Sugar gliders are exotic animals that are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to a choice of pet.
There is a lot to love about these small, wild marsupials when it comes to keeping them as pets, as they can be very loving and sweet creatures that form strong bonds with humans.
However, there is a great deal of debate surrounding the keeping of sugar gliders as pets due to the high level of specialized care that is needed to keep them safe and healthy.
With this in mind, we will be looking at whether it can be considered cruel to keep sugar gliders as pets. Let’s get started.
What Is A Sugar Glider?
Before we get into the keeping of sugar gliders as pets, let’s take a quick look at the adorable creatures in general.
As mentioned, sugar gliders are marsupials- coming from the same family as koala bears and kangaroos- despite often being mistaken for rodents.
The name “sugar glider” was given to these cute critters due to their love of all things sweet, particularly fruit. Their name also comes from their ability to glide, which is thanks to a gliding membrane that stretches from their wrist all the way to their ankle.
In terms of intelligence, sugar gliders are known to have the same level as that of a dog and can even be trained to respond when they are called and even learn tricks!
A sugar glider can have a lifespan of between twelve and fifteen years if cared for correctly, and they are also known for being incredibly clean and social animals.
In the wild, sugar gliders live in small groups that can range from a few gliders to around twelve sugar gliders. This social nature means that you are going to have at least two sugar gliders so that they can keep each other company.
If you leave a sugar glider alone, they will be more likely to succumb to depression due to their naturally socially and inquisitive nature.
Is It Cruel To Keep Sugar Gliders As Pets?
The answer to this question is unfortunately not entirely straightforward. If you are able to offer the specialized care that sugar gliders need, then it is far from a cruel practice to keep them as pets.
However, if you cannot put in the substantial time, care, and attention that these creatures will need then you are not providing them with what they need to live a happy and stable life and so this could be considered cruel.
It can also be considered cruel to have a lone sugar glider due to that aforementioned need for socialization.
Professionally, there are mixed opinions to be had when it comes to keeping sugar gliders as pets due to this high level of care.
This has led to sugar gliders being illegal to keep as pets in various states- such as Hawaii, California, and Alaska- so as to stop unprepared and irresponsible potential owners from obtaining them.
Preparing To Keep A Sugar Glider
If you are certain that you are able to put the time, responsibility, money, and effort into keeping a sugar glider properly, then there are ways that you can prepare in order to make sure they are as happy as possible.
There are also some key points that you can research beforehand so that you have all the possible information that you need.
As mentioned, there are several states that do not allow you to keep sugar gliders legally.
Even if your state does allow the keeping of sugar gliders, your local area might have certain rules. For instance, some areas require certain permits to keep sugar gliders as pets.
Do your research beforehand so that you know exactly what the rules are in your state as well as your local area regarding keeping sugar gliders as pets.
Space And Housing
As mentioned, sugar gliders are very social creatures, but they are also very active and need frequent exercise. This means that large living spaces for them are essential to keep them energized and happy.
The minimum size when it comes to an enclosure for a sugar glider would be around 36 inches wide, 36 inches high, and 24 inches deep.
Don’t forget, this is only the minimum suitable size, with bigger always being better. Sugar gliders need as much space and height as possible so that they can glide and climb, so keep this in mind.
When it comes to a wire cage, make sure that the bars are horizontal and no bigger than half an inch wide to make for optimum climbing.
Inside the cage, you will need to provide your sugar glider with a closed exercise wheel if possible (make sure it’s closed to protect their long tails) as well as lots of toys for stimulation. Other excellent additions to a sugar gliders cage include ropes, branches, and ladders.
Line your sugar glider’s cage with hay, paper towels, or Carefresh bedding but avoid wooden shavings as this can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, respiratory system, and nose of the critters.
Make sure to spot clean the cage daily and thoroughly clean the rest of the housing- along with any accessories and toys- every couple of weeks.
Ensure that the housing is kept away from direct sunlight and any drafts so that they don’t get too hot or too cold. Room temperature is the best choice, sitting somewhere between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sugar gliders have a rather flexible diet in the wild, with their food changing depending on the seasons and climates. This can be hard to recreate in a home environment.
Making the effort to ensure that your sugar gliders are fed appropriately is vital to keeping their nutrition in a good state.
There are sugar glider-specific nectar supplements and pellets that can be bought for your glider, but fresh insects, fruits, and vegetables are also an essential element of their diet.
Keep in mind that any insects fed to your glider should be dusted with calcium supplement and gut loaded in the same way that insects prepared for reptiles are.
Rotate a variety of vegetables, insects, and fruits in your glider’s diet, but ensure that you don’t feed them anything overly sweet or fatty.
Avoid seeds and fruit or veggie pits too, and don’t overdo it with the insects. A balanced diet is essential to a healthy and happy sugar glider, so take note!
The answer to the question of whether it is cruel to keep a sugar glider is not a simple one. You need to be prepared to provide the best possible care for a sugar glider if you are planning on owning one as a pet.
If so, they can become loving and sweet family members that will take pleasure in snuggling up to you, climbing on your shoulders, wrapping around your neck, or chilling out in your sleeves!
However, it is absolutely essential that you are able to provide this necessary care as if not, you are at risk of cruelty even if it is unintentional.
Do your research, prepare everything as thoroughly as possible and be ready to have at least two sugar gliders, and you are sure to create a healthy and happy environment for a sugar glider to thrive in.