Exotic Pet Wonderland

Sugar Gliders

Content Image
a photo of a sugar gliders in front of a green background
Sugar Glider Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Petauridae
Genus: Petaurus
Species: Breviceps
Scientific Name

Petauridae breviceps

 

Conservation status

Least Concern

LIFE SPAN

9 years in the wild

12 years in captivity

Body size

4-5 oz

Native habitat

In the wild, sugar gliders are found in most of New South Wales, and well as southeastern Queensland in Australia. Sugar gliders are arboreal, and live in costal forests. 

Diet

Sugar gliders are omnivores, and are mainly foragers. Sugar gliders are most well known for feeding on sweet tree saps and gums, honeydew produced by insects, crystalized plant sap. This penchant for sweet foods is where sugar gliders get their name. Sugar gliders also eat insects, fruits and vegetables, and have even been known to feed on lizards and small birds.  

Sweet Sugar Glider Facts!

The sugar gliders kept in captivity as exotic pets were once thought to be the same species as the ones found in Australia, but are now assumed to be a separate species which is being called the Krefft’s glider

A large portion of a wild sugar glider’s diet is pollen, and the animals act as major pollinators for Australian wildflowers

Baby sugar gliders (called Joeys) spend 60 days in their mothers pouch, and their eyes don’t open until about 80 days after birth

Sugar gliders are social animals that live in colonies of up to seven adults, as well as their current babies 

Sugar Gliders are a type of gliding possum native to Australia

Australia is known for its marsupials and has about 120 species living on the continent, including sugar gliders. Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, and are a type of gliding possum (not to be confused with the American Opossum.) Despite not being related to them, sugar gliders act and like flying squirrels. This similarity is an example of Convergent Evolution, which is when species evolve similar traits at the same time, even when they are unrelated and in different locations. Another example of Convergent Evolution is with echidnas and hedgehogs both evolving spikes! 

Sugar gliders are small marsupials with partially prehensile tails. The sugar glider’s large eyes allow it to see at night, and are set far apart for better aim while gliding. In order to glide, the sugar glider has something called a “gliding membrane” on either side of its body that stretches from the fifth digit on the front leg to the first digit on the back leg. 

Sugar gliders photo with extended gliding membrane
Sugar gliders glide by launching itself from a tree or other high location and extending all four of its limbs in order to expose its gliding membranes. This generates lift like kite or sail and allows the sugar glider to glide up to 55 yards. 
 
Like raccoons, sugar gliders enter something called torpor in order to cope with cold weather. Torpor causes an animal’s heart rate and breathing to slow, as well as lowers the animal’s body temperature. Torpor allows sugar gliders to save energy in the winter when food is scarce.