Sugar gliders are small arboreal marsupials, silvery blue-gray in color with a darker stripe on the back. The last couple of inches of the tail is also black. They are members of the same family as kangaroos, wombats, opossums, and Tasmanian devils. If you plan to keep sugar gliders as pets, you'll want to keep track of each animal's sex, especially if you're keeping more than one.
Sexing a Sugar Glider
It is quite easy to tell the difference between a male and female sugar glider, especially once they have reached maturity. Females have a pouch on their bellies that appears as a slip about 1/2 inch wide. Male sugar gliders do not have pouches. Instead, they have a furry pendulous scrotum in front of the cloaca (the common opening of the reproductive, urinary, and intestinal tract). In young sugar gliders, the scrotum will not be as easy to see. Mature males also have a distinctive diamond-shaped bald spot on top of their heads.
All About Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are native to Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and the neighboring islands of Indonesia. Sugar gliders can be found in wooded forests where there is plenty of rainfall, particularly near their main food sources, acacia gum and eucalyptus trees. In the wild, they form colonies with up to seven gliders in one colony, and each includes a hierarchical order, including a leader and the remaining members in descending rank.
Sugar Gliders "glide" by leaping off of something. They spread their membrane of skin, called a patagium, that extends between their front and back legs. This allows them to glide through the air, and they use their long tails to steer. They can glide over one hundred meters, adjusting the curvature of their skin according to which direction they wish to go.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep during the day and are awake and active at night. In the wild, sugar gliders are playful with their colony but are wary and protective of intruders. When an intruder is spotted, they will make a shrill yapping sound, and this will be followed by a sharp shriek if a fight arises. It is not easy to tame an already mature sugar glider. However, it is easy to tame baby sugar gliders by holding them for several hours a day while they are still very young.
Sugar Gliders as Pets
If you wish to keep cuddly sugar gliders as pets, be sure to adopt animals that have been extensively handled and well socialized. They tend to bond strongly to one person, usually the person who has held them the most and spent the most time with them.
Sugar gliders are extremely active and social animals and do not like to live alone. For this reason, it is best to keep more than one. A lonely sugar glider that is deprived of social interaction will not thrive.
Sugar gliders can be successfully bred in captivity, but this can be a difficult and complicated process. It is best not to attempt breeding sugar gliders until you have extensive experience with these animals and have a reliable plan for raising or sharing the litter.