Sugar Glider

Petaurus breviceps

Sugar gliders are small marsupials that inhabit the tropical forests of Australia and New Guinea. The species is nocturnal, sleeping in tree holes during the day and foraging for food at night. It has a special flap of skin extending from the front paws to the back ankles that enables it to glide from tree to tree. They are known to glide up to 150 feet.

In the wild, sugar gliders live in large family groups and eat a widely varied diet of insects, small animals, eucalyptus sap, and flower nectar. With proper care, they can live for 12 to 14 years in captivity.

Did You Know?

Sugar gliders are known to glide up to 150 feet.

Sustainability

Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

Despite habitat loss due to logging and forest management, sugar gliders are still widespread in the wild. Some are captured for the pet trade but they can be bred in captivity, reducing the demand on wild populations.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a sugar glider, ask for proof that it is captive bred from domesticated animals. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal.

 

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Unable to Rank

EcoHealthy Pets found no information on the invasion potential of sugar gliders.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Some Cause for Concern

Sugar gliders are social animals and should not be kept alone. Solitary individuals can become lonely and mutilate themselves (for instance, by chewing on their own feet and tail). Captive sugar gliders may also suffer from malnutrition and/or obesity because their natural diet (including live insects and flower nectar) can be difficult to reproduce.

Sugar gliders are susceptible to a life-threatening disease called toxoplasmosis that is carried by cats. Cats carrying the toxoplasmosis parasite will show no symptoms but can still transmit the disease.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Sugar gliders are not good pets for households with cats. Purchase pet sugar gliders in pairs rather than as single animals. Be sure to research the dietary requirements of sugar gliders and provide them with an appropriate cage to live in. The North American Sugar Glider Association can help you find this and other useful information (http://mynasga.org/).

Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

Sugar Gliders can carry Salmonella, which if ingested can cause vomiting and diarrhea and can be fatal to infants and young children, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is important to wash hands before and after handling an animal. Salmonella can be transmitted from exotic pets to all members of a household, even people who do not handle the pet directly.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Pet sugar gliders should not be allowed full run of a house, but should be kept in appropriate enclosures. Anyone handling a pet sugar glider should wash his or her hands thoroughly before coming into contact with any other people or objects in the house. Sugar gliders are not recommended pets for households with infants or small children. Before purchasing a non-traditional pet, ensure the animal was captive bred vs. wild caught. Be sure to ask if the animal has been checked by a veterinarian and obtain a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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