Merck Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Special Considerations for Sugar Gliders


Rosemary J. Booth

, BVSc, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2020 | Modified Oct 2022

Because sugar gliders are nocturnal, they should be kept in a fairly quiet area and allowed to sleep during the day. They can be easily stressed if awakened and taken out of their cages in daytime hours. This can increase the risk of illness. Sugar gliders are most active and playful in the evenings and at night. This is also when they are most vocal.

Sugar gliders should be provided with a large cage that is both sturdy and safe. Injury can result if the proper enclosure is not provided ( see Housing Housing Before bringing home a sugar glider, make sure you have made arrangements for suitable housing, diet, and exercise. Sugar gliders are very active, playful, intelligent, and inquisitive animals... read more ). A sugar glider should never be allowed to roam unsupervised outside of its cage because this may lead to injury. Bite wounds from other pets or other household hazards could be deadly.

The sharp claws of sugar gliders sometimes get caught in the fabric of clothing or other objects. Care must be taken when freeing them from the cloth or object; their toes, wrists, or ankles could easily be broken.

Sugar gliders are not domestic animals, and it is illegal to own them in certain states in the United States. Check with the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal Care office in your state to find out whether the laws in your area permit ownership of sugar gliders. If you own 4 or more breeding female sugar gliders, you may be subject to the Animal Welfare Act, which may require you to obtain a license and register your pets.

Behavioral disorders can occur in sugar gliders housed alone, with incompatible mates, or in inappropriate cages. Sugar gliders should have a secure nest box or pouch. Anxiety may lead to overgrooming and fur loss, particularly at the base of the tail. Deliberately causing injury to themselves, overeating or undereating, abnormally excessive thirst, eating their own droppings, cannibalism, and pacing are also associated with stress. Paraphimosis (persistent protrusion of the penis) has also been reported in adult male sugar gliders. This may result in trauma to the penis requiring surgical removal.

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