Pet of the week: The sugar glider

I've never even heard of a sugar glider

As pets go, this one really is out of the most exotic drawer. It is a squirrel-like, nocturnal marsupial found in Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, where it spends time climbing up trees, spreading itself out like a big furry handkerchief and gliding down to the next tree. It is the BASE jumper of the sub-tropical canopy.

Wow – sounds like a bit of a handful in the home

Sugar gliders are definitely for people who know what they are doing, but like any animal, if you are prepared to commit time and effort (these critters can live up to 12 years) they are very rewarding and build strong bonds with humans. Steve Allen, who is one of the UK's leading authorities on gliders, says: "They're very intelligent, and behave a bit like kittens." That said, "They are definitely not for children – they have quite sharp little claws."

Not much bush tucker round here

Sugar gliders like to eat exotic fruits, and their diet is crucial – they can be quite fussy eaters. Steve recommends a mix of about 40 per cent protein (mealworms, pinkies, fresh chicken), and 60 per cent fruit and veg, with occasional handfuls of dietary mix. But they are used to foraging for their food, which makes them inquisitive little creatures, and they like to climb up on things (furniture, shoulders, etc) and have a good look round. They never like to dawdle on the ground.

So where do they sleep?

As they are nocturnal, they sleep during the day in their cage. The cage is very important for them, and must be at least four foot square and as tall as possible. You'll need to provide plenty of branches for your gliders to hang from and toys for them to play with. Steve uses a converted aviary in a spare room (they aren't noisy or smelly creatures). As far as sleeping quarters are concerned, there's nothing your average glider likes more than a nice cosy pouch to snuggle up in all day. What better place to see out this cold weather.

How wild are they?

Their natural instincts are still very much intact, even in captivity, so don't expect them to be docile or want constant cuddling. Although they sleep most of the day, they thrive on interaction and will seek out human company for a few hours in the evening, and will become very attached to their owners. This social behaviour is another link with their ancestral past and colonial instincts. For this reason they must be kept in pairs (of the same sex if you are not breeding), as playing and feeding rituals are vital to their welfare.

Where can I find out more?

Steve's excellent website uksugargliders.co.uk gives all the advice you will need, plus sound clips of sugar gliders barking and chirping. Once you hear those, you'll be hooked.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before