Once you’ve decided to share your life with a sugar glider, it’s time to plan his habitat. These small marsupials can live up to 12- to 15-years, so you want make sure you provide them with a cage that keeps them happy and healthy over the years.
Next to the sugar glider’s cute and unique appearance, his natural activities endear him to our hearts. Because these active darlings like to climb and jump, they need plenty of room in their cage, and vertical space is very important.
Sugar Glider Cage Minimums
Many sugar glider experts recommend a cage measuring at least 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches. However, Tamra Rothenburger, executive director/founder of Phoenix-based AZ Sugar Glider Rescue, recommended choosing a flight cage measuring about 31 inches long by 20 1/2 inches wide by 53 inches high, with half-inch bar spacing to prevent the pet sugar glider from squeezing out.
Larger housing is always better for these unique pocket pets, and the safest cage has mesh or metal bars. Aquariums are never a good option for pet sugar gliders.
“[Aquarium housing] is cruel,” Rothenburger said. “These are tree-dwelling animals that are programmed to climb and jump, and an aquarium does not allow that.”
A powder-coated cage is a safe option for your new pet, she said, adding that “wood, galvanized steel and chicken wire are not acceptable as they are both toxic and dangerous.”
New owners need to be aware that sugar gliders are smart and curious critters. As such, if the bottom grate or tray of the cage slides, Rothenburger recommended blocking it or using a zip tie to prevent the sugar glider from sliding it out.
“Small feeding doors are also a risk, so they need to be zip-tied as well,” she added.
In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies and thrive in these groups, so a singleton can become lonely, bored and depressed.
“A solo may do well when spending constant time with its human, but it still doesn’t have the stimulation of a companion at night in the cage or when snuggling in its pouch,” Rothenburger explained.
Therefore, if you decide to start out with two or more pet sugar gliders, Rothenburger said up to four can live together comfortably in a single flight cage. If you have more than four, however, you’ll want a larger cage to make room for exercise and stimulation.
As a note, if adding a new sugar glider or a baby to a cage that has housed a single adult sugar glider, caution and slow introductions will be in order. Your breeder or rescue contact can guide you through the process.
To allow your nocturnal pet to sleep well, consider keeping the sugar glider’s cage away from direct sunlight and noisy or human traffic during the day. A fleece cage or sleep pouch or a hammock also can help your pet sugar glider get its rest.
A simple and inexpensive solution for cage lining is some fleece cut to fit in the pullout tray, Rothenburger said, adding that it’s washable and reusable. She advised against using wood, pellet or paper bedding to avoid problems with toxicity and/or throwing issues.
Because sugar gliders are very intelligent, entertainment and stimulation is critical for their wellbeing. To meet this need, there are a variety of enrichment options to include in your pet sugar glider’s cage. These include ladders, swings, branches, hideouts, tunnels and hammocks. Do keep safety and nontoxic materials in mind as you make your selections.
“Hard plastic children’s toys like doll houses are great,” Rothenburger added. “Also, a safe wheel made for gliders.”
Cage Away From Cage
In addition to your sugar glider’s cage, experts recommend offering your pocket pet out-of-cage time with you for at least an hour every day. For this, a pop-up tent with screen or mosquito-net walls works well, according to Rothenburger. She suggested choosing a tent measuring about 83 inches long by at least 35 inches high.
For your new pet’s quick trip home or visit to the veterinarian, a secure bonding pouch is sufficient. For travel, a move or an evacuation, a pet carrier is best for your sugar glider.
“You want something durable, and if you have nervous chewer, it may be better to use a small, plastic pet carrier with a metal top,” Rothenburger said. “Often in emergency [or] evacuation [situations], people utilize a canvas dog crate, which can also house a sugar glider when on vacation (unless it’s a nervous chewer).”
If you choose to purchase a small carrier for your sugar glider, avoid measurements smaller than about 11 inches on any one side.