Sugar gliders are small marsupial mammals native to Australia, Indonesia and New Guinea. Their scientific name is Petaurus breviceps. They are about the same size as a gerbil and are gaining popularity as pets, probably because they are easy to care for and very cute and friendly. Also if you feed them well they are practically odorless and can live for many years so the sugar petaurus as a pet is ideal for many people.
What the Petauros are like
They have two marking glands that are hairless in sexually mature males: one of them located on the back of the head and the other one under the neck, behind the chin. It is very easy to differentiate males from females, as they have a pouch (marsupium) that appears as a small vertical slit in the midline of the abdomen, with four breasts inside it.
Petaurs are arboreal and nocturnal, so they carry out most of their activities at night. However, the sugar petaur as a pet enjoys sharing moments with their masters during the day, such as resting in their pockets.
In the wild they are playful little animals, but wary of strangers, so it is very difficult to tame an adult. However, the little ones quickly get used to people and it only takes a lot of touching during the first days at home for them to become splendid pets.
All marsupial animals have the common characteristic that they are born after a short gestation, very immature, and migrate to a pouch where the mother shelters them for a longer period of time until they are ready to go out into the outside world. The most famous marsupials are kangaroos. In the case of the pet sugar petaur, gestation lasts only 16 days; from the uterus the tiny baby, weighing only 0.19 g and hairless, travels to the pouch on its mother’s abdomen. There it attaches to a breast for nourishment and remains for two more months growing and maturing. Throughout this period, the baby is physically attached to its mother and separating them causes harm to both mother and hatchlings, resulting in their death. It is recommended not to handle the hatchlings until they come out of the pouch and not to separate them from the parents until they are 3 months old, when they become independent. Males actively participate in the care and feeding of the young, so it is not advisable to separate them from the mother.
The name sugar glider is due to its diet, which consists of the nectar and sap of eucalyptus trees, and to the folds of skin that extend from the heels to the wrists and allow it to glide from one tree to another. The pet sugar petaur can feed on plants as well as meat, since it is an omnivorous animal; in nature its diet consists of nectar, insects, fruits and the occasional bird or small rodent.
Petaurs live in family groups and are very social. This characteristic makes the sugar petaur as a pet form very strong bonds with their masters in captivity. However, they need the company of their conspecifics to survive; if they are alone, some of them get so stressed that they get sick and die. If you have a single pet, you will have to spend a lot of time interacting with your pet if you want it to live happily.
In captivity, these cute little animals can live for 8 to 14 years. They are quite clean and do not have high habitat requirements, but they hardly learn to relieve themselves in one place. They need a lot of social interaction, even if it means taking them with you when you go around the house. The pet sugar petaur will treat you like a member of their family if you know how to respect them and spend time with them. Their nails are very sharp and may scratch when they try to climb or land on a family member, so it is best to keep them short. While they are not aggressive, they may bite if they feel threatened or cornered.
For a pair of petaurs, a cage of 60 x 60 cm by 90 cm high provides enough space, but as for other small mammal species, the larger the better. The sugar petaur as a pet is very restless and therefore needs a lot of space to move around. Keep in mind that for them vertical space is almost more important than horizontal surface. It is better if the cage has horizontal bars so that they can climb. The inside should have a nesting house, interesting toys, an exercise wheel and ropes, branches, ladders or climbing platforms. The cage latch should be very secure, as these little rascals can learn to open it and escape. The ideal location is in a busy place, with a lot of movement, since they entertain themselves by observing the activity in the house. As they come from warm places, it is important to isolate them from cold currents and keep the environment between 22 and 32ºC.