Thinking of getting a sugar glider? If you’re deciding to keep a sugar glider as a pet, an important factor to consider is whether or not to get more than one companion.
In short, no, it is not a good idea to keep sugar gliders alone. While there are rare exceptions, sugar gliders tend to have a poor quality of life without a companion.
Do you need more details, or are you someone who already has a lone sugar glider? Read for more information on how to make sure your companion is as happy as possible!
Why sugar gliders should not be kept alone?
Generally speaking, it is better for pet owners to get at least two sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders form colonies in the wild.
Sugar gliders are, by nature, very social animals. They can form colonies of up to 30 members in the wild when including that season’s offspring.
To reinforce communal bonds, sugar gliders vocalize, play, share food as well as scent, and groom each other.
Sugar gliders are incredibly loyal and loving to one another, and they need those bonds in order to thrive.
This includes interaction both with their owner and other sugar gliders. Without proper social interaction, one can suffer from mental, emotional, and even physical distress.
Just as sugar gliders are happy with their companions, they are prone to loneliness and boredom, and loneliness and boredom are just as dangerous in sugar gliders as it is in people, if not more so.
Sugar gliders can become depressed.
They get stressed if they lack the proper socialization to the point where they can become depressed.
Depressed sugar gliders can suffer from behavioral issues, are harder to form bonds with, and are more likely to bite.
Signs of a stressed sugar glider can include circling around in their cage to try and alleviate their boredom and either an excessive appetite or loss thereof.
A loss of appetite can lead to malnutrition, and excessive eating can lead to obesity, which leads to their own set of health problems.
In extreme cases, they can overgroom and bite themselves to the point of self-mutilation. These wounds can become infected and cause many health problems if left untreated.
If the stress and depression get bad enough, the sugar glider can even die.
Best companions for a sugar glider
Another sugar glider
No surprise, by far the best partner for your sugar glider is another sugar glider.
After all, no other animal can understand the sounds, smells, and signals of a sugar glider the way they can understand each other.
When bonded, sugar gliders rarely spend a moment apart. They eat, play, and sleep together. To compete with this level of loyalty is nearly impossible. There is no better substitute.
Even if a sugar glider should be with another, it should not be understated how important it is for you to spend time with your pet as well.
They depend on you for food, water, and enrichment, which automatically means they want to bond with you. You are a part of their colony.
Cats and Dogs
Interestingly enough, because sugar gliders have their own distinct scent different from cats’ and dogs’ natural prey, it is not uncommon for cats and dogs to get along.
They may not be able to play together in the traditional sense, but a cat or dog is like a giant, warm, fuzzy pillow to a sugar glider.
Just as a sugar glider may like to ride on you or another sugar glider, they may also enjoy piggyback rides from a canine or feline companion.
Be sure, however, to take necessary safety precautions. Introduce the animals slowly and never leave the animals alone together. The safety of the sugar glider and the cat or dog is top priority.
Other small mammals
Rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other small mammals can also form bonds with a sugar glider. These animals are social, just like sugar gliders.
The bond, of course, won’t be as strong as with other members of their species, but they enjoy playing all the same with minimal safety risk to either animal.
As with cats and dogs, though, be careful. Never leave these animals together alone.
What animals do NOT make good companions?
This mostly comes down to common sense.
Animals that tend to not be cuddly, live solitary lives, or otherwise may even pose a danger to your sugar glider or vice versa will probably not make a good companion for a sugar glider.
Most snakes and lizards, for example, live solitary lives. They would have no interest in forming a bond with a sugar glider and may have more of an interest in making a meal out of your furry friend.
Tarantulas and other spiders are out for the same reason. Tarantulas can prey on some surprisingly large animals. So, a tarantula and sugar glider pose more risk to each other than anything else.
On the other hand, many large birds are social but should still be kept separate from sugar gliders due to their natural prey drive towards small, furry animals.
How to keep a single sugar glider happy?
While it’s not advised to keep sugar gliders alone, maybe circumstances limit that you can only get one, or perhaps already have only one.
In this case, owners need to take extra care to ensure their pets are kept happy and healthy.
You are now the sugar glider’s colony.
Something to remember is that without the company of another sugar glider, you will be the sole source of socialization for yours.
With this in mind, owners should spend at least 2 hours a day with their sugar glider.
This may seem like a lot, but it is essential to ensure your sugar glider stays healthy. Loneliness can kill a sugar glider.
Add enrichment to your sugar glider’s space.
Without a playmate, boredom can become a source of stress for your sugar glider. To combat this, make sure their cage has plenty of enrichment in the form of toys and pouches to hide in.
You can also rearrange the placement of items in the cage occasionally to encourage your sugar glider to keep exploring.
Allow your sugar glider time outside of their cage
If possible, you should also let the sugar glider out of its cage every so often. Sugar gliders love to climb inside shirts and pockets, and you can even get a special pouch to carry your friend in.
Just remember to ensure they are safe while they are out by ensuring the sugar glider can’t be hurt by other pets or get lost in small spaces.
Tips for bonding with your sugar glider
Bonding with your sugar glider is essential regardless of how many you have, but it is crucial to give your companion lots of attention when they are by themselves.
Be around your sugar glider
An excellent start to begin bonding is to have your sugar glider’s cage in a space you’re in often, such as the living/dining room or your bedroom.
The more they can see and smell you, the more comfortable they’ll be around you.
Talk with your sugar glider
You should also try talking to your sugar glider.
Considering how vocal sugar gliders are with each other, it stands to reason that they would be very receptive when their owners talk to them. They love the sound of your voice!
Give your sugar glider an item with your scent on it
Have a worn sock lying around or an old T-shirt you don’t wear anymore? Put it in your sugar glider’s cage!
Sugar gliders identify each other through scent, so having something with your scent on it that they can inspect at their own pace anytime they please is a surefire way for them to get used to you.
They may even snuggle up inside of the clothing!
Play with your sugar glider
As the sugar glider becomes more comfortable with you, they may start to climb on you or take a nap in your pocket. Some owners even like to let their sugar gliders glide to and from their hands!
If all else fails, snacks are always a good way to bond with your pet. Sugar gliders are particularly fond of fruit like apples, bananas, and papaya, though some especially enjoy yogurt in small quantities.
Just remember to wash the fruit in case of pesticides and only feed your sugar gliders yogurt with only natural sugar- no diet yogurt.
It is difficult for a sugar glider to live alone, but if the proper care and attention are given to sugar gliders, it is all the more likely that your sugar glider will be able to live a long and healthy life.
In turn, they will reward you will all the love and companionship they give to other members of their species.