1. Cons To Sugar Glider Ownership

Coraline
We all know why we want a glider. They are cute, smart, playful, cute, loving, inquisitive, oh and did I mention they are cute? I love presenting the cons of ownership right up front. If you are wanting a sugar glider, make sure to read the following list very carefully. This information is not put here to talk you out of getting a sugar glider. These are just a few things to consider before you commit to a pet with a lifespan of 15+ years in captivity. As a longtime owner of these fascinating animals, I can tell you a thing or two about what it means to be a sugar glider slave.


1. You will get peed and pooped on. There is no such thing as a potty trained sugar glider. At best, you can place a paper towel under their bum when they first wake up and come out on you. Sometimes, a bit of stimulation will get them to go. This is no guarantee that they won't decide to potty on you again later.

2. You will get bit/nipped/super groomed. No, gliders are not nasty, aggressive critters, but they do have teeth. We humans aren't very good at speaking sugar glider so when they need to make a point, you might get nipped. I have not been bitten by all of my gliders. Gizmo has only nipped me once and it was after I handled another intact male and didn't wash my hands before reaching for Giz. |He didn't even break the skin, but he did bite me. Most nips from sugar gliders hurt my feelings more than my actual person. Then there is my other suggie, Kibble. He is the sweetest little guy! He would never hurt a fly! But, he will groom my cuticles which can hurt! He uses his bottom teeth to dig at my nail bed. This is actually a sweet gesture from a sugar glider, but it can be painful. Bonding with your sugar glider could be a long process that involves earning trust from your new pet. It took me a full year to form a bond with my first sugar glider, Stitch. I took a lot of bites from that boy to show him I wasn't afraid. At times, I wanted to give up on him. I never did. I stuck it out and it paid off. One day he decided that he loved me (and nobody else). He was a great little friend after that and he went everywhere with me. Are you willing to take the bite over and over? Are you willing to stand strong through your frustrations to form a bond with this animal? Consider this before you bring that cute ball of fluff home with you. 

3. Sugar gliders are expensive. One standard gray sugar glider sells for between $150-200 on average in my area. Other color variations (white face blond, lion, leucistic, etc) can cost between $250-2,300. Other rare colors (creamino, albino, mosaic) will cost you even more! To get a SUITABLE cage is usually another $125-300. One cage set will run you about $60. The wheel is another $25-35. Food can be pricey depending on diet. You can't exactly buy bee pollen at the grocery store either, so be prepared to order some ingredients online or to spend time searching for the correct ingredients. You are also constantly tossing rotten fruits and veggie out and buying fresh. Then there is vet care. Sugar gliders don't get sick often, but when they do it's usually a very pricey ordeal getting them treated because it requires the right vet to do the job. On one glider alone, I spent over $500 on emergency vet care (which was actually a deal) and we still lost him. That is just part of sugar glider ownership. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD THE VET CARE, YOU CAN'T AFFORD THE PET. 

4. They are messy and can smell. I spot clean all five of my cages everyday which involves pulling out old food that's been tossed about, wiping out wheels, and cleaning any toys that are needing it (not all of them at once though). Once a week, I clean out the bottom tray and wipe down the entire cage inside and out. Once a month, I do an entire cage overhaul where I clean everything and replace all pouches and fleece toys but I do not clean any toys. I never clean the whole cage at one time. If you have males (some females can be pretty bad about it too though) that mark their territory, you have to leave them something that smells familiar. If you clean out the entire cage from top to bottom, they will go to town remarking the entire cage. Whew! That can be quite the odor! I've learned to always leave one "stinky" thing in the cage at all times be it toys, a few pouches, or some fleece blankets. So, you won't ever really have a 100% clean cage. Neutering males can help with odor too. Most strong scent comes from males and neutering them really cuts back on that (and can make them friendlier). However, sometimes there is that one glider that just has a strong scent. You could end up with that glider and if you do, are you willing to commit to him/her anyway? I've been lucky and have had all very mild smelling gliders. I think they smell like brown sugar. It helps to keep them on a good glider approved diet (see Diet page). 

5. Finding a vet is hard. Sugar gliders are exotic animals. It can be hard to find a doctor that can treat them. I was lucky enough to find a great vet in a neighboring state that is only 30 minutes away. But, in case of emergencies, I have a back-up local vet that is less than two minutes from my house. I found these vets BEFORE I ever brought a glider home. YOU SHOULD TOO. Sugar gliders are nocturnal and because of this, most emergencies occur late in the evening or at night. Having a vet that can treat your glider during these late night hours can be the difference between life and death.

6. They require a ton of YOUR time.
Bonding time (no less that two hours per day), playtime (no less than one hour per day), cleaning time, prepping diet, serving diet, clipping nails, and more! Sugar gliders are not a low maintenance pet. They are not good pets for children because they can easily be injured by a curious toddler that simply doesn't know any better. They are also pretty high maintenance. If you want a low maintenance pet for a child, save yourself some money and trouble and get a hamster or a pair of guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are fantastic pets too and are so much easier to care for. Rats are a surprisingly good pet as well. They are loyal, smart, and clean!

7. They may be illegal. Sugar gliders are not legal in every state and in some cases, they are not legal in certain cities within certain states. Owning a sugar glider in an illegal state is a terribly irresponsible thing to do. Finding a vet is hard enough, but in an illegal state vets that could treat sugar gliders won't usually say so because they can get in trouble for doing it! If you are caught with the sugar glider the punishment can vary from a fine and confiscation of the animal to destruction of the animal and confiscation of any other pets in the household plus a hefty fine. It simply isn't worth the risk. I feel the same way about keeping them in college dorms. If the pet isn't allowed, don't be irresponsible and sneak it in. The repercussions can be severe for all involved including expulsion of the student from school. 

8. They are nocturnal. This may not appear to be a problem at first and it may never be a problem at all. However, it is certainly something to consider. If your typical bedtime is 10:00pm, these guys might not be for you. I'm usually up until at least midnight with my sugar gliders. If you house them in your bedroom, you will hear all of their nighttime activity while you're trying to sleep. They bark, run in wheels, leap around, and toss toys. I know this doesn't bother everyone, but again, it's something to consider. Remember, just because it doesn't bother you doesn't mean it won't bother any other person that may be sharing your room with you. 

9. No matter how much you prepare, you may still be disappointed with your pet. I know that this is true because I see it all the time. Unfortunately, sugar gliders are popping up in rescues all over. Sugar glider rescues are full to the brim with gliders that need good homes. These gliders were all, for one reason or another, surrendered to these rescues. I'm sure that at least some percentage of those people loved their sugar glider(s), but just ended up overwhelmed by the special care. It's easy to say you'll do it, but when it comes down to it, will you? Will you clean out that cage like you should? Will you take your glider to the vet even if you aren't positive it's sick? Will you interact with your sugar glider every single day? Will you keep your sugar glider when you go off to college/travel for work/get a divorce/have a baby/are forced to move/etc? A lot can happen in 15 years. 

You still want a sugar glider? Keep on reading. 
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