Sugar gliders are tiny marsupials native to Australia. These unique and fascinating creatures have captured the interest of people everywhere. Considering these interesting sugar glider facts, it is easy to see why that is.
Sugar Glider Facts About Flying
They don't so much fly as glide, but they do take to the air. Here's what you need to know about sugar gliders and their impressive feats of airmanship.
Flying Is Right in the Name
The name for the sugar glider comes from the most obvious of observations. First, the animal prefers to dine on sugary substances, like sap or nectar. Second, it has the ability to glide in the air. The sugar glider uses a membrane, called a patagium, to help it sail from tree to tree.
They Can Steer Their Glide
Not only can this amazing animal sail through the air, leaping from tree to tree, but it can also steer where it sails. The sugar glider moves its limbs and adjusts the tension of its membrane to move in various directions, sometimes using its bushy tail as a rudder.
They Can Fly a Long Distance
As the sugar glider makes its way through the canopy, it sails about, not needing to stop very often. Aside from being able to steer its soaring, the sugar glider can also travel long distances while in the air. The sugar glider can glide nearly 150 feet in a single bound.
Don't Call 'em a Flying Squirrel
Many people wrongly assume that the sugar glider is a cousin of the flying squirrel. While these two animals share common characteristics, they are not related. The sugar glider is a marsupial, while the flying squirrel is a rodent.
Explore the Life of Sugar Gliders
Learn more about how sugar gliders live in the wild with these interesting facts.
They Crave Companionship
Sugar gliders prefer the companionship of other sugar gliders. These small animals will groom each other and communicate with one another. In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies containing up to 30 gliders in a single space. In captivity, sugar glider owners are strongly encouraged to own keep more than one of these animals in an enclosure. Sugar gliders are such social creatures; they have been known to perish because of loneliness.
There's No Need for Bath Time
Sugar gliders are very clean animals and will preen themselves all day long as if they are headed out to a big event. There is no need to ever bathe these scentless creatures as they take care of that task themselves.
Sugar Gliders Speak in Scent
Sugar gliders use scents for much more than marking their territories. They use their saliva to convey messages. The sugar glider's specific and individualized scent helps those in a community determine hierarchy. Because of the scents, everyone knows where one another falls in the chain of sugar glider power.
They Become Sudden Mothers
Sugar glider babies don't spend a lot of time baking in mom's belly. They are born after only a few weeks of gestation. From there, they crawl into their mother's pouch, where they stay and continue to grow for an additional 60 days. Once their eyes open, they begin to leave the pouch for short periods of time and are on their own completely roughly 110 days after being born.
Males Run the Show
In the wild, sugar gliders live together in colonies. In one of these colonies, it is common to have two alpha males running the show. These alpha males are often responsible for fathering the colony's offspring.
They Dwell in the Treetops
Sugar gliders live deep in the rainforests, high among the treetops, where there are predators who lurk beneath. These tiny animals rarely make a ground appearance, foraging for food up top in the canopy and making homes in tree trunks.
Sugar Gliders Put a Stamp on Their Homes
Sugar gliders like to make their nests special and unique. They don't roll out a welcome mat or put a fresh coat of paint on their nest walls; they personalize the space with their own bodily fluids. Sugar gliders each leave urine in their nest to tell others that they do indeed reside there. Sugar glider urine is as unique as a thumbprint, so there is no mistaking whose space is whose.
They're Nighttime Creatures
The sugar glider is most active during the evening hours and considered to be a nocturnal animal. It will also partake in a behavior known as torpor when the weather becomes chilly, sleeping for up to sixteen hours in the daytime to conserve energy.
They Back Off Predators With Scent
Aside from being able to spring into the air, gliding safely away from predators, sugar gliders have other means of survival that help them stay alive. When they sense danger, they will secrete an oily residue from their paracloacal glands. The secretion scent is similar to rotting fruit, not a super appetizing smell for animals wanting to make a meal out of them.
More Fun Facts About Sugar Gliders
If you can't get enough of these pint-sized cuties, there's always more to learn.
Sugar Gliders Run the Exotic Trade Industry
The demand for exotic pets continues to grow, and sugar gliders are one of the most commonly sold and traded animals in the exotic pet industry. Many pet owners wanting sugar gliders in their home have the greatest of intentions when it comes to providing love and care, but in truth, the best place for a sugar glider to live its life out is in the wild.
They Are Long Living Animals
A small animal such as the sugar glider sure lives for a very long time. When left in the wild, the sugar glider has a lifespan of around 10-12 years. In captivity, it lives slightly longer, at about 14 years on average.
They Don't Have Feet
Sugar gliders have four hands instead of two feet and two hands. Each hand is human-like, as they all have four fingers and one thumb. Every finger on the animal's body has a velcro claw on it that helps the sugar glider cling to whatever it lands upon.
Not Everyone Can Own a Sugar Glider
In recent years, sugar gliders have become very popular exotic pets, but not just anyone can own one of these fascinating creatures. Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania have banned owning them as have some major cities like New York City and St. Paul, Minnesota.
There Are Several Species of the Sugar Glider
To date, there are seven known sub-species of sugar gliders in the world. All species of the fascinating marsupial are native to Australia, Indonesia, and surrounding areas.
They Have Diverse Diets
While the sugar glider has a sweet tooth, hence its name, its diet is composed of far more than sugary treats. Sugar gliders are omnivores, feasting on saps, plants, and insects. Their diet doesn't stay the same throughout the year, and it actually changes along with the variation in seasons.
They Have Joeys
Baby sugar gliders are called joeys. Their cousins, and marsupial relatives, the kangaroos, and koalas also call their babies joys. The term joey stems from aboriginal language, where the term means "small animal."
Sugar Gliders Are Not Great House Guests
People who love a non-traditional pet seem to gravitate to the sugar glider, but these creatures don't make great house guests. Sugar gliders have specific living requirements, such as companionship, ample space, and specific dietary needs that sometimes go unaddressed by well-meaning caregivers. The best place for these wondrous animals is in the wild.
They Have Excellent Night Vision
Those big eyes of the sugar gliders are not just to enhance its cuteness. They allow the sugar glider to see very well in the darkness of night. These small animals have superb night-time vision, which helps them locate food during their active hours and keep close tabs on any predators that might be lurking about.
It often surprises people who have a chance to get up close and personal with a sugar glider just how tiny they really are. A fully grown sugar glider only weighs about 4 ounces and measures half a foot in length.
Pets of Wild Animals
Many people have jumped on the exotic pet bandwagon, craving ownership of some planet's unique and interesting creatures. Animals like the sugar glider are captivating but should be admired from afar. Even in the most well-meaning home, the sugar glider might lack what it needs to live out its very best life. Generally speaking, wild animals are meant to live in the wild.