Sugar gliders are tiny omnivorous animals that live in trees. Named after their love for sweet things and the skill of gliding like a flying squirrel, they are one of the most adorable pets in the world. While they can live in different habitats, their favored environments include acacia wood and eucalyptus. You can find them in Indonesia, Tasmania, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.
If you’ve ever wanted to acquire a sugar glider or learn more about them, here are ten fascinating and entertaining facts about them.
1. Sugar gliders can harm their kids when stressed
It is not advised to move sugar gliders or alter their surroundings when they have just given birth because they may kill and eat their young if they become overly stressed. The infants open their eyes about a day after fully emerging from the pouch. Weaning is completed a month later, after which the mother becomes a bit aggressive in a bid to chase them away so that she can nurture another set of offspring. Because sugar gliders do not attain maturity until about six months, the early removal of the babies is essential to prevent inbreeding and fighting.
Stress can also lead to self-mutilation in sugar gliders. If you have one as a pet, you may notice bald spots on the skin, fur strands in the cage, and, subsequently, biting of body parts such as the hands, feet, tail, and genitals. These injuries may leave blood that can be seen on the cage bars, nests, or skin.
2. Sugar gliders have very sensitive ears
Sugar gliders have slender, hairless ears that are quite large relative to other parts of their heads. The ability of each ear to move independently enables the animal to pinpoint the origin of even the smallest sounds quickly. They possess an intellect comparable to many cats and dogs, and after establishing a strong bond, they can identify the voice of their owners.
The ears, however, require appropriate care and attention; otherwise, they can get dry and crack.
3. Sugar gliders can be very messy
This may be a big problem for individuals that keep sugar gliders as pets. These animals can be very messy and dirty. They are known to urinate and defecate frequently, especially upon waking up and after eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s on you or your floor; they’ll relieve themselves whenever the need arises. They also have scent glands that will be rubbed on you when you get in contact with them.
4. Sugar gliders are nocturnal
Sugar gliders are only active at night and use the day for resting and sleeping. This characteristic helps to keep them away from their predators, which are mostly diurnal (i.e., predominantly active during the day). Sugar gliders construct their nests in trees in the wild. Once they’ve found a secure location to sleep, they’ll hide during the day when most of their predators are out hunting. This trait is also true of those in captivity.
5. Sugar gliders can get bored or lonely when isolated
Sugar gliders are social creatures that often live in colonies that may consist of up to 10 animals. So that they don’t get lonely, they must be housed in pairs or larger groups. Some sugar gliders are more sociable than others and may yearn for a partner more intensely. There have been situations where some sugar gliders became so miserable and sank into depression, consequently refusing to eat until they starved to death. In severe cases, which only occur occasionally, the sugar glider can resort to self-mutilation.
6. Sugar gliders bark
Sugar gliders can produce four types of sounds under normal circumstances: barking, hissing, crabbing, and hissing or purring. These sounds can represent many things, just like a human cry, shout, or squeak is used to signify various situations.
When a predator approaches the region where the colony is currently camped, a sugar glider will bark to alert the others of the impending danger. This warning sound may cause all gliders in the vicinity to freeze, making it difficult for the predator to notice and eat them.
Sugar gliders also bark when they want to look for a mating partner.
7. Sugar gliders are not rodents
Even though they may look like rodents, sugar gliders are marsupials belonging to the same family as kangaroos and koala bears. This gives them several advantages over typical household pets like squirrels, ferrets, and hamsters. Just like dogs and cats, they can live for up to 15 years with proper care. They also share a similar level of intellect with dogs, and with the appropriate training, they can pick up skills like learning their name and coming up when called.
8. Sugar gliders are excellent in the air
The sugar glider’s patagium is what sets it apart from other animals. This delicate membrane aids in gliding from one tree to another, just like a parachute. It ensures that the sugar glider has an airborne range almost as wide as a football field.
They have a wide field of vision, which makes them fantastic pilots. They can pinpoint distances and glide ratios by ducking their heads before takeoff. Once in the air, they use their tail as a propeller while also bending their hands, arms, and patagium to direct themselves toward their target.
9. Sugar glider scents serve several functions
Scents are used by sugar gliders for much more than just identifying territory. They communicate via the saliva in their mouths. Each sugar glider’s distinctive and unique scent aids members of a colony in identifying the hierarchy. Thanks to the scents, everyone in the sugar glider power structure is aware of their place in the line of command.
They also repel predators with their scents. They will release an oily substance from their glands when they perceive danger. For animals looking to make a meal of them, the discharge smells somewhat unpleasant, like rotting fruit.
10. Male sugar gliders have a bald spot
When a male sugar glider reaches sexual maturity, a conspicuous bald patch forms on the top of its head – a diamond-shaped spot that contains one of its scent glands. This gland is used to mark female mates, offspring, and territories. The mark usually does not come with a foul smell, especially if the glider is fed the right type of food. Certain gliders, however, have very powerful gland systems and may produce perceivable odors for brief periods.
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