dermatitis. People with sensitive skin may break out in the rash due to the bacteria that is present under the sugar glider’s nails. In some cases the reaction can be severe and may require antibiotics.
You must find a highly qualified veterinarian before you get your sugar glider. Sugar gliders are exotic animals; most traditional veterinarians will not treat them. In some cases, a veterinarian will agree to treat sugar gliders but not have experience in their care and health. Ask for references of experience when searching for a qualified exotic veterinarian.
Sugar gliders cannot be potty trained. They go whenever and where ever, which includes on you and your clothes. You can limit accidents by stimulating the cloaca with a cotton swab to encourage the sugar glider to release its bowels before getting it out of the cage. However, this procedure will not eliminate all accidents.
Sugar gliders use urine to mark their territory and colony members. If a sugar glider decides to mark you as a member of its colony, they will urinate on you. This tends to be more common with intact males, but both males and females will mark their territory with urine.
A sugar glider can be a good pet for some older children that show a higher degree of responsibility and maturity. However, a child should never be the sole caretaker of the sugar glider. For more information about sugar gliders and children, please visit our information section about sugar gliders and kids.
Sugar gliders have sent glands and do have a mildly sweet musky odor. Owners can limit smell by neutering intact males and cleaning the cage, toys, and pouches in rotation. Some owners add ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to an 8oz water bottle to help neutralize the urine and musky smell.
Wild sugar gliders often fall prey to birds. Therefore, sugar gliders should not be kept in the same room as birds. As a general rule, sugar gliders and other pets should not be allowed to interact with each other. Some dogs and cats remain indifferent about the presence of sugar gliders, but others will wait for the right opportunity to act on instincts. Additionally, sugar gliders should always have their own cage/habitat and not be housed with any other species.
Last Updated: 1/15/17