Ask the Vet | Sugar gliders as pets

Sugar gliders are native to Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia and Papua-New Guinea, but you can buy them in Macau at the exotic pet shops. Their descriptive name comes from their love of sweet foods and a membrane that allows them to glide. Sugar gliders are marsupials which means that they raise their young in a pouch on the mother’s belly. They are small mammals and adults weigh between 100 and 140 grams.

Sugar gliders have gray fur and a cream colored chest and stomach with a black stripe running the full length of the spine. They have large, hairless ears that move independently of each other and are in constant motion to pick up sounds. 

The tail of the sugar glider is used for stability and balance. During gliding it acts as a rudder to control the direction of flight. A membrane of skin reaches from the wrist to the ankle and it is this membrane that gives them the ability to glide.

Sugar gliders recognise the people that handle them and express affection and displeasure. They are social animals and do better in pairs. Sugar gliders can be very vocal and loud and bark much like a small dog. 

Sugar gliders can live up to 15 years in captivity. They do need fresh fruit daily and a reasonably larger cage is necessary for their home. Although they do require some work, sugar gliders can make fun, enjoyable, and loving pets.


Your sugar glider’s diet should contain a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and about 1/4 of its food should have protein. Gliders tend to prefer fruits and vegetables that have a sweet taste. Gliders should not be fed raw sugar, sugar substitutes, candy and never give your glider chocolate. If possible, all fruits and vegetables fed to your glider should be fresh and not canned. Below are some of the items you could feed your pet.

Fruits and vegetables you could feed your sugar glider are apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet corn, figs, grapes, grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapples, sweet potatoes, and many others.

Small pieces of cooked lean cuts of meat or poultry without any additional spices or sauces are good sources of protein. Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, and tofu are also other protein options. 

Dry cat food and dog food can be used as a source of protein but should be used sparingly. These foods are not designed for sugar gliders and may not fill the nutritional needs of your pet.

Sugar Gliders love live insects. Crickets, mealworms, and earthworms are easily attainable insects. Don’t feed your glider insects that have been collected outside where they may have been contaminated with pesticides. Although great sources of protein, insects should only be used as treats due to their high fat content.

Nuts are extremely popular treats with sugar gliders. The nuts should be raw and unsalted and be given out sparingly. Although loved by gliders, nuts are high in fat.

Sugar gliders can sometimes be picky eaters. Even with a well balanced diet your pet may be lacking in important vitamins and minerals. Reptile multivitamin and calcium with D3 supplements can help make sure you have a happy healthy pet. Even though sugar gliders aren’t reptiles, the reptile supplements are convenient, affordable, and supply the needed dietary vitamins and minerals.

Even though sugar gliders drink very little and get most of their water from food, fresh water should always be available for your pet. A stoppered water bottle is a great way to keep water available.

Hope this helps

Till next week

Dr Ruan 

Ask the Vet:

Royal Veterinary Centre

Tel: +853 28501099, +853 28523678

Emergency: +853 62662268


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