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December 2015′s Animal Of The Month – Sugar Gliders

By December 30, 2015 No Comments

The sugar glider is gliding out of the spotlight as our Animal of the Month for December. If you’ve been following us on Twitter @ExoticPetVets, you will have seen all of the fun and fascinating facts we tweeted about these sociable little creatures. Here is a summary in case you missed any of our tweets. Did you know?:

  • Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) are small mammals native to Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea & related islands.
  • The sugar gliders’ scientific name means “short-headed rope dancer” in Latin.
  • Sugar gliders are arboreal, meaning they live in trees.
  • In the wild, sugar gliders are often found in rainforests and coastal areas.
  • Sugar gliders are often mistaken for rodents, but they’re actually marsupials.
  • Like koalas and kangaroos, the sugar glider also carries her babies in a front pouch for about 8 weeks after they’re born.
  • Baby sugar gliders are called joeys and are about the size of a pea or a grain of rice when they’re born.
  • Female sugar gliders will give birth to two babies at a time.
  • When they’re fully grown, sugar gliders will be about 5 – 7 inches in length, with another 5 – 7 inches of tail length.
  • Sugar gliders are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night and sleep during the day.
  • Large eyes help sugar gliders see at night.
  • The first part of the sugar glider’s name refers to the animal’s love of sweet foods.
  • Sugar gliders are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plant and animal matter.
  • In the wild, sugar gliders have a varied diet that includes pollen, nectar, seeds, insects, small lizards and birds.
  • In captivity sugar gliders should be fed pelleted kibble + a nectar/sap-based mix + limited insects, fruits and veggies.
  • Never give chocolate (or any other candy) or dairy products to sugar gliders.
  • If not fed a proper diet, sugar gliders can suffer from calcium deficieny.
  • A vet who treats sugar gliders can give proper and thorough nutritional guidance for sugar gliders in captivity.
  • The second part of the sugar glider’s name refers to the animal’s ability to glide between trees with a flap of the skin.
  • Sugar gliders have a skin membrane that connects their front and hind legs.
  • Stretching this flap of skin creates a kind of built-in “parachute” for sugar gliders. They can glide for up to 50 metres.
  • Sugar gliders, flying squirrels and colugos (aka “flying lemurs”) are the only living mammals with the ability to glide.
  • Usually living in groups of 6-10 in the wild, sugar gliders are very social animals.
  • Sugar gliders can be found sleeping snuggled together in the hollows of trees.
  • Because of their social nature, sugar gliders should not be kept alone in captivity.
  • If properly socialized, sugar gliders in captivity can develop very strong bonds with humans.
  • Once bonded, sugar gliders in captivity will want to be near other members of the family.
  • Sugar gliders in captivity are known for their love of riding around in people’s pockets.
  • Sugar gliders also form lifelong bonds with other household pets like cats, dogs and some birds.
  • Since sugar gliders aren’t rodents, they don’t smell like rodents and cats and dogs are likely not to see them as prey.
  • Although native to parts of Australia, sugar gliders are not native to the island of Tasmania.
  • It’s believed sugar gliders were introduced to Tasmania by people in the 1800’s.
  • Australian researchers say sugar glider predation could lead to the extinction of Tasmania’s swift parrot.

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