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Unique Pets: Sugar Gliders, Degus, and Chinchillas

It’s no secret that fish, cats, and dogs are the most popular pets in America. However, CBS News reports that exotic pets are becoming more common. And we’re not talking about parrots; we’re referring to unique pets like sugar gliders, degus, and chinchillas. More than 151 million of these animals are living in homes across the U.S. Today, we’ll be discussing these fascinating creatures to help you find out if one of them would make a good pet for your household!

Sugar Gliders

This marsupial is native to Indonesia, New Guinea, Tasmania, and Australia. Sugar gliders are part of the flying opossum family, and they have flaps of skin between their front and back legs that allow them to glide through the air when they jump off of a high surface. They’re pretty small, and they’re adorable, too. An adult sugar glider’s body is (on average) five to seven inches long, and it usually weighs four to six ounces.

If you’ve considered keeping a rodent, such as a hamster or a gerbil, you might want to look into sugar gliders, too. Sugar gliders can make better pets for the right family. For starters, they tend to live longer than a typical rodent. Sugar gliders have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, so if you decide to get one of these unique pets, you’re investing in a long-term relationship. That bond can grow deeper than the one that you might form with a hamster.

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Sugar gliders are just as smart as dogs. They can learn their names and do tricks. In fact, these social creatures tend to form a strong connection with their owners. This can make them an extremely rewarding pet to own. Once your sugar glider has bonded with you, it will enjoy snuggling up with you. Some people even carry their sugar gliders around in their pockets or small pouches.

Sugar glider care isn’t as complex or intensive as you may think. These animals need a large wire cage with platforms that let them climb and glide. They love to play, so including perches, wheels, and ropes can help them get their energy out and stay stimulated. You’ll have to remove waste from the cage on a daily basis and clean it out thoroughly at least once a week. Sugar gliders love to eat fruits, veggies, mealworms, crickets, and even baby food. You can also purchase pellets of food that are specially made for them. Caring for your sugar glider isn’t hard, but you should allow plenty of time to bond with this cute little creature. Trust us, it’ll be worth the effort.


Degus (pronounced DAY-goo or DEE-goo) are rodents that are also known as brush-tailed rats. They’re about the same size as a sugar glider. One of the characteristics that make the degu different from other rodents is that it’s diurnal. That means that it is most active during the day and sleeps at night. Consequently, you won’t have to worry about this pet keeping you awake until the wee hours of the morning.

These curious, playful animals are very social. In the wild, they live in large communities. At home, they like to live with other degus. They can become tame and friendly as they adapt to being handled, but they can act crazy if they don’t have enough socialization. If you’re thinking about getting a degu, you might want to purchase more than one. In most cases, degus live for about six to eight years, so they’re a great choice for families in need of a long-term companion.

Caring for a degu isn’t too complicated. They need a large wire cage with a solid bottom. Cages with multiple levels give degus plenty of space to play, exercise, and hide. Just make sure that all of the platforms are solid. Wire surfaces can cause foot problems in these animals. Place a cozy box in the cage for the degu to sleep in, and use paper-based bedding material.

One of the most important items to have in the cage is an item that your degu can chew on. Degus are avid chewers. Their water sipper should have a chew guard, and you should use ceramic bowls for food. Wooden blocks, branches, thick cotton ropes, chew toys, and mineral blocks can give your degu plenty of opportunities to nibble on things.


Chinchillas are adorable rodents with large ears and slightly bushy tails. They’re soft and cuddly, making them hard to resist, and they usually live for around 10 to 20 years.

Chinchilla care involves providing a large, tall cage for the animal. They have strong hind legs and are known to jump from the floor to the top of a refrigerator. Consequently, they need a number of multi-level platforms in their cages. They also need a cozy place to hide. Because their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, chinchillas need chew toys in their cages. If you let them out of their cage and leave them unsupervised, they might chew on your furniture.

Chinchillas aren’t as social as degus and sugar gliders. They are often shy, although they adapt well to handling. However, they may be better suited for older children rather than younger kids. Little ones can be too rowdy for these gentle creatures. Feed your chinchilla specialized food, and offer some grass hay at all times. You’ll also need to give your chinchilla a regular dust bath to keep them clean.

What to Know About Owning an Exotic Pet

Sugar gliders, degus, and chinchillas are legal to own in this country. However, they must be cared for properly. You’ll need to make sure that you have the time and the resources to look after your new pet. You must also find a vet that can treat them. Last but not least, be prepared for constant requests from friends, family, and acquaintances to see and pet them! You’re about to become very popular.