Sugar Glider Lifespan In Captivity | Age and Lifespans

  • Author: Gregg Draper
  • Time to read: 9 min.
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Sugar gliders are small marsupials and are native to areas like Australia, however, in the exotic pet trade, they are extremely popular pets – likely because of their unique and sweet appearance. But their lifespan may be different when kept in captivity.

The lifespan of a sugar glider in the wild is normally around 10 to 12 years. However, when they are kept as pets, this lifespan can vary greatly and much of this will depend on the care that they receive.

In this post, we are going to be looking at the lifespan of the adorable little sugar glider as well as some important information on how to care for your pet properly to ensure that they will live a long and healthy life.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Sugar Glider?

The sugar glider is potentially one of the cutest exotic animals that can be kept as a pet – although, it is important to remember that in some areas, it is not legal to domesticate these animals.

This is largely down to the fact that they are a protected species, although they have not yet made their way to being considered as endangered.

In the wild, these incredible creatures will live for between ten and twelve years. However, this will assume that they are not preyed on by other animals. There are many common predators of the sugar glider including snakes, kookaburras, foxes and lizards to name a few.

That being said, the sugar glider is able to glide, as its name may suggest so is far more easily able to avoid becoming dinner for a tree snake than other animals.

In contrast, when sugar gliders are kept in captivity, their lifespan may be significantly shorter, but this vastly depends on the care that they receive. If you look after your sugar glider, there is no reason why he should not live a relatively long and healthy life.

There are several reports of sugar gliders exceeding their wild lifespan and living to around 15 years old when they receive exceptional care. It is vital to keep in mind that taking on a pet like this will require dedicated care and attention.

sugar glider

Unfortunately, there are far too many horror stories of sugar gliders meeting a premature end because of incorrect care.

Your young sugar glider will likely be quite active and will develop rather quickly. It is known that these animals can sometimes reach sexual maturity at 4 months of age, although it is usually slightly later in most cases.

Other domestic pets like cats and dogs are not usually considered to be geriatric until around the age of eight, although this will depend on the breed.

In contrast, your sugar glider will be seen to have reached old age at as young as five years old, and anywhere up to age seven.

Their care and behaviour may change as they get older but they remain loving and intelligent pets.

Get To Know The Sugar Glider

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to ensure your sugar glider spends many happy years in your home, it is important to understand a little bit about these complex creatures.

One of the most common mistakes with new exotic pet owners is that they presume that sugar gliders are as easy to care for as other small furry animals like hamsters and rats.

But their needs are significantly different and you will need to spend more time dedicated to caring for your pet than other small animals – that is certainly not to say that rodents do not require dedicated care.

The sugar glider is a marsupial; much like the koala and wallaby, which are also native to the nation of Australia. This country is famed for its unique wildlife and the sugar glider is one of many creatures that have captivated pet lovers from around the globe.

Sugar gliders are also very intelligent animals and when kept as pets may resemble a dog in many ways. Not, of course, by appearance but in behaviour, this is certainly true.

Much like a canine, your sugar glider will learn his name and may come to you when you call him. Furthermore, these amazing little creatures can also be taught to do tricks – perfectly demonstrating how intelligent they are.

Owing to the intelligent nature of the sugar glider, they do require a lot of attention. Some pet owners have compared the level of play and attention that they require to that of a cat.

You must also keep in mind that these are very loving creatures who will often form a strong bond with their owner.

If you want a pet that will curl up in your pocket and give you lots of nuzzles then a sugar glider would suit you well.

How To Properly Care For Your Sugar Glider

If you want your sugar glider to live a long and happy life, then it is essential that you offer him the right level of care.

This is certainly not a pet to adopt if you cannot be certain that you have the right amount of time to dedicate to it and improper care will drastically lessen the lifespan of the animal.

There are several things that your sugar glider needs to remain healthy and happy, so let’s break these down and take a look at each aspect of care in a little more detail.

Diet

Potentially one of the most important things that will keep your sugar glider healthy is their diet. It is essential that, if you want to give your pet a long life, they are able to access a nutritious and healthy diet.

Sugar gliders need a diet that contains around 75% fruit and vegetables and just 25% protein – this will be the best way to resemble the diet that they would have in the wild.

For the vegetable portion of their diet, there are a long list of fruits and veggies that you sugar glider will love. But there are some foods of this type that should be avoided. This is because they have high levels of oxalates that could potentially cause harm to your pet. These include:

  • Blackberries
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Figs
  • Beets

It is also advisable to avoid giving corn to your sugar glider regularly, although it is OK to offer this from time to time.

In terms of protein, your sugar glider can get this from a variety of sources. Many pet owners will offer small pieces of cooked white meat like chicken or turkey as well as yogurt, peanut butter and cheese.

Of course, on occasion you might like to treat your sugar glider and this can be done by giving live insects but these must have come from the pet store or a supplier – you must never give you sugar glider insects that you have found in the garden.

The reason for this is that domesticated animals may not have enough resilience to bacteria and diseases which could make them very ill and potentially decrease their lifespan.

It can be tempting to offer your sugar glider sugary foods like sugar cubes and candy – after all, he gets his name from having such a sweet tooth. But these types of foods could be potentially life-threatening, so do resist the urge to offer them.

It is known that the sugar glider can be fussy about what he eats and what one sugar glider may love, another may hate. So it is important to get to know what you pet enjoys and create a balanced diet according to this.

If he is particularly fussy, it can be a good idea to add a suitable supplement to ensure that he is getting everything he needs and remains healthy.

In addition to a healthy diet, your sugar glider must have continuous access to fresh, clean water. However, you should keep in mind that because much of their food contains high levels of water, they may not drink as much as you would expect.

Companionship

Sugar gliders are very intelligent and this means that they will get bored if they do not have things to stimulate them.

As we mentioned, they can develop a very strong bond with their owners and it is vital that you dedicate at least one to two hours each day to playing with your pet. It is not uncommon to hear of sugar gliders dying because of loneliness.

The reason for this is that the lack of social interaction will cause them to become depressed – much in the same way that humans would experience loneliness. As a result, the sugar glider will meet an early demise.

In addition to a lot of human interaction, many sugar glider owners take on a pair of gliders and this is one of the best ways to keep them happy. It is not unheard of that a sugar glider will fall into a depression and die when his partner sugar glider passes away so this is something to consider.

Health

It is no secret that sugar gliders are complex creatures and require very specific health care. It is important to understand the unique health needs of these animals if you are going to bring one home as a pet. Having this knowledge will help you to ensure that their lifespan is not compromised due to health complications that may have been avoided.

  • Many sugar gliders suffer from a calcium deficiency, this can result in your pet becoming lethargic and in serious cases, becoming paralysed. One of the best ways to ensure that they are receiving an adequate amount of calcium is to offer supplements alongside their diet.
  • Digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhoea are common in these animals. The latter can be potentially fatal because the sugar glider may become dehydrated but can often be avoided by limiting the animal’s stress and not allowing them to eat large amounts of citrus fruits.
  • Sugar gliders may be susceptible to parasites and this is something that should be treated by a vet.
  • As we mentioned, sugar gliders can be prone to stress and this can be fatal in some serious cases. The main signs of this are sleeping more than usual, appetite changes and circling the cage.

Your Sugar Glider’s Cage

The sugar glider is a relatively small animal but that does not mean that they do not require a large cage. In fact, the opposite is true and these creatures require a lot of room to climb, jump and play.

Therefore, it is essential that you make sure that their cage is at least 20 inches by 20 inches by 30 inches, however, this is the smallest recommended size and going bigger will not do any harm.

The cage should be taller than it is wide and the food should be located near the top of the cage. We like the Prevue Critter Cage sold on Amazon. ( Link ) It’s a large cage that is affordable and well-built.

The sugar glider likes to sleep in the day so it is important that you find a place in the home where they will not be disturbed. You might also consider not placing the cage in direct sunlight as this could mean that the animal becomes too warm.

Anywhere between 15º and 30º is suitable. That being said, do make sure that the sugar glider is in a location where he can differentiate between night and day.

Your pet will need a safe and comfy place to nest during the daytime so make sure to provide her with something suitable. This might be a small rodent house like those you see in a hamster cage of a pouch made from cloth.

Conclusion

Sugar gliders are one of the most sought after furry exotic pets in the world and despite it being illegal to keep them in some parts of the world, other areas have many (legal) sugar glider owners.

When they are in the wild, these beautiful little animals may live for between ten and twelve years but when kept in captivity, this lifespan may vary dramatically.

There have been cases of sugar glider living up to fifteen years in captivity when they have been well cared for but in contrast, many of these animals will pass away far sooner owing to improper care.

If you are going to be taking on a sugar glider, it is imperative that you are able to offer detailed and dedicated care to ensure a long, healthy and happy life for your pet.

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