What is a Sugar Glider?
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".
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.
Sugar Gliders in the wild live about 5 to 7 years. In captivity, they live 12 to 15 years.