Male sugar gliders have a distinct bald spot on the top of their head that appears as they reach sexual maturity (the age of this is variable, but often around 12-15 months of age for males). This area, which is a diamond-shaped patch right on the forehead, is a scent gland. The male glider uses this scent gland to mark his female mate, his offspring, and his territory.
Sugar Glider Anatomy
The male sugar glider actually has three scent glands: the one on his head, a second on his chest (which may appear as a small bald spot or may cause the fur to be slightly discolored in the area over the scent gland), and a third in the genital area (next to the cloaca). The female has scent glands in the genital area as well as in the pouch. Sugar gliders have a mild odor, described as a sweet musky smell. While it may be a little stronger in the male at breeding season, it is not a strong or offensive odor.
Both male and female sugar gliders have gray fur with a cream colored chest and stomach, and a black stripe that runs down the full length of their backs. Sugar gliders large ears are completely hairless. The ears are in constant motion (used to pick up sounds) and can move independently from each other. Sugar gliders tails are used as a rudder, for stability and balance. When they glide, the tail helps to steer the direction of flight. These animals also have a skin membrane that stretches from the wrist to the ankle. When this membrane is stretched, it helps the sugar glider to glide through the air.
Sugar Glider Gender and Reproduction
In addition to the diamond-shaped bald spot, male sugar gliders have a small furry scrotum that is visible on inspection. Female sugar gliders have a pouch on their stomachs and do not have the bald spot on their heads. Once they have reached sexual maturity, sugar gliders will breed year round and mate often. Female sugar gliders can have two or three litters a year, and most liters will produce one or two babies.
Once the female sugar glider gives birth, the very, very tiny babies will climb directly into the mother's pouch. These small babies will likely not be visible in the pouch for around two weeks. After about six weeks, the baby sugar glider will likely emerge from the mother's pouch. They will continue to feed on their mother and will probably be ready to wean after their eyes have been open for about 3 to 4 weeks. Once the baby sugar gliders have had their eyes open, they can be handled by humans for short periods. After the babies have weened, they can be moved into their cages away from their parents.