SUGAR GLIDERS ARE EXPENSIVE
A standard grey glider, hand-tamed from a good breeder, can go for about $150-$300 – for just one. And it’s highly encouraged to get two. Other color variations can cost between $350-$7,000. That doesn’t even start to include the cage, which can run from $120 – $400+, depending on the cage you want. Either way, it needs to be at least 24”x24”x36”. Wheels are about $45 once you include shipping. Cage sets are anywhere from $20-$60, and toys are about $10-$35 each. Gliders need multiple toys to stimulate their intelligence and replicate their natural environment. Then there’s vet care. Not every vet can treat sugar gliders, and those that can usually charge more because they’re an exotic pet. If you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet.
Gliders need a specialized vet
It took me about six months to find a vet in my town that would see gliders. And they turned out to not be that great of a vet. Two years in, I still haven’t for sure found the vet I’ll stick with. [The one I had lined up before I got my boys, sadly, passed away shortly after they came home.] And not only do you need an exotic vet, you need a secondary vet, should your primary vet be out-of-town/sick/etc. In addition to that, you also need an emergency vet, should anything happen at 3am.
Gliders can live anywhere from 7-15 years
The average is about 5-7, but that’s mostly due to accidents such drownings or escapees meeting the resident cat. Are you willing to dedicate the next 15 years to these animals? A lot can happen in 15 years.
You need to be careful in your own house
Keep the toilet seats down, don’t leave the sink full of water, etc. Most glider owners have dealt with at least one escape, and many of those have come to a dreadful end because of simple household objects such as a bowl of water in the kitchen. It’s not that gliders can’t swim – it’s that they can’t climb out on such a smooth surface and exhaust themselves. Are you willing to go through with the necessary precautions?
You are a moving potty
You will get peed and pooped on. There isn’t really such a thing as a potty trained glider. At best, you can try to stimulate them to go, or wait about twenty minutes after they’ve woken up before bringing them out for play time. But still, there’s no guarantee that they won’t go on you again later. However, it is a bit of a compliment, if you will – peeing is another way gliders mark. They pee on you to claim you as theirs.
They have teeth
I get asked a lot, “Do they bite?” The best answer I can give is that they only bite if provoked, just like any other animal with teeth, but you will get to feel those little chompers rather often. Gliders definitely aren’t aggressive, but if you aren’t “listening” to what they’re saying, you’ll get nipped [which, in all honesty, hurts feelings more than actually hurting]. Then there’s the grooming. Everyone’s seen monkeys groom each other – it’s a way of “accepting” another into their colony, and gliders are the same way. They will grab your hand and lick you, but they will also use their teeth to scrape at your skin. Now, if you had fur, it wouldn’t be so bad, but without, it does hurt sometimes.
Gliders don’t mix with other pets
If you have other pets, you have to be super careful. We have two cats, and they aren’t allowed in the glider room. Some mill breeders will try to claim that all gliders can get along with any household pet – and it has been done; even Priscilla Price, one of the largest breeders, has two cats that have grown up with the gliders – but most of us feel that it is an unnecessary risk.
Gliders can be smelly and messy
They are messy. And they can smell. There’s a lot of cleaning, and you have to come up with a routine. Every other day I wipe out the drop trays, once every two weeks I swap out cage sets, and the next week I swap out toys. Once a month I clean out the entire cage, but don’t replace anything in it. If you don’t leave something that smells like them, they will go to town marking everything, and you’ll end up with a smellier cage than you started with in the first place. Intact males are the worst as far as scent goes, but neutering really cuts down on that. However, some gliders are just naturally stronger scented. Are you willing to commit to a smelly glider anyways?
They’re a large time commitment
Bonding time while they’re asleep, play time while they’re awake, plus the cleaning time, making food, serving food, clipping nails, and more. They’re aren’t the low maintenance pet that mill breeders like to make them out to be.
Gliders aren’t pets for children
Not only are they very fragile and easily injured by an enthusiastic child that doesn’t know any better, but because of the specific diet, gliders need a responsible adult as their primary caretaker. Many older children, however, can share the responsibilities with a parent, but, again, the adult needs to be the primary caretaker.
Gliders aren’t hypoallergenic
You, or your partner or child or roommate, might be allergic. Gliders don’t have much, if any, dander, so that’s not usually the problem, but they do have fur and can set off some allergies. People with sensitive skin might break out in a rash when handling gliders.
They are illegal in some places
They may be illegal where you live. Some states don’t allow them, some cities within certain states have deemed them illegal, many apartments do not allow exotic pets, most dorm rooms don’t allow pets other than fish. It isn’t worth the risk of being caught and possibly having the animals confiscated and even destroyed.
Gliders are nocturnal
They are nocturnal, which means you need to stay up later. It also means that, if you house them in your bedroom, you will hear all of their nighttime antics, including communications, running in wheels, leaping around, and more. And just because you’re fine with it doesn’t mean your roommate/significant other will be, too.
It’s easy enough to say that you’ll deal with all these things, but be honest with yourself – will you? Will you take your glider to the vet as soon as you notice anything wrong? Will you bond and play with them? Will you be able to find someone to take care of them while you’re gone? What happens when life throws big changes your way? Having a sugar glider is like have a two-year-old. For fifteen years. There are already too many sugar gliders in rescues all over the country, we don’t need to be adding to that.
Now, if you’re still reading, perhaps you are a suggie slave in the making. Maybe you’re asking why, as a breeder, we told you all the cons first. Doesn’t seem like such a good way to make a sale, does it? But that’s the thing. Breeders that only see the bottom line, that only look for the profits, will tell you what you want to hear. The thing is, though, most of those gliders aren’t well taken care of. They might be fed, they might have toys, but they aren’t loved. They are a product. And that’s not the way we do things here.
Our gliders are our babies. We love them very much, and they are very important to us. We get to watch each joey go from a jellybean blob to a helpless little just OOP joey to a grown glider. We get to love on them, dote on them, and cry a little bit when they go to their forever home. We get to have pictures sent to us as they grow up. The most important thing to us is finding our joeys a good, loving forever home. That is why we try to discourage any potential owners that might not be ready for a glider, as well as those looking for a “cheap” pet, or an “easy” pet, as gliders are neither of those.
Gliders are very intelligent. There have been hilarious stories of them figuring out laser pointers and not chasing them as cats do. It is so much fun to watch them figure out how to open an easter egg or a treasure chest to get the toys locked inside.
They provide endless hours of companionship and entertainment.
They can form a very strong bond, and once they do, it’s the most wonderful feeling knowing that you are their safe haven.
It’s great fun to carry them on you – they’re your little secret, and they can go most anywhere with you without anyone else knowing.
You’re probably going to catch a bad case of something we call “Glideritis”. It’s incurable, and once you catch it, there’s no hope for you. There are many symptoms, including – but not limited to: learning to sew just to make your own cage sets, buying expensive exotic fruits and vegetables to see if the gliders might like it, and having a bonding pouch to match every outfit.
Once you catch Glideritis, you’re doomed! There’s no cure… not that we would want there to be one!