Sugar gliders are gorgeous little marsupials that make adorable and playful pets. But how much does it cost to buy a sugar glider possum, set up their habitat, and care for them on an ongoing basis?
Spoiler alert! An infant sugar glider will cost you somewhere between $100-$500 to purchase, but they should always be kept in pairs, so whatever price you find, double it! Setting up a habitat for a pair of sugar gliders will cost between $250-$500 depending on the options you choose. You might then need another $300 per year for food and recurring expenses per sugar glider.
Read on for a more detailed look at what you will need to spend money on when adopting a sugar glider and how much it costs to take care of a pair of these adorable possums.
What Are Sugar Gliders?
Sugar gliders are small marsupials originally from Australia and parts of Indonesia. A type of possum, they are called gliders due to the thin web of skin between their front and back legs, which allows them to glide between the trees.
These little animals are between nine and 15 inches long including their tail. They will weigh between 115 and 140 grams, with the males being larger than the females. They tend to live between three and nine years in the wild, where their predators include kookaburras, goannas, snakes, and feral cats, but can live up to 15 years in captivity.
These cute little creatures have a thick, soft fur coat that is usually blue-gray in color but can also be yellow, tan, or albino. They have a black line along their backs from the nose to midway down their back. Their belly, throat, and chest are usually cream in color.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, but when they are awake, they’re friendly, curious, and playful. While they are fragile and should be handled with care, they can be trained to be handled when they’re adopted at a young age.
Sugar gliders are on our list of the seven best unusual pets.
Where Can You Own A Sugar Glider?
Ownership of sugar gliders is limited in the United States. They are banned in Alaska, California, and Hawaii due to concerns about protecting native animals.
Other states have ownership restrictions. For example, Minnesota allows ownership on the state level, but it’s banned in certain areas such as St. Paul. There are similar laws in New York and Utah, where they are banned in New York City and Salt Lake City.
Other states require that you have a permit, including Georgia, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Expect to pay around $10 per year for a permit depending on the state.
Cost Of Sugar Glider Adoption
If you want to adopt a sugar glider, you will almost certainly need to get one from a breeder. Make sure you research your breeder in advance and ensure they have all the necessary permits with the US Department of Agriculture. If possible, try and visit the breeder, virtually if you can’t in person, to see the parents and confirm the quality of their living conditions.
A breeder will probably sell you a sugar glider for somewhere between $100-$500. Adult sugar gliders are a bit more affordable and will cost $100-$200. They are more affordable because it’s harder to train and bond with the possums once they are adults. Infants are more expensive, costing between $200-$500.
Many sugar glider owners suggest that eight to 12 months is the optimum window for bonding with your sugar glider. Beyond a year, it can be extremely challenging.
Sugar gliders are more complicated to look after than many people realize, so you can sometimes find them in rescues and shelters. Check Sugar Glider Guardians to find regional listings of available animals.
Bear in mind that sugar gliders are social animals, so you need to get them in pairs so they don’t suffer from depression and anxiety. So if you find individual sugar gliders for $250, it will cost you $500 for a pair.
Sugar Glider Habitat Setup
You can expect to pay between $250-$500 to set up an appropriate habitat for your sugar gliders. This starts with their cage, which needs to be spacious and tall. While these animals are tiny, they are vivacious climbers and active, so they need lots of space.
A cage for a pair of sugar gliders needs to be at least 24 inches by 24 inches, plus 36 inches tall. It should have multiple levels where you can install different beds and toys. A great choice is this cage from Exotic Nutrition Store, which is 24 x 24 inches and 64 inches high with multiple levels. The cage is on wheels so you can move it around throughout the day to the best location. It costs just under $250.
For a more affordable option, check out this 70-inch-tall habitat from Mcage Store. It has tight half-inch bar spacing, which is essential to not let these little guys find a way out.
While most cages will come with things to climb on, they will need a few extras. First, each sugar glider will need a cozy sleeping pouch to snuggle up in. These two sleeping pouches cost just $25 and are a great choice. If you want something more elaborate and fun, check out this three layer hamster hammock or this Litewoo sugar glider pouch.
They will also need climbing ropes, ladders, a closed exercise wheel, feeding dishes, and food. All of these things can be found pretty affordably and should cost less than $50. You will probably also want a carrier for transporting the small animal, such as this Exotic Nutrition Economy Carrier for $20.
You won’t need any special heating to care for your sugar gliders, since they appreciate the same kinds of temperatures you do. They should thrive in temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sugar Glider Annual Expenses
The biggest annual expense with sugar gliders is food, which will probably cost around $300 per year per sugar glider.
In the wild, sugar gliders eat tree sap, fruits, and small insects. In captivity, the core of their diet should be commercial pellets. One of the most popular foods is made by Happy Glider, which is a blend of toasted grains, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. They only need around one teaspoon of pellets per day.
This should be supplemented by fresh fruits and vegetables from the kitchen. They can eat a wide variety of fruits including apples, bananas, most berries, citrus fruits, papaya, mango, pineapple, and more. They can also eat veggies such as beets, bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, greens, and pumpkin. They can have freeze-dried insects too. They only need two to three teaspoons of fruit and veggies per day.
The other big annual cost for sugar gliders is healthcare. Sugar gliders don’t need as much veterinary care as cats and dogs as, for example, there are no regular vaccinations. They do, however, need parasite treatments, which might cost $15-$30 per year, and they should still have an annual checkup. The health problems most common to sugar gliders are obesity and diabetes, but this is best managed through diet and exercise.
If you’re keeping a male and a female together, then it’s a good idea to have the male neutered. Spaying operations are complicated and most vets will not perform the surgery. Neutering surgery costs around $50.
If you choose to get pet insurance for your sugar glider, you can expect to pay premiums between $9-$15 per month for exotic pet coverage.
Things To Know About Sugar Gliders Before Adopting
In addition to how much they cost, there are some other important things you should know about sugar gliders before you decide if they are the right pet for you. All of these “must know” facts come from pet parents who have already had the pleasure of owning a sugar glider.
Toilet Training Is Essential
First, without proper training, your sugar glider may poop at pretty inconvenient moments, such as when you are holding them or when you’re letting them sit on the couch. Toilet training needs to start at a very young age. You will also be surprised just how much poop can come from such small animals.
Talented Escape Artists
Sugar gliders tend to be escape artists, and they tend to be very good at finding ways out of their enclosures. This is not because they are trying to flee; they’re just curious and intelligent animals, so if there is a way out, they will find it. Check your sugar gliders’ enclosure regularly for damage that could lead to a way out.
Remember that sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so they really prefer to be sleeping during the day. If you wake them up from their midday nap for a cuddle, they may not be too happy about it. It’s better to handle them in the evening or early morning when they are more active and alert. Also remember that their habitat will probably emit quite a lot of noise at night, so consider where you place it.
Sugar gliders climb trees in the wild, which necessitates some pretty sharp claws. This can hurt when you let them crawl on you. You may need to trim their nails, since they aren’t being filed down by wear and tear as they would be in the wild. Like dogs, if you take a gentle approach and trim their nails regularly from a young age, your sugar glider can learn to tolerate the experience.
Building A Colony
While sugar gliders are social animals, it is not always easy to introduce a new member into an established group. So if you want a group of sugar glides—for example four—it’s better to get them all at once rather than buy two and then try to introduce more later.
Finding Proper Care
Not all vets are equipped to care for sugar gliders. Before bringing a new sugar glider home, it’s a good idea to look around for a local vet who will be able to help you.
Sugar Glider FAQs
Are sugar gliders easy to take care of?
Sugar gliders are easy to take care of in that they have a pretty straightforward diet, and they don’t need much by way of grooming or medical care, But they do need plenty of attention and affection to thrive, and they have to be handled very carefully to avoid injuring their fragile little bodies.
How long do sugar gliders live?
Sugar gliders will live between three and seven years, where their lifespan is often cut short by predators and food shortages. In captivity, if cared for properly, they can live for 10 to 15 years.
Do sugar gliders need to be in pairs?
Sugar gliders are colony animals in the wild, which means they enjoy being around their own kind and get lonely when on their own. This is why it’s usually recommended to get at least a pair of sugar gliders, or three of four if you have space. Human companionship, while welcome, can’t replace the companionship of other sugar gliders.
How often can I hold my sugar gliders?
Sugar gliders quite enjoy the affection of being held, and it’s a good idea to hold them regularly from a young age to get them accustomed to it. You can hold them three or four times a day for about 30 minutes at a time. You may have to start slower and build up if you adopt an adult glider who is not accustomed to being held.
What are the negatives of owning sugar gliders?
Sugar gliders aren’t cheap to buy, and there are also legal restrictions on their ownership in many areas. Despite being small animals, sugar gliders need a lot of space, so it can be difficult to build appropriate habitats for them in your home. Not all vets have the expertise required to provide appropriate care to sugar gliders.
Do pet sugar gliders smell?
Like most animals, sugar gliders have their own distinctive smell. It’s often described as musky. This is their natural smell, so it’s always around, even when they are well bathed.
The smell of their habitat enclosure is a different question! You can limit its smell by ensuring that you clean it regularly and by toilet training your sugar gliders. They can be trained to use something akin to kitty litter.
Do sugar gliders need baths?
Much like cats, sugar gliders tend to bathe themselves and keep themselves clean, and there is no reason that you should need to bathe them with water and shampoo. However, you can give them a bath if they happen to get into something particularly filthy.
So sugar gliders make noise at night?
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so they are most active at night. When they’re communicating with one another, you can expect them to make a kind of barking sound, like a tiny dog. So, yes, expect quite a bit of sound to come from their enclosure during the night.
Are sugar gliders intelligent?
Yes, sugar gliders are very intelligent and can be considered about as smart as the majority of dog species. Like dogs, they can be trained to recognize their name and come when they are called. They can be toilet trained, and they can even learn tricks.
Do sugar glider bites hurt?
Sugar gliders aren’t aggressive animals, but they could bite if they’re startled or scared. The bite will probably surprise more than hurt the human. If your sugar glider likes to groom you, they may also lightly bite your skin as part of the grooming process and then lick the same spot.
Bringing Home A Pair Of Sugar Gliders
Do you think you are ready to bring home a pair of sugar gliders? You should probably budget at least $1,000 for your initial outlay. This should cover the purchase of two infant sugar gliders from a reputable breeder and the setup of an appropriate habitat.
You should then have a budget for about $500 a year to care for your pair of gliders. This should be enough to cover their food, consisting of pellets and fresh fruit and veggies, plus other necessaries like new bedding, parasite treatments, and more.
While it certainly adds up, sugar gliders are relatively affordable pets and certainly make cute and personality-filled companions.