Gliders 101

Dog and cat ownership is common enough that most of us know not to feed dogs chicken bones or leave a declawed cat outside.  But we find many new glider parents who aren't aware of the basics, such as the need for a proven diet, minimum cage sizes, bonding, using toys, vets who specialize in glider care, and all of the other things gliders need to thrive.

This site is designed to introduce you to some of the basics and connect you with the best information we've found on the web on glider care. For a comprehensive resource to keep at your fingertips, we recommend Peggy Brewer's book. Order here.


 
Diet
One of the biggest areas of misinformation concerns diet. Though there are several proven diets available, Hope for Gliders is a big believer in BML—the Bourbon's Modified Ledbetter diet . Many of the gliders that come to us are malnourished, and BML has never failed to get them healthy. We also find that it is the easiest to prepare and feed. Though it may take a bit to get the hang of it the first time, once you've done it, it becomes a snap. The best part is that one batch can feed two gliders for a month. To link to directions for making it, click here. Gliders also need access to water which can be served from a small pet waterbottle or shallow bowl. (Shallow enough that they cannot drown in it.)

Gliders love snacks and snacks can be a great resource for bonding. One of the most nutritious is live meal worms. Seeing how much your little guy loves mealies will help you get over the "ick" factor (most pet stores sell plastic tweezers). Other snacks include fresh fruit, dried unsulfured papaya, dried unsulfured coconut, yogurt drops, pine nuts (in limited quantities), peas, and "lickey treats" which could be yogurt, applesauce or baby food. (Hawaiian Delight and chicken with apples are favorites.) When choosing snacks avoid all artificial sweeteners, colors or other non-natural ingredients.

Housing. Though many breeders will give you a cage with your purchase, it likely won't be big enough. Minimum cage size for a pair of gliders is 3 feet high by 2 feet wide with no more than 1/2 inch bar spacing. There are several sources for cages online, but shipping can be really expensive. You can shop bird cages at your local pet store, but one of our favorite suppliers for both price and quality in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Lois's Birds at Trader's Village. Avoid galvanized steel cages because they can rust and cause urinary tract infections in male gliders.


Sugar gliders are intelligent and need an engaging environment. You need to stimulate your gliders mind with interesting things to look at touch, smell and play with. If your glider is neglected in this area you may have health issues along with behavior problems. Make sure you provide your glider with playtime and toys. Most toddler toys are glider safe including, fun rings, barrel of monkeys, small plastic beads, empty spools of thread,and safe glider wheels. (Hampster wheels are dangerous for gliders because they can catch the glider's tail.)

Our gliders really like the Fisher Price Little People barns, boats, and houses, so we have them in all of our cages. Suzanne Enyedi has some easy to make no-sew cage accessories on her site at Suz Sugar Gliders.
Reptariums are large travel cagees. Do a web search for good prices on the reptariums large enough for gliders.

Bonding and Socialization
One of the most special things about sugar gliders is the need for socialization. Though some breeders will sell single gliders, we've seen over and over that gliders do much better in pairs or colonies. You may have heard the fallacy that if a glider bonds to another glider it will not bond to you. Untrue! Gliders are capable of a lot of love and if you spend time with them and give them respect, they will grow to love you. An important thing to consider is that gliders form strong bonds and can become despondent when the bond is broken. A glider's life span is 15 years. Before bringing home a glider, you will need to consider if you are offering them a forever home.

We often tell people that night time is for playing and daytime is for bonding. Snuggling your sugar glider and petting them when they are sleepy in their pouch is a great way to connect. Another useful technique is "tent time." Playing with your gliders in a tent allows them freedom to roam without a mad dash somewhere you can't coax them out of. We've found some great tents made just for this purpose at Stitches Glider Haven. For more information on bonding, click the link above..

Neutering Male Gliders Having your male glider neutered reduce the number of offspring and the need for males to scent mark. The cost for neutering varies by vet. In the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, it runs from about $45 - $75 and is a day surgery. Young gliders are usually good as new in 24 hours. Older gliders may need 36 hours. We've learned to be suspicious of breeders who offer to neuter their male gliders for you and prefer to use a reputable veterinarian.

Glider Anatomy One of our owners thought something was definitely wrong with her male glider the first time she saw its bifurcated penis. If you want to learn more about your glider's anatomy, or if you aren't sure if you have a male or female, visit this site.

Caring for a Rejected Joey Most of the time, the parents care for their young and teach them all they need to know. However, sometimes a joey is rejected. For our advice on caring for a rejected joey, click here.

List of Toxic Plants Gliders are curious and sure to check out your houseplants, yet many are toxic to gliders. Visit this link for the toxic plant list.

Caring for a Colony
Sugar gliders form special bonds with their offspring and mates. Keeping them together ensures that bond remains intact. Colonies can live together but males must be neutered to prevent inbreeding within the colony. Here at Hope for Gliders we make sure all males are neutered.

We have experience with colonies of up to 6 gliders that live in peace and harmony. When you adopt a colony cage you will enjoy seeing them interact, play and even show compassion to each other. We have seen acts of kindness between the gliders that are amazing. Holding hands, hugging, sharing of foods and treats is not unusual behavior. When you adopt a colony cage you have just one cage to wash--though it will be a big one. Some will put in several feeding stations, but we have not found this to be necessary in most of the colony cages.

Large cages, up to 6 feet are recommended. Multiple pouches, toys and wheels provide enrichment and sleeping places for gliders who need a break from being stepped on or who need a little alone time