Description and Physical Characteristics of Sugar Gliders

ByRosemary J. Booth, BVSc, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services
Reviewed/Revised Jul 2020

Sugar glider membrane

Sugar gliders are generally 5 to 12 inches (13 to 30 centimeters) long, with a tail that is 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 centimeters) long. Their fur is bluish-gray with a pale belly and a dark stripe that runs down the back. Sugar gliders are similar to flying squirrels and have gliding membranes that allow efficient movement. These gliding membranes are called patagiums and stretch from the wrists to the ankles. Sugar gliders can glide up to 164 feet (50 meters) using their tails to steer and balance.

Female sugar gliders have stomach pouches in which the young develop. Mature males have a scent gland on the forehead that looks like a bald spot. They have a similar scent gland on the throat and near the base of the tail, which they use to mark each other and their territory. Males weigh 4 to 6 ounces (110 to 160 grams), and the slightly smaller females weigh 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 140 grams).

Sugar gliders are nocturnal, which means that they are most active at night and sleep throughout the day. They make noises such as chirping, barking, and chattering. They feed on insects and on the sap, gum, and nectar from various trees and plants. In the wild, they live in colonies that nest in tree hollows. Sugar gliders are generally strong and healthy when proper husbandry practices are followed. On average, they live 9 to 12 years in captivity. ( See table: Sugar Gliders at a Glance.)


For More Information

Also see professional content on sugar gliders.

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