Sugar Gliders as Pets: Cost to Buy, Legalities, Dangers, and More Info

Human Holding Two Sugar Gliders

Sugar Gliders are among some of the more popular exotic pets. There is always risk when buying exotic pets, even when they are as cute as a Sugar Glider. I wanted to learn more about owning Sugar Gliders so I did some research, this is what I found.

What are the important things to know before buying a Sugar Glider? A baby Sugar Glider can cost $200 and $500, while an adult will cost approximately $100 and $150. Sugar Gliders are illegal in AK and CA, and a permit is required to own one in PA and MA. Sugar Gliders need a lot of room to climb and glide, they also do better in pairs.

This is just the beginning of what you need to know before buying a Sugar Glider. If you are interested in learning more about costs, legalities, dangers, the personality of Sugar Gliders, how to take care of them, and more keep reading.

Cost of Owning a Sugar Glider

The cost of owning a pet is much more than just the pet itself and that is no exception for owning a Sugar Glider. They need food, a place to live, and other accessories to keep them happy.

ItemsCost (average)
Sugar Glider$350
Food$35
Habitat$45
Accessories$15
Total$445

First is the cost of the actual Sugar Glider.

According to Cost Helper Pets, Baby Sugar Gliders (aged 8 to 12 weeks) can range anywhere from $200 to $500, while any Sugar Glider over 12 weeks old will usually be priced from $100 to $150. Adult Sugar Gliders are in lower demand because the older they get the more difficult it is to train them, which makes them less desirable to potential owners.

Because Sugar Gliders are exotic pets, you normally can’t find them at any normal pet store. You either have to buy them directly from breeders or an exotic pet shop if your city has one. This means that their price can vary by quite a lot, but will generally be more expensive.

Next is the cost of food.

Sugar Gliders are not domesticated animals. This means their stomachs have not adjusted to eating any normal pet food, they have to eat what they would normally eat in the wild.

Sugar Gliders need to have a balanced diet to keep them from becoming ill. They can eat fruit and vegetables, live insects, nectar, and special Sugar Glider food and supplements.

I found a food starter pack on Amazon for $33.99, I will link it here if you are interested.

They will also need a place to live and accessories to keep them happy.

Sugar Gliders are non-domesticated animals which mean they still have wild instincts. This means they need a large habitat to run, and climb, and glide.

Many Sugar Glider cages suitable to house a sugar glider are around $40-$50 but can be more if you want an even bigger cage. Many of these cages come with accessories such as hiding holes, hammocks, and climbing posts, but if not a set will cost you around $10-20 plus any extras you would like to purchase in addition.

I found a cage on Amazon for $54.65 that comes furnished with accessories for your Sugar Glider, linked here.

After adding all these costs together the total start-up cost for owning a Sugar Glider is anywhere from $430 to over $500, and that is just the base price. It will still cost monthly for upkeep and feeding.

Is Owning a Sugar Glider Illegal?

Sugar gliders Having Patriotic Treat

Sugar Gliders are exotic animals which can be illegal in some places, so it is a good idea to check in your state before purchasing one. Below is what I found on the legality of Sugar Gliders in the United States.

Sugar Gliders are fully legal in 46 out of the 50 states, with the exception of California, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

It is completely illegal to own or sell a Sugar Glider in California, and Alaska, no exceptions. You can own a Sugar Glider in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, but a special permit acquired from local government is required. In all 50 states, you need a permit to breed, sell, or capture Sugar Gliders.

While Sugar Gliders are legal in almost all of the United States, that is not the case in Australia. In Australia, where Sugar Gliders originated, they are almost completely banned as pets and are illegal to own as they are seen as wild animals.

The Dangers of Owning a Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders are not dangerous or aggressive animals and are usually not defensive against humans. They do have small sharp teeth and claws and will bite if provoked, threatened, or frightened. They are not powerful enough to cause any lasting damage, though it will hurt for a while.

Once they have been trained, and adjusted to be around humans, they are known to be very sweet and loving animals that love to be around their owner.

While they aren’t a serious danger to humans, humans can be a danger to them.

As spoken about before, Sugar Gliders are not domesticated animals. They aren’t adjusted to living in captivity, even if they are bred in captivity. By owning a Sugar Glider without proper resources, you could be depriving it of its natural instincts, which is why many animal rights group advise against owning one.

If you choose to own a Sugar Glider there are a few things you need to be sure to be prepared to do to make sure they stay as happy and healthy as possible.

Sugar Gliders get very lonely.

Sugar Gliders are not meant to be on their own, they live in packs and colonies in the wild. It is important that if you have a Sugar Glider, to have more than one so they don’t get lonely and depressed. If they do get depressed, this could also cause them to get ill and potentially pass away.

If you only have one Sugar Glider, it is important to play with them and handle them every day to prevent them from getting lonely.

Sugar Gliders need a large habitat with accessories to keep them from getting bored, and feeling confined.

The habitat should be big enough for them run, climb, and glide. It should also include accessories to make them feel more at home with things to hide in, climb up, and lay in, making them feel more comfortable.

Sugar Gliders are nocturnal, meaning they will be most active at night.

Places like hiding holes or shelters are great for your Sugar Glider during the day, to keep them from getting disturbed. Try to leave them alone as much as you can during the day and let them sleep to avoid messing up their resting periods. Keep them in dark quiet areas in the day time.

Sugar Gliders take a lot of special precautions and care to stay happy and healthy in captivity. If you don’t think you are capable caring properly for a Sugar Glider, it is best to not get one.

Sugar Glider Temperament

Once tamed, Sugar gliders can be amazing and loving animals. They are entertaining and can be trained to be held and handled by people.

It is important to bond and spend time with your Sugar Glider even if you have more than one. Bonding is necessary if you want your Sugar Glider to be kind to people. They are marsupials so it is comforting for them to be carried in a pouch, a good way to bond is by carrying them in a pouch around your neck or in a shirt pocket.

If you don’t have any shirts with pockets, or a pouch to carry them in, you can purchase one for fairly cheap online. I will link one that I found on Amazon here.

They also enjoy grooming each other and their owners. They live in packs in the wild and will groom one another. If the Sugar Glider begins to think of you as part of their pack, they will groom you by lightly nibbling or scraping their teeth on you.

Sugar Gliders are also very vocal animals. They will make noises to let you know that they are upset or that something is wrong. It is important to be aware of these noises, as it may be a sign that they don’t like what you are doing, and potentially a warning before they bite. They may also make these noises if they are woken up in the day time.

It may take some time and patience to tame your Sugar Glider, but just give it time. They need to feel comfortable and adjusted to the new environment before they can trust anyone.

Caring for a Sugar Glider

Caring for a Sugar Glider is much different than caring for an average pet such as a cat or a dog because Sugar Gliders require a lot of special accommodations to be cared for properly.

First thing to know, is the proper way to feed a Sugar Glider.

Sugar Gliders aren’t normal pets, their stomachs aren’t build for any regular pet food, and need food that is prepared daily.

“You can’t feed a sugar glider pet food; because it has not genetically changed from the wild sugar glider, it needs to eat the same thing it would eat in the wild…”

Dan Nosowitz

One of the most important things for Sugar Gliders to eat are fresh fruits and vegetables. This will give them the vitamins they need to stay healthy.

Here is a list of fruits that are good to feed Sugar Gliders:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Papaya

Here is a list of Vegetables that are good to feed Sugar Gliders:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Squash

Make sure when you are feeding your Sugar Glider fruit and vegetables to remove any pits, seeds, or stems, to make sure your Sugar Glider doesn’t choke.

Sugar Gliders love sweet things, which is where they get the first half of their name from, their love of sugar. They will love sweet fruits and nectar.

Another thing they need is live insects for protein. Two easy insects to find that are good for and enjoyed by Sugar Gliders are Crickets and Mealworms, but any insects high in protein with a good amount of fat are suitable for Sugar Gliders.

Sugar Glider Snacking on Baby Corn

Avoid feeding your Sugar Glider any insects you capture or find outside or around your house. These insects may be infected by insecticides or poisons that can make your Sugar Glider very sick.

You also need to feed your Sugar Gliders supplements to make sure they get enough calcium, protein, and vitamins. It is very easy for your Sugar Glider to get low on Calcium which can cause health problems and weaken their bones and teeth.

You can buy special food and supplements made especially for Sugar Gliders that are packed with the things they need. These should be used in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, and live insects not in place of.

I linked a good food startup kit in the “Cost of Owning a Sugar Glider” section that includes basic food and vitamins, but I will also link a good calcium supplement to buy from Amazon here.

If you would rather not buy special food, there are many recipes online for food or nectar that can be made, and give all the needed nutrients to the Sugar Gliders. A good thing to give your Sugar Glider to give them needed nutrients is honey and baby cereal.

Here is an example of a recipe found on cuteness.com:

“You’ll need a half-cup and 2 tablespoons of warm water with an equal amount of raw honey, a shelled hard-boiled egg, a teaspoon of a sugar glider-appropriate vitamin supplement and a half-cup of high-protein baby cereal.
Put the water, honey, egg and vitamin supplement in a blender, and start the blender running. Gradually add the baby cereal and continue blending until the mixture is smooth. The nectar mix stays fresh for three days in a refrigerator, and you can also freeze portions for later use. Sugar gliders need 1 tablespoon of nectar mix per day.”

Jenny Green

It is very important to stick to this diet and be certain that your Sugar Glider gets all the proteins and vitamins they need. It is very easy for Sugar Gliders to get malnourished and sick from an improper diet, which is one of the most common ways they die as a pet. If you have more questions on what is best or what more you need to be doing to keep your Sugar Glider healthy, consult your veterinarian.

It is also important that your Sugar Glider has clean and fresh water to drink daily. You should change their water at least once or twice and day, and check every couple of hours to make sure that they have enough to drink. It is easy for small animals, especially ones as active as Sugar Gliders to get dehydrated which can potentially be very dangerous.

Next is making sure your sugar glider has proper housing.

This was discussed in previous sections, to recap they need a large cage with many accessories to allow them to practice their natural instincts. They love to relax in nests or hammocks which are a great addition to a cage. I will link a good example of a cage with accessories to buy from Amazon here (The same one linked in the “Cost of Owning a Sugar Glider” section).

The bottom of their cage should be covered in pet bedding made of wood shavings, or similar material. This will keep their cage not only cleaner, but it will also be easier to clean their cage, as all you have to do is replace the bedding.

Bedding should be replaced at least once a week, and deep cleaning of the cage should happen at least every other month which includes sanatizing the cage and washing the accessories. This will help prevent your Sugar Glider from getting sick.

Just like any other pet, your Sugar Glider needs to see a Vet.

Sugar Gliders have medical problems just like any other pet, and need to see a vet for regular check ups. Living in captivity can be hard on a non domesticated animal, to be sure that they are staying healthy and happy it is important to take them to see a vet.

It may be a little more difficult to find a vet that specializes or even treats exotic animals, but with a little research you should be able to find one in, or around, your area.

Sugar Gliders have a life span of around 10 to 15 years, so be prepared to have a Sugar Glider for at least a decade. Before purchasing one make sure you are ready and able to care for it for that long.

Do Sugar Gliders Make Good Pets?

While Sugar Gliders can make a good pet it is not always advised to have one. The biggest concern is that they are not domesticated, so it is not natural for them to live in captive environments, and have not yet adapted to be kept as pets. This means they will take a lot more work and dedication, but they still may not be the happiest with their situation.

They require special diets, a large place to play and live in, and another Sugar Glider (or a lot of attention) to even begin to be in a suitable place. The owner needs to be very dedicated to the pet.

They are also nocturnal which is not an ideal sleep schedule for a household pet. They need quiet and darkened places to sleep during the day where they will be undisturbed and allowed to sleep. This also means they will be up all night, and may make noise in their cage throughout the night which may make it difficult to sleep.

Also, they are often times bred inhumanely and suffer conditions similar to puppy mills early in life. PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals) talks about the breeding and trading conditions of these Sugar Gliders saying:

“In the international pet trade, [Sugar Gliders] are bred in hellish facilities similar to puppy mills. Untold numbers of sugar gliders and other small animals are stuffed into tiny containers (sometimes even plastic water bottles) and shipped all over the world to be sold to unwitting consumers. Buying any animal funds this international network of suffering.”

PETA.org

If you are going to buy a Sugar Glider make sure you do research and find a humane and reputable breeder to buy from.

All that being said, many people have Sugar Gliders as pets that work out great, and both the owner and the Sugar Glider are happy with the circumstance. It’s all about being willing to put in the extra effort and work.

Sugar Gliders in The Wild

Sugar Gliders are not yet domesticated, which means they still have instincts and behaviors that reflect how they would act if they weren’t in captivity. Understanding where Sugar Gliders come from and what they face in the wild may help you better understand your own Sugar Glider and how to better treat and take care of them.

Common NameSugar Glider
Scientific NamePetaurus breviceps
TypeMarsupial Mammals
DietOmnivore

table information from National Geographic

Sugar Gliders are native to forests on the mainland of places such as Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. They live and make their nests in the holes of trees. They rarely come down to or even touch the ground. Sugar Gliders are omnivores, they mostly eat (and love) sweet things such as fruit, sap, and nectar, but they also eat live insects for protein.

They get the name “Sugar Glider” from their incredible ability to glide great distances, almost like they are flying. They have flaps of skin that reach from their farthest finger to their farthest toe on both sides of their body. They soar from tree to tree, spreading out their limbs to glide to where they need to go. They also use their tail (which is the same length as their body) to help them steer where they are gliding. They have been known to glide over 150 feet at a time.

To get a better understanding of how Sugar Gliders glide I linked a video of Sugar Gliders in the wild, gliding from tree to tree here.

Sugar Gliders have big, black eyes which is part of the reason of why they are such adorable creatures, but these eyes aren’t just to win your heart over. Sugar Gliders are Nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are awake all night. Their big, black eyes help them to better be able to see and get around in the dark.

Sugar Gliders are social animals and live in colonies of up to 15 or 20, consisting of adult males, adult females, and their young, but can also share a nest with up to 7 others. They communicate with others in their pack by making vocal noises, leaving scent trails, and touching one another.

Sugar Gliders are Marsupials which mean they develop in a pouch on their mother’s stomach. They are carried around in the pouch until they eventually spill or fall out. They then stay with their mother until they are about four months old then they are completely on their own.

Sugar Gliders have many natural predators, and often times don’t live past one year because of being vulnerable to said predators. These predators include but are not limited to snakes, owls, lizards, kookaburras, and foxes.

Fun Facts About Sugar Gliders

Now that you know all the useful information for owning a Sugar Glider, here are some fun and interesting facts about Sugar Gliders that you may not have known.

10 Fun Facts About Sugar Gliders:

  • Sugar Gliders are apart of the possum family.
  • The Sugar Glider’s scientific name, Petaurus breviceps, means “short-headed rope dancer”.
  • Sugar Gliders have opposable fingers and toes, making it possible for them to grab onto things, such as trees.
  • In the wild, Sugar Gliders rarely ever touch the ground, they usually just glide from tree to tree and stay in the canopy if the forest.
  • Sugar Gliders can die if they don’t get enough social interaction.
  • Sugar Gliders are only pregnant for 15 to 20 days, before giving birth.
  • Male Sugar Gliders have a bald spot on their heads.
  • You don’t need to bathe Sugar Gliders, they clean themselves by spitting into their hands and rubbing it across their body.
  • If treated properly, Sugar Gliders live longer in captivity than they do in the wild.
  • A Sugar Glider’s ankle bone can rotate 180 degrees to be able to climb up and down trees head first.

These facts will hopefully help you better understand Sugar Gliders, and teach you something you may have not known. Be careful before purchasing a Sugar Glider and make sure you are prepared and ready to handle the time and commitment it takes to own one.

Related Questions

What is the life span of a Sugar Glider in the wild? The life span of a Sugar Glider in the wild is six to eight years, while in captivity it is 10 to 15 years. This is due to the fact that in the wild Sugar Gliders have more threats such as predators, extreme weather, and illness.

What temperature is best for Sugar Gliders? Sugar Gliders prefer warmer temperatures ideally in the 80-degree range but can handle temperatures as low as 60 degrees or as high as 90 degrees.

Are Sugar Gliders Nice? Sugar Gliders are not naturally aggressive animals. Sugar Gliders are social animals, and after learning to trust their owner, they become very sweet and loving animals. If you spend the time to bond with and train your Sugar Glider, they will do very well with humans.

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