Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sugar Gliders

These little cute bug eaters are a request by a good friend…What eats bugs, drinks sap, looks like a squirrel with big eyes and can glide? The sugar gliders! They get their name for their love of tree sap. There are a few unique things about these little critters, which I will share with you.

Sugar gliders are actually gliding possums (it is a good thing they do not look like a possum), they are mostly a greyish colour on their backs and sides with black stripes in various places. There is usually a black line that goes from between their eyes to their lower back. The tail fades from grey to black as you get closer to the tip. Sugar gliders bellies, chest and neck are a cream colour, they have big black eyes and they are (as a lot of people would say when they see a picture of them) CUTE! Sugar gliders will have all people around the world go "aaaawwwwwwww". Sugar gliders have a prehensile tail which means that can grip and hold things with their tails and they have pouches, as they are marsupials.

Sugar gliders eat bugs, some plants, fruit and tree sap so they have plenty of food sources. When their food source is scarce they can actually slow down their metabolism, lower their body temperature and use less energy so they need less food, this is a form of hibernation called torpor but they do not good to sleep; they mostly just slow down and not move much.

What makes sugar gliders able to glide are the patagium on each side, this is a thin membrane that extends from the fifth finger to the first toe. They can change direction and speed by adjusting the curvature of the membrane and they can do this by moving their legs and arms. Sugar gliders also have a few scent glands which they use for marking but the males have a scent gland on their forehead that can be seen easily because it is a bald spot, kind of like that balding uncle everyone has.

The females have a pouch, which they will raise their joeys in and they will have one to two joeys at one time. Sugar gliders can raise young rather well in captivity like zoos and wildlife reserves but they do not raise young well when kept as ‘exotic pets’ as they needs lots of room to glide from tree top to tree top. Keeping the sugar glider as a pet is appealing because they are so cute but it is not fair to the sugar glider, it would be like keeping a lion as a house pet, they need more room.

So, if you want to see a super cute creature gliding through the skies that has the ability to slow its metabolism down in times of trouble, look no further than the sugar glider!


  1. I love sugar gliders,love those big eyes.
    Thank you for sharing this post, it's really informative.

  2. I am glad you liked this and found it informative. That is my goal to share information that you may not about a variety of different creatures.

  3. I have four little gliders as "exotic pets" (thanks for making me feel bad about that) but they get let out of the cage to play and glide very frequently so I think they function just fine, but that isn't my point. As I love my gliders I very often read up on them and this article is the first I have seen about sugar gliders being able to slow their metabolism in order to use less energy. So thanks :)

  4. was doing a report on exotic pets and ran into this......I love sugar gliders!!!!

  5. I wouldn't want to keep sugar gliders indoors (sorry, Randi), but what about creating an inviting environment for them outdoors? The right kinds of plants to attract the right kind of bugs, a water source -- ??? Does anyone ever do this?

    1. Actually, indoors is the only place to keep them. You just have to give them free reign in an entire large room if you want them to be happy. (Under Australian law, you need to have a decently large cage. And a permit.) In urban areas, gliders in outdoor cages tend to get menaced by cats.

      If you happen to live in the gliders' natural habitat, (Forest-ey areas of Australia's eastern seaboard and points north) I suppose there's no harm in making your back yard glider-friendly, although i don't like your chances of actually attracting wild gliders.

  6. They *do* look like a possum - an Australian possum. What with being native to Australia and Indonesia. Much cuter than American possums. Ugly things. *shudder*

    I keep sugar gliders. You are right to discourage people from getting them as pets - Unless you know *exactly* what you're doing and have plenty of room for them to glide, it's a bad idea. Few things I hate more than when animals suffer because some idiot bimbo has gone "awww, it's so cute, i want one." I have 4 currently. They're awesome.

    Their scientific name is Petaurus Breviceps, which roughly translates to "Bouncy Little-cling." FYI.