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Development of a sugar glider

The Birth

Gestation will occur for approximately sixteen days. Most sugar gliders will give birth during daylight hours. The mother will begin by licking a wet path from her cloaca to her pouch. By matting down the fur, she makes it easier for the joey to find its way to her pouch and avoid becoming entangled in her fur. One or two joeys are most common, but they can have up to four joeys at a time. Once in her pouch, the newborn joey will find and attach to one of her four nipples. Once the joey has attached to the nipple, it will begin to swell inside the baby's mouth. Its jaw will remain locked on the nipple for the next eight to nine weeks. Should the joey come off prematurely, it will likely die. The baby's jaw is not developed enough to open and latch back on the nipple. The entire birthing process will take about five minutes. Very few are lucky enough to see a sugar glider give birth.

If you did not see the birth, there are a few signs that she has a joey on the way, such as:

  • You may see the trail she licked from the cloaca to her pouch (sometimes called a "licky trail")
  • The female may clean her pouch more than usual
  • She may become a bit more "pouch protective" of her nest or sleeping quarters
  • She may become grumpy or irritable
  • Her pouch could be a little puffy or fuller looking


  • Size - weigh 0.2 g and about 5 mm in length. Similar in size to a grain of rice
  • Fur - None, pink
  • Development:
    • Eyes are under developed
    • Ears closed and under developed
    • Nubs for limbs
  • Mobility - Crawls into pouch, does not leave pouch

Birth and Mating Photos

Up to 1 week in pouch

The joey does not do a lot of growing in size this stage. Do not worry if you not see a joey, but witnessed the birth; the mother can easily hide the joey in the back of her pouch. Do not open a sugar glider’s pouch. If the joey comes off the nipple it will not be able to reattach and hand feeding at this stage is not possible; it will die.


  • Size - Similar in size to a green pea
  • Fur - None, pink
  • Development:
    • Eyes closed
    • Ears remain closed
    • Jaw under developed
  • Mobility - Does not leave pouch

Up to 2 weeks in pouch

It is possible to see the joey through the pouch as a dark spot or small lump. However, it depends on the build of the mother and the placement of the joey. The mother can still hide her little joey in the back of her pouch. As exciting as this time is, do not check the female every day for babies, as this can cause unnecessary stress and ultimately lead to joey rejection or cannibalization.


  • Size - Doubled since birth, Similar in size to a small shelled peanut
  • Fur - None, pink
  • Development:
    • Eyes remain closed
    • Ears and eyes remain closed
    • aw under developed
    • Feet are beginning to become more defined
    • Tail is starting to become apparent
  • Mobility - Does not leave the pouch

Up to 4 weeks in pouch

The mother can no longer hide the joey, and a lump is visible by looking at mom. If there are twins in pouch, you will see a lump on each side of her pouch. Should there be only one baby, the pouch will usually appear lopsided. If you do not see a lump by now, it is possible that the mother has rejected or cannibalized the joey.


  • Size - Similar in size to a grape
  • Fur - None, pink
  • Development:
    • Eyes grow larger and remain closed
    • Ears fused to the head
    • Head grows larger
    • Jaw is still locked
    • Toes started to form
    • Tail is not quite as long as the joey’s body
  • Mobility - Does not leave the pouch, slight movements visible through the pouch

Up to 7 weeks in pouch

The mother glider is quite large now. The baby is visible through the pouch as the skin is stretched fairly thin and is semitransparent. On occasion you may see a tail or foot slip through the pouch opening. Many breeders lower the sleeping area to prevent possible injuries to a newly out of pouch joey.


  • Size - At the beginning of this stage joey will be similar in size and shape to a peanut with its shell and will grow quite rapidly
  • Fur - Pink, dark sections can be seen where black hair will grow in, joey has a wet or shiny appearance
  • Development:
    • Eyes become larger but remain closed and have a layer of skin over them
    • Eyelids start to develop
    • Tail as long as joeys body
    • Nails and whiskers are starting to grow
    • Ears still fused
    • Nose appears disproportion to its head
    • Jaw remains locked
  • Mobility - Movements can be seen from outside the pouch

Up to 7 Weeks IP Photos

Up to 9 weeks in pouch

The joey will be ready to leave the pouch sometime between eight to nine weeks in pouch. Most breeders determine a joey to be out of pouch (OOP) when it is detached from the mother’s teat and no longer fits inside mom’s pouch. Since it is possible for a mother to have joeys at different stages of development, twin joeys may not be OOP on the same day. You may hear the mother start to sing to her joey around this time. The singing encourages the joey to detach from the nipple. Once fully out of pouch, the new joey will nurse by sticking its head into the mother’s pouch.

The mother may leave the joey alone in the nest with the father to keep it warm or allow it to hang under her abdomen as she moves around the cage. Some parents will leave the joey alone in the nest while both parents are eating or playing. This is normal and the parents should return when the joey cries for them. Most sugar gliders are great parents, but watch for signs of joey rejection.

It is possible to start handling the joey for about two to five minutes at a time. If possible, hold the joey where the mother glider can watch you to prevent stress. Weigh the joey with a gram specific scale as soon as possible. By monitoring the joey's weight, you will be able to identify potential problems faster.


  • Size - approximately 10-18 grams
  • Fur - Smooth fine fur upon coming out of pouch. The abdomen area, patagium, and legs may not be covered with fur and remain pink. A standard joey’s tail will appear smooth and black or solid gray.
  • Development:
    • Ears are beginning to pop out
    • The joey is still stimulated by the parents to eliminate waste
    • Eyes remain closed
    • You can now sex the joey
    • Joey becomes vocal
  • Mobility - Stays in nest

Up to 2 weeks out of pouch

At this stage, you can hold the joey about four to ten minutes at a time. The joey will most likely cry for mom while you are holding it. Try placing the joey in a loose pocket, bra or cupped hands to calm the joey. The mother may exhibit signs of nervousness the first few times you hold the joeys outside of her site. To build trust with the mother, walkout of her view for a minute or two at a time before putting the joey back into the nest. Speak softly to the baby so that it becomes accustom to your voice. Shortly after the joey comes out of pouch, the parents may decide to mate again. It is possible for her to give birth to a new joey and while nursing one that is recently out of pouch.


  • Size:
    • 1 week OOP 12-22 grams
    • 2 weeks OOP 16-26 grams
  • Fur - Fur will become increasingly thicker legs, abdomen, patagium
  • Development:
    • Joey becomes vocal
    • The joey is still stimulated by the parents to eliminate waste
    • Teeth are starting to come through on the top jaw
    • Bottom teeth are little more than a lump
    • Eyes will open
  • Mobility - Stays in nest or may start to ride on a parent’s back

Up to 4 weeks out of pouch

Around this time you will see your joey's personality start to come through. Joeys can be held up to about a half hour at a time. The baby can very active at this point, so be prepared for little jumps or leaps from your hands at any time.


  • Size:
    • 3 week OOP 17-27 grams
    • 4 weeks OOP 23-33 grams
  • Fur - Joey is completely furred on its underside, its tail and body fur will start to thicken and fluff out
  • Development:
    • Vocally starts to explore different sounds it can make
    • The joey is still stimulated by the parents to eliminate waste
    • Ears are now up and consistently moving picking to hear new sounds
    • Teeth are developed
  • Mobility - Joey starts to make small jumps or hops when being held. The joey may ride around on mom or dad's back or start poking out of the nest

Up to 6 weeks out of pouch

The joey will begin to come out of the nest without riding on its parents. You may see the joey will visit the food stations and taste the food available to the parents. Even though the joey is starting to eat on its own, the joey is not ready to be separated from its parents. The joey is still nursing off of its mother regularly to help balance its diet. It may also start to use the wheel on its own and become interested in forging activities. Joeys can be held from about twenty to sixty minutes at a time and out of view of the parents. If you notice the joey rooting for food, crying, or it becomes cranky, put the joey back with its parents.


  • Size:
    • 5 week OOP 30-40 grams
    • 6 weeks OOP 35-45 grams
  • Fur - Tail and body fur close to adult thickness
  • Development:
    • Joey starts to try solid foods (mostly fruit)
    • Joey will start eliminating waste on its own
  • Mobility - Explores cage without riding on parents, some joeys will try to glide

Up to 8 weeks out of pouch

Around this time, the joey will be weaned and ready to live on its own. It must be eating solid food, no longer suckling on mom, and be able to eliminate waste without being stimulated. Each joey will develop at its own pace. Most gliders are ready at eight weeks to leave its parents, but others will take one to two weeks longer.

At this stage joeys can be held from about one hour to an unlimited amount of time. The joey should be out of view of the parents whenever possible to help with social weaning. It may also be ready to take short trips away from the home as it reaches eight weeks of age. Continue to watch for cues to return the joey to its parents.


  • Size:
    • 7 week OOP 40-50 grams
    • 8 weeks OOP 45-60 grams
  • Fur - Has adult fur and the tail is completely fluffed out
  • Development:
    • Fully developed
    • Eating solid foods without suckling on mother
    • Eliminates waste without stimulation
    • Able to live on its own
  • Mobility - Fully mobile and able to glide
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