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Unusual Pets - The Sugar Glider

By: Alex Lieber

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Sugar gliders are marsupials native to Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia that have been blessed with the ability to fly – glide, rather – through the trees in their natural habitats. From a good height, they can take "flights" of more than 150 feet. In their native habitat they live in the trees as family groups. This communal living appears to be critical to their survival. They have a range of vocal signals that include chirps, whirring, and clicks.

They are one of six species of the family Petauridae, known as flying phalangers or flying opossums. What enables these animals to soar is a flap of skin called a patagium that stretches like a sail between their wrists and their ankles. They are intriguing animals that can be kept as pets, but if you are thinking of taking one on, think very, very carefully.

Sugar gliders weigh anywhere from 95-160 grams depending on their gender and measure up to 21 centimeters long. They are primarily gray with black stripes, and a lighter underside. Since they are nocturnal animals, they have large eyes for superior night vision. When sexual maturity is reached at about one year, the male glider develops a large patch of glandular tissue on top of the head that is often mistaken for a large scab, but is really a scent gland to mark territory.

They are delicate animals that need the company of others of their kind (to the point that a lone pet may stop eating and die) and are very difficult to feed.

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