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What is a Sugar Glider?

(Petaurus Breviceps)

A Sugar Glider is a small marsupial possum found in the tree tops of Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and Papua-New Guinea.  They are so named because they have a preference for sweet foods and a patagium (gliding membrane).  The gliding membrane is connected from the wrist to the ankle.  When not in use it is folded close to the body.  Sugar Gliders can glide 50 meters or 150 feet.  Each foot has five digits, and all are clawed, except the medial opposable large toe on each hind foot.  The second and third digits of each hind foot are partially fused and form a grooming comb.  The tail is used as a rudder to guide them. Sugar gliders are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees.  They go down on the ground occasionally to feed, but they are very vulnerable to ground predators as well as aerial predators.  Some of these predators include owls, kookaburras and eagles, dingos, snakes, goannas, foxes and quolls.  In the wild, the Sugar Glider uses its sharp incisor teeth to gouge holes in Acacia and Eucalyptus trees to expose the sugary sap and eat the honeydew which is the surplus sugars excreted by insects.  They also use their tongue to lap nectar from blossoms.  The Sugar Glider has 40 teeth and unlike rodents, Gliders teeth do not continue to grow.  Gliders are sap suckers by nature.  They will chew/suck the 'good stuff' out of their food and spit out the rest.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, a fact indicated by their large, round eyes.  Sugar gliders have many scent glands used for marking.  The main scent glands are on the forehead and the chest of the male and also found alongside the cloaca and surfaces of the paws, corners of the mouth, and inside surfaces of the ears.  Scent marking is used to mark specific trees in a territory and members of a family group. 
A Sugar Gliders gestation period in uterus is approximately  16 days.  At the end of this time the mother gives birth to one or two joeys (three and four are rare). The joeys are only .007 ounces and measure barely .2 inches when born. They make their way to the pouch and attaches itself to a nipple. It stays in the pouch for 76 to 80 days. If the joey becomes unattached from the nipple it will die.  For this reason do not peek in the mother’s pouch.  When the joey is ready and comes out of the pouch, it is called the "OOP" date. This stands for "Out Of Pouch".  The joeys eyes are closed and it has only some fuzz.  At ten days the joey’s eyes will open.  When the eyes open it will be a good time to start to hold your new joey.  It will still need it’s mother and father for the next 8 to 12 weeks:  Some joeys are ready to be pulled from their parents in 8 weeks and others need up to 12 weeks with their parents.  Sugar gliders maturity is 3-12 months for males and produce offspring their entire lifespan.
   Females between 5-18 months and can reproduce up to 4 times a year in captivity.  Females can reproduce until they are about 8 years of age and have one to four joeys; however, 1 to 2 joeys is the norm. 

                          General Glider Information

                                 Body length      6" to 8"    tail 6" to 8"
                                 Male weight    115 grams to 160 grams  Average 140 grams
                                 Female weight   95 grams to 135 grams  Average 115 grams
                                 Heart rate 200 to 300 beats per minute
                                 Respiratory rate 15 to 40 breaths per minute
                                 Body temperature is similar to ours, so if you are cold, so are they.
                                 Metric conversion   click here

Sugar Gliders in the wild live about 5 to 7 years. In captivity, they live 12 to 15 years.

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