Sugar gliders are one of the most adorable pets available in the world. Yes, these little marsupials are cute and cuddly, but there’s so much more to learn about these tiny creatures. If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a sugar glider, or simply want to learn more about these little flyers, read on below for 10 of the most interesting and fun facts you never knew.
The Origin of Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders, scientifically known as Petaurus breviceps, are Australian natives and are found mostly in the eastern part of the country in areas such as Tasmania and Queensland. These creatures can also be seen naturally in Papua New Guinea and the surrounding islands. These tiny animals prefer life in the rainforest, spending their time gliding through the trees. Wild sugar gliders live in hollow trees and in most cases, never spend time on the forest floor.
Physical Characteristics of Sugar Gliders
One of the best-known things about sugar gliders is their ability to fly through the trees at ranges up to 150 feet. This ability is made possible through the use of their patagium. This is a thin, stretchy membrane covered in fur that extends from their wrists to their ankles. Using their oversized big toes, these tiny gliders can grip trees making it easier to navigate life in the air.
Sugar gliders are marsupials. This means they give birth to immature younglings and must carry them inside a pouch just like their cousin, the kangaroo. This nurturing process usually lasts 60-70 days and is intended to keep the small babies safe from predators while they grow to maturity.
Large eyes are another characteristic of the sugar glider. As nocturnal creatures that hunt at night, big eyes make it easier to find food. As omnivores, small invertebrates and sugar-rich plants are their main dietary sources. These large eyes also give sugar gliders better vision for gliding by making it easier to triangulate their launches, descents, and landings.
Other common characteristics of the sugar glider are soft fur and sharp teeth. This is common in both the males and females of the species. Various scent glands are also shared between the sexes making it easier for them to mark their mates and territories.
10 Fascinating and Fun Sugar Glider Facts You Never Knew:
Now that you’ve met the sugar glider, learned about their origins, and a few of their most notable characteristics, it’s time to discover little-known facts you didn’t know about these creatures.
1. Their Name Hints At Their Food Preferences
Sugar gliders get their name from their love of sugar. In their natural habitat and captivity, these animals love including sweets in their diet. No matter the sweet treat, a sugar glider will enjoy it.
2. Sugar Gliders Are Loud
Sugar gliders are known to have a loud bark, often compared to that of a dog. Considering these tiny creatures are mostly nocturnal, pet owners may find themselves hearing quite a bit of noise when they should be sleeping.
3. Adult Sugar Gliders Are Quite Small
At full size, the adult sugar glider only measures up to 13 inches. Being so small, their weight is also minimal. At full growth, most gliders only weigh 4 to 5 ounces.
4. They Have Amazing Ears
A sugar glider’s ears are quite helpful. These ears move independently to help a sugar glider hear approaching predators or locate prey. These helpful ears are both hairless and constantly moving.
5. They Are Very Social
Sugar gliders are very social animals. This is one of the biggest reasons they bond so closely with their owners when kept as pets. This closeness makes them one of the most sought-after pets to have.
6. Male Sugar Gliders Have a Bald Spot
Every male sugar glider has a bald spot on top of their head. A scent gland, this spot appears as males reach sexual maturity and is used to help them mark their females, offspring, and territories.
7. They Like Having Big Families
As social animals, sugar gliders don’t like living alone. This is the same in the wild as in captivity. Sugar gliders prefer living in colonies in the forest. In this colony, it is common to find 7 to 9 adults and their children all cohabitating together.
8. Sugar Gliders Have Fingers on Their Hands and Feet
A sugar glider has four fingers on its hands and feet. Their opposable thumbs are mostly used to grip trees when they are gliding, but the fingers also stick very well to help them navigate life in the rainforest.
9. They Suffer from Depression in the End
Sugar gliders have an average life span of 10 to 12 years. If they are well cared for, this may be even longer when kept as a pet. When nearing the end of their time, a sugar glider will very often become depressed. This could be attributed to their sadness about leaving their colony or owner due to their need to be in a social setting.
10. They Are One of the Most Frequently Illegally-Traded Animals
The illegal animal trade affects several animal species on the planet. Unfortunately, the sugar glider is one of the most common. Due to their cuteness and demand for them as pets, these tiny animals are often stolen from their natural habitat illegally to be sold on the trade market.
Do Sugar Gliders Make Good Pets?
The answer to this question is yes. That is if owners have the time to dedicate to their new pet. As mentioned above, sugar gliders are very social animals. To stay in good health and avoid depression, these animals require company. If owners aren’t able to spend time with a sugar glider it may be best to avoid bringing one home. If a sugar glider is your dream pet, then perhaps adopting two to keep each other company is your best option.
The Appeal of Sugar Gliders
As you can see, sugar gliders are unique creatures with amazing abilities. Whether you own a sugar glider or simply find these creatures fascinating, learning more about them can enhance your respect for these animals. If you are preparing to bring a sugar glider into your home, read over these facts and prepare to welcome these tiny beings into your home and heart.
Featured Image Credit: Rachata Teyparsit, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.