Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: What Are The Differences?

flying squirrel vs sugar glider
© i3iwtz/Shutterstock.com

Written by August Croft

Updated: September 1, 2023

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You may not have realized it, but there are many differences between a flying squirrel vs sugar glider. Both of these animals are unique and precious exotic pets. However, they belong to very different species as well as habitats in the wild. The primary difference between them is the fact that sugar gliders are marsupial mammals and flying squirrels are not marsupials at all.

In this article, we will address some of the differences between these two animals. Plus. we’ll go over their physical appearances so that you can learn how to tell them apart. We will also discuss their preferred habitats and a few other key differences. Let’s get started and talk about these two animals now! 

Comparing Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider

flying squirrel vs sugar glider
Flying squirrels are mammals, not marsupials, and sugar gliders are marsupial mammals.
Flying SquirrelSugar Glider
GenusSciuridaePetaurus
AppearanceOften much larger than sugar gliders and found in a wide variety of colors; has membrane for flyingSmaller than flying squirrels and striped; membrane for flying and pouch on female sugar gliders for their young
LocationEurope, Asia, North America, Mexico, and Central AmericaAustralia and New Guinea forested areas
Size5-14 inches; 2-5 ounces4-7 inches; 3-6 ounces
DietInsects, flowers, bird eggs, nuts, fungus, and fruitTree sap, small mammals, reptiles, insects

Key Differences Between Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider

Flying Squirrel vs sugar glider

The average flying

squirrel

is 5-14 inches long and 2-5 ounces in weight, while sugar gliders are 4-7 inches in length and 3-6 ounces on average.

©Ken Thomas – Public Domain

There are many key differences between a flying squirrel vs sugar glider. The main difference between these two animals is their classifications, as sugar gliders are marsupial mammals and flying squirrels are not marsupials. The size differences between a flying squirrel and a sugar glider are also more extreme. Their preferred locations and habitats differ from one another as well.

Let’s take a look at some of these differences in more detail now. 

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: Size

A primary difference when identifying a flying squirrel from a sugar glider is their size. The average flying squirrel is 5-14 inches long and 2-5 ounces in weight, while sugar gliders are 4-7 inches in length and 3-6 ounces on average. It is interesting to note that sugar gliders often weigh more than flying squirrels, despite their smaller frames. 

flying squirrel vs sugar glider

Sugar gliders can only fly around 100 feet before touching the ground, while flying squirrels can reach closer to 300 feet before touching the ground.

©i3iwtz/Shutterstock.com

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: Social Behavior

While both flying squirrels vs sugar gliders are active at night, they differ in their social structure and behavior. For example, flying squirrels live in groups of eight or fewer squirrels with little issues. But sugar gliders live in colonies of a dozen or more with two male leaders that assist with protecting the other gliders and their young.

While both of these animals are known for their gliding or flying behavior, they differ in the way that they accomplish this. Sugar gliders can only fly around 100 feet before touching the ground. But flying squirrels can reach closer to 300 feet before touching the ground. However, both of these animals average flight distances of 50-65 feet in their day-to-day lives.

Flying Squirrel vs sugar glider

Flying squirrels come in a variety of shades, from dark brown to red, while sugar gliders are typically found in brown or gray colors.

©Laura Fiorillo/Shutterstock.com

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: Appearance and Coat Colors

Another difference between flying squirrels vs sugar gliders is their appearance and coat colors. Flying squirrels come in a variety of shades, from dark brown to red. Sugar gliders are typically found in brown or gray colors. In addition, sugar gliders have a striped pattern on their backs, while flying squirrels are typically one solid color.

While both of these animals have membranes attached to their side bodies for flying, sugar gliders have more defined digits when compared to flying squirrels. They have an extra digit that resembles our thumb, while flying squirrels do not have as defined a digit.

While you may not notice this unless you are comparing a female flying squirrel with a female sugar glider, there is another key difference in their physical appearance. Sugar gliders are marsupials, which means that they keep their young in a pouch. Flying squirrels do not have a pouch, as they are not marsupials. But you wouldn’t notice this unless you were comparing the two side by side!

flying squirrel vs sugar glider

While both of these animals have membranes attached to their side bodies for flying, sugar gliders have more defined digits when compared to flying squirrels.

©AsepBachowie/Shutterstock.com

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: Diet and Hunting Style

A flying squirrel vs sugar glider has a different diet and hunting style. While both of these animals are omnivorous, a sugar glider eats tree sap, small mammals, reptiles, and insects, while a flying squirrel eats insects, flowers, bird eggs, nuts, fungus, and fruit. You see that some of their diets overlap, but there are some key differences here.

Sugar gliders enjoy eating their meals along the undersides of their tree canopies while flying squirrels feed and whatever they can. Flying squirrels are also notorious hoarders, which is not something that sugar gliders are well known for.

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: Geographic Location 

flying squirrel vs sugar glider

Flying squirrels are found throughout the world, particularly in Europe, Asia, North America, Mexico, and Central America, while sugar gliders are found in Australia and New Guinea forested areas only.

©apiguide/Shutterstock.com

A final difference between a flying squirrel vs sugar glider is their geographic locations. Flying squirrels are found throughout the world, particularly in Europe, Asia, North America, Mexico, and Central America, while sugar gliders are found in Australia and New Guinea forested areas only.

This makes their preferred habitats very different as well. Both of these animals feel safe and secure in trees. But flying squirrels are adapted to living in much colder locations when compared to sugar gliders. However, sugar gliders are capable of handling both extremely humid and dry locations.


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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