Sugar gliders are basically the cutest little animals you’ll ever find in the world. They’re furry, fun-loving, and playful as well.
But in order to make them a part of your family for a long time, it’s important that you know all their little habits, quirks, unique traits, and qualities.
To take better care of the cute little creatures, you need to understand sugar glider behavior. And I have all the info on sugar gliders you need here, so let’s dive in.
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Understanding Sugar Gliders Behavior
What is there to know about sugar glider behavior? I’d say everything. For instance, did you know gliders are nocturnal mainly to avoid predators? Dr. Robert Ness, a veterinary expert, calls them night owls for a reason (1).
Let’s take an in-depth look at how pet gliders behave in different settings.
Sugar Glider in the Wild Behavior
Gliders in the wild have vastly different behavior from captive gliders. For instance, little marsupials in the wild live on trees where they can glide from tree to tree.
Your pet sugar glider can’t get that benefit since your house doesn’t have trees( does it?
Wild gliders mark their territory using their saliva. So, you’ll find that gliders only walk or live in certain parts of a tree trunk. You’ll find them living in tree hollows they’ve marked out with their scent glands.
The dominant male has scent glands on their forehead and chest. Thanks to the unique scent, the little marsupials recognize each other.
Gliders are like humans are social animals. Therefore, they live in groups. Each group has its leader, a dominant male glider. They can live in an area spanning an acre of forest land.
According to National Geographic (2), gliders in the wild live in groups of up to ten members. Living in groups comes in handy when temperatures are low since the gliders huddle together when sleeping to beat the cold.
Check: Sugar Glider Treats Recipes
Captive Sugar Gliders Behavior
Captive sugar gliders will behave differently from their counterparts in the wild. That’s normal since they live in different environments. But there are some behaviors common with both types.
For example, your critter still craves the social group typical of all native species in the wild. So, if you have a glider, you’ll have to dedicate several hours per day to be with them.
Another thing you can expect from your critter is for it to continue with the nocturnal behavior. So, you can’t feed it using human mealtimes.
It’s therefore advisable to leave fresh food for them before you go to sleep. They will eat and be awake at night, then sleep for most of the day.
They will also continue with their climbing behavior. That’s why their house or cage should have climbing structures.
Adult male gliders, even in captivity, will still want to mark their territory. The territory can be their cage or even you.
The most apparent behavior wild and captive gliders share is the love for sugary foods.
Although they can eat a wide range of foods, like children, sweet foods are their favorite. Now that we’ve seen how your glider will behave in captivity let’s see how it will show its love.
Do Sugar Gliders Show Affection?
My cat rubs himself against my body to show affection whenever I prepare his food. Sometimes he’ll come and sleep next to me. He doesn’t say it, but I know that’s how the little arrogant tin-god shows his love.
Gliders, too, show their affection for their owners. They do it in the following ways:
Did you think it’s only cats that purr? Think again. Even your glider will purr too. But unlike cats that purr to show they’re happy, gliders purr to show their affection.
While communication in sugar gliders varies, this is one of many ways they will communicate their love.
Trying to Get Your Attention
If someone loves you, they’ll try everything to get you to notice them. The same applies to your little marsupial. It will either produce some common sounds or come to you each time you open the cage.
The Glider Will Groom You
Yes, your glider loves you if you see it attempts to groom you. The grooming can be by scraping their teeth against your body or giving you little bites. Don’t worry; the bites won’t hurt you.
They Will Mark You
Remember earlier we mentioned that gliders often mark their territory with their scent? That’s what they’ll do to you when they are showing affection.
Your critter knows you and sees you as a friend, thus marking you to have you to itself. How adorable!
If you see any of the above signs, then you’ve gained the trust of your little furry friend, as this video explains.
How Do You Know When Your Sugar Glider is Bonded?
These adorable household pets will take some time to get used to their owners. It is just like humans when they meet new people. So how do you know that your pet glider has taken to you?
1. It is not afraid of you
Gliders will often take time to get used to new owners. So, in the early days, it will be afraid of you. But once it bonds with you, it stops being afraid of you.
2. You’ll be Inseparable
It is common to see a sugar glider owner go everywhere with the pet comfortable in their pockets. Sometimes they’ll be perched on the owners’ shoulders. That tells you the glider has bonded with the owner.
3. They Will be friendly
Rick Axelson, a veterinary doctor, says a glider can bite you if they deem you strange to them (3). New glider owners often wonder, do sugar gliders bite?
They do, especially if you haven’t bonded with them yet. The bites won’t be that painful.
How Do I Know If My Sugar Glider is Happy?
Besides having ways to show their affection, these cute pets also show you when they are happy.
According to veterinary experts at Long Island Bird and Exotics veterinary clinic, purring is the first thing you’ll see with a happy glider.
Purring is normal sugar glider behavior for both baby and adult sugar gliders. The purring I’m referring to here isn’t the loud sound you hear from cats. Instead, it is quieter and fainter.
And oh, they won’t only purr for their human caregivers. They also purr when with their fellow gliders. That’s a further testament to the love of gliders for their social group.
Dogs can bark out of fear, show affection, or alert someone of an intruder. But why do sugar gliders bark? If they are happy, they will purr. But when you hear barking, they are simply seeking your attention.
A baby sugar glider will bark to get the attention of its mother. Therefore, barking is a form of communication for your furry pets, just as it is for dogs.
How Do You Get a Sugar Glider to Trust You?
Did you know if your glider doesn’t trust you, it could feel lonely? Steve Dale writing for the Chicago Tribune, says loneliness can lead to sugar glider depression.
Depression affects their mental health and could even kill your critter!
So how do you get your sugar baby to trust you? Here are several ways that worked for my friends:
Tone Down on the Love Bombing
The first few weeks after they come home, take it slow. Don’t rush to cuddle or snuggle them. Gliders are attractively cute, and the temptation to snuggle them will be high.
But it’s better to ease them into their new environment by holding back love bombing them.
Although the critters have vast nutritional requirements, you can’t go wrong by giving them some sugary snacks. Sweet fruits will get them to trust you fast.
A critter can’t trust you if it rarely sees you. You need to create time out of your daily schedule and spend it with them.
Get a Bonding Pouch
A glider can’t bond with you if it doesn’t trust you. So how about getting a bonding pouch that will encourage the sugar baby to start trusting you?
How Do I Get My Sugar Glider to Calm Down?
Certain times the glider will lose its cool. An anxious glider is a problem, especially for an owner that doesn’t know how to calm it down. Here is what you can do when that happens:
First, gently rock them as you hold them against your chest. You can rub them slightly like you would a baby till they calm down. It’s easier and faster if you have a bonding bag like this video explains.
Why Is My Sugar Glider Crying?
When you see your sugar glider crying, it can be for a few reasons. They could be afraid, want your attention, warn an aggressor or show their fear.
Whenever you hear your glider crying, check on it to see if it’s any of the above reasons or if they are merely agitated.
Can sugar gliders learn their name?
Gliders are pretty intelligent and can learn their name with time. The name needs to be simple enough for them to know it. After some time, they’ll learn and come when you say their name.
Do Sugar gliders recognize their owners?
Yes, a glider will recognize its owner, especially if bonded to them.
Hope you now understand sugar glider behavior to take better care of your cute little pet. What other sugar glider behavior have you seen in your furry friend but don’t know what it means?
Share with us in the comments, and let’s help you interpret it.
What do you think of the sugar glider’s behavior? Let us know below!
- 1. Archive VA, feed G author R. SUGAR BABIES: WANT TO OWN THE NEWEST EXOTIC PET? THINK AGAIN [Internet]. New York Post. 2003 [cited 2022 Apr 22]. Available from: https://nypost.com/2003/03/09/sugar-babies-want-to-own-the-newest-exotic-pet-think-again/
- 2. Sugar Glider Facts [Internet]. Animals. 2018. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/sugar-glider
- 3. Sugar Gliders – Owning [Internet]. vca_corporate. 2009. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/sugar-gliders-owning
Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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