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Having Fun with Your Sugar Glider

By: Rebecca Jones

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If it involves jumping, swinging, clinging or high-rise acrobatics, chances are your sugar glider will think it's fun. And when your sugar glider is having fun, you'll have fun watching his entertaining antics.

"They're like miniature monkeys," says Sharon Massena, a sugar glider breeder and owner of Massena's Menagerie in Auburn, Wash. "A lot of people just like to love them and pet them, or just watch them jump from thing to thing. If you hold them up, they'll fly down to the floor or whatever is below them. Gliding is a lot of fun for them."

Cat toys make favorite sugar glider accoutrements. So do ropes on which they can climb. Massena knows one sugar glider owner who has converted her living room into a sugar glider jungle gym, with ropes of varying lengths hanging from the ceiling, carpeted ledges for landing on and cat scratching posts and balls on the floor for ground-level play.

Bird toys such as branches or small swings also spice up a sugar glider's playtime. "Anything a small parrot would use, a sugar glider will love," Massena says.

One of the best ways to have fun with your sugar glider is simply to open up your coat or shirt pocket and invite the little fella to crawl in and spend the day. Being noctural animals, they tend to sleep all day. "Some people take them to work with them," says Massena. "I've taken mine to the bank with me, and people don't even know he's there."

Tips for Enjoying Your Sugar Glider

  • Maintain supervision. Don't let your glider roam the house unsupervised. While they may be sleepy-heads, virtually dead to the world during the day, come night-time, they wake up and are ready to exercise. If you take your eyes off them, they can disappear in a hurry. "You're running a big risk, letting them out of their cages unsupervised," Massena says. "They can hide in the tiniest places, and get into things they shouldn't."

  • Have your male sugar glider neutered. "Neutering just makes them nicer," Massena says. "No more scenting. And unneutered males tend to get a bald spot on their heads. I'd choose a neutered male for a pet every time."

  • Get two. "Sugar gliders are definitely group animals," Massena says. While one can survive without a companion, he typically won't thrive. Gliders crave companionship and you may not have the necessary time to socialize and play with him. It takes two to cuddle, and two can keep each other entertained when you don't have time.

  • Understand your commitment. When you adopt a glider, make sure you know how long you're committing yourself for. "Gliders can live up to 12 years, which is a real commitment. They're a really fun pet, but it's not like going down to the pet store and getting a hamster," Massena says.

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