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In the last decade or so, the popularity of sugar gliders as pets has grown considerably. The small size of these furry acrobats, their personalities, their plush fur, their large eyes, their agility and their ability to bond closely with humans have attracted legions of new sugar glider devotees.
What is a sugar glider and where did they originally come from? Sugar gliders are small marsupials and members of the possum family. They are found in Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Their scientific name is Petaurus breviceps. Most sugar gliders these days are captive-bred and not wild-caught.
Like their larger marsupial cousins, kangaroos, sugar gliders have a pouch where their infants grow and develop. Their young are called "joeys," as are the young of kangaroos. You may come across the term OOP while researching sugar gliders on the internet. OOP means "out-of-pouch" and it indicates how long the joey has been completely out of his mother's pouch. Joeys are ready to go to a new home at approximately 8 weeks OOP.
Sugar gliders are approximately chipmunk-sized, measuring about 9 to 12 inches long (including their long tail), and they weigh about 3 to 6 ounces as adults. Their normal color is steel gray to brownish with a black stripe down the back, but selective breeding in captivity has brought out other color variations, including albinos. In captivity, they can live as long as 15 years, although 8 to 12 years is more usual.
One of the most distinguishing features of sugar gliders is a thin membrane, called a patagium, that stretches between their front and rear legs, much like the more familiar flying squirrels of North America. This is what allows them to glide from tree to tree. When they glide, the skin spreads out, making sugar gliders look like furry kites! When the sugar glider is sitting, the patagium looks like ruffled furry skin, shaped somewhat like the edge of lasagna noodles.
Their tail is not prehensile, unlike their more familiar American opossum cousins. That means that sugar gliders cannot grasp, grip and hang from their tails. Instead, the tail is used as a balancing and stabilizing tool, especially while gliding.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal, which means they are active at night. They have very large (relative to their size) eyes, which help them see at night. They also have large ears, an obvious benefit to an animal who is both preyed-upon and a predator. Those big ears allow them to hear even the smallest sound.
Sugar gliders have fixed teeth, incisors, molars, and premolars. You should not trim your sugar glider's teeth. Unlike some species, such as guinea pigs, their teeth do not continue to grow once mature. If a tooth falls out, it is not replaced. Wild gliders chew on branches and in the process, clean their teeth. Gliders in cages will also chew on branches.
Sugar gliders have 5 toes on their front feet. Each toe ends with a very sharp claw that helps them land when they glide. Those claws also make gliders very agile climbers. Their hind feet also have 5 toes, but one of them is an enlarged, clawless opposable toe. An opposable toe means that they can use that toe to grip things, much as humans' opposable thumbs allow us to do the same.
Why are they called "sugar gliders"? In the wild, sugar gliders eat, as part of their diet, manna (a crusty sugar left where sap flowed from a tree trunk or branch) and honeydew (an excess sugar produced by sap-sucking insects). In captivity, sugar gliders have a fondness for sweet foods. They will eat too many sweets if allowed, so sweet foods must be rationed.
In the wild, sugar gliders nest in holes of trees in colonies of 7 to 15 members and have been observed gliding as far as 300 feet! The ability to glide is one of the most amazing features of sugar gliders, and one of the things that makes them such special pets. Teaching your sugar glider to glide to you is very rewarding!
Sugar gliders are social animals, which means they live in groups. They get along with and love the company other sugar gliders, and many sugar glider owners choose to have more than one glider. It is their social nature that allows them to develop strong bonds with their human owners. But it is also that social nature that creates their need for attention from their owners. Sugar gliders are not the kind of pet that can be left for long periods of time without any attention from their owners. The more time you spend with your sugar glider, the more he will become bonded with you.
Many sugar glider owners bond with their new gliders by carrying them around in a bonding pouch for several hours a day while the glider sleeps. Sugar gliders are sometimes called "pocket pets" because they will often curl up in your pocket and go to sleep!
Diet and housing are perhaps the two most important factors in deciding whether a sugar glider is the right pet for you. Sugar gliders require a varied diet consisting of a protein source (meat, insects, etc.), a fruit and/or vegetable source, and a supplement of calcium. There are commercial sugar glider dry and soft-pellet foods available, but it is not recommended that you feed your sugar glider a diet consisting solely of these commercial foods. Sugar gliders require fresh food sources in addition to any commercial food. Calcium is also crucial to their diet, and there are a number of products on the market that will allow you to easily add calcium to your sugar glider's diet.
Sugar gliders require as tall a cage as possible. They feel safer up high because they are normally tree-dwellers. 30 inches tall is usually the bare minimum for a sugar glider cage, but most breeders and sugar glider experts recommend cages 4 feet tall or higher. Many sugar glider owners buy flight cages designed for finches and other small birds. The flight cages are tall enough and roomy enough for a sugar glider. It is also recommended that sugar glider owners permit their gliders supervised play time in a glider-safe room for at least several hours a day.
Although sugar gliders are loving, affectionate and adorable, it is recommended that an adult closely supervise any young children around sugar gliders.
The cost of a sugar glider is approximately $150 to $250. If the glider must be shipped to you via airplane, there will be an additional cost. Certain desirable color variations can raise the price of a sugar glider considerably.
Miles Fowler is the author of Sugar Gliders: The Ultimate Guide, a comprehensive book for both novice and experienced sugar glider owners. Learn more at: http://www.sugargliderauthority.com
12-year-old Vernal girl creates comic book based on personal experience with bullying and loss
VERNAL, Utah (ABC4 Utah)- After dealing with bullying and the loss of a family friend, 12-year-old Shelbi Webb of Vernal channeled her feelings into writing a comic book to help others cope similar experiences. With the help of her dad, Jason Webb, she ...
12-year-old Utah girl writes comic book that tackles issues teens face
A 12-year-old Vernal girl who wrote a comic book is about to be published. Her comic book "Sugar Glider" officially comes out next month. Shelbi Webb says she wrote the comic book with the help of her father. The hero of the book is a high school track ...
Salt Lake Tribune
Utah 12-year-old and her dad — with help from the band X Ambassadors — create a superhero to combat bullying
Salt Lake Tribune
(Micah Palmer Baldwin | courtesy ICandy Photography & Design) Shelbi Webb, a 12-year-old from Vernal, is creator and co-writer of the independent comic book "Sugar Glider." By Sean P. Means. · Published: 4 days ago. Updated: 3 days ago. When she was in ...
RECALL: Exotics Feed Recalled Due to Potential Salmonella Risk
By American Veterinarian Staff. Vitakraft Sun Seed Inc., a pet food and treat manufacturer based in Weston, Ohio, has recalled 1 lot of its Sunseed Vita Prima Exotics Sugar Glider Formula due to potential Salmonella contamination. The recalled lot has ...
Two sugar gliders find Thiruvananthapuram zoo their home
Rinesh Koshy Chandy hands over the name board of Sugar Gliders to T. V. Anil Kumar, superintendent, Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thiruvananthapuram Zoo has got an exotic pet, a pair of sugar gliders, Chakku and Kakku which are nocturnal ...
Some states prohibit this pet. That doesn't mean its food should have salmonella.
One lot of a food for sugar gliders, small possums native to Australia and illegal in some states, has been recalled after salmonella was found. The recalled lot of Sunseed Vita Prima Exotics Sugar Glider Formula went to Florida, California (where ...
Yankton Daily Press
'Interesting' Pets: Curious Friends And A Gray Area Of The Law
Yankton Daily Press
While Sorensen was in school, she fell in love with exotic animals and decided to adopt a sugar glider, Ebenezer, from an advertisement she found online. "I saw an ad…of a couple that were trying to re-home their sugar glider because they didn't have ...
Wildlife Wednesday EXTRA: Prairie Dog & Sugar Glider
We visit Centre Wildlife Care to meet a Prairie Dog and Sugar Glider in this week's Wildlife Wednesday EXTRA! Wild About Animals is scheduled for Saturday, March 31 from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm at the Snider Ag Arena on Penn State's University Park ...
New Straits Times Online
#Showbiz: Thanuja an angel for abandoned animals
New Straits Times Online
Beauty queen-turned-actress Thanuja Ananthan hopes to raise more awareness about caring for animals through her acting. PIC BY HALIMATON SAADIAH SULAIMAN. By Dennis Chua - March 27, 2018 @ 9:37am. “I live with six cats, two dogs, a rabbit, a turtle, 12 ...
CBS 8 San Diego
Butterfly Jungle open at San Diego Zoo Safari Park through April 15
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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Spring will soon be in the air - and so will the butterflies! The Butterfly Jungle is now open at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and thousands of beautiful butterflies float in the hidden jungle. Kara Walsh, animal trainer at the ...
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