If the concept of caring for a small pet appeals to you, investigate the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps). The furry marsupial is friendly if not downright jovial. He's a showstopper -- you'll never forget him once you've seen him. His diminutive body makes his oversize eyes seem massive.
Sugar Glider Size
Sugar gliders are tiny -- it's no joke. Fully mature female sugar gliders typically weigh in the range of 80 grams to 130 grams, while mature males are a little bigger at 100 to 160 grams, according to SmallAnimalChannel.com. The marsupials' bodies are usually 5 to 6 inches long, with tails about as long, says veterinarian Lorraine A. Corriveau of the Veterinary Hospital of Purdue University.
The sugar glider's whimsical name is actually fitting. Not only do the small creatures have parachutelike gliding membrane muscles they love to use, they also really like consuming sweet things -- think tree sap, for example.
Sugar gliders kept indoors as pets typically live longer than their wild counterparts. The captive cuties often live between 10 and 15 years; the range for free-roaming sugar gliders is markedly shorter -- in the range of 5 to 7 years old.
Sugar gliders that live in the wild do so in tree settings -- within holes. It is very uncommon for the territorial animals to make any contact with the ground. The sugar glider originated in New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia.
Sugar Glider Diet
Sugar gliders are omnivorous -- they consume both animal and plant matter. Some dietary staples for the creatures are eucalyptus tree sweet sap, acacia tree gum, spiders, larvae, small bugs and nectar. Captive sugar gliders eat mealworms, crickets and ample fresh veggies and fruits, such as broccoli, carrots, apples, grapes, corn and peas.
Sugar gliders have conspicuously large eyes that enable them to see well in the dark, according to the website for the American Museum of Natural History. It's a good thing: The little guys are nocturnal -- that is, they conduct most of their business overnight.
Sense of Community
Sugar gliders are not loners. The animals are highly social and community-oriented. In the wild, sugar gliders sleep in groups of up to 7 -- all snuggled together in a cozy tree hole. Because they thrive on companionship, captive sugar gliders need to be kept in pairs. They thrive on company, after all.
Sugar glider predators include owls, snakes, cats, mulgaras and kookaburras.
In some states, sugar glider ownership is illegal. If you are interested in owning one of these small, exotic creatures but aren't certain about the rules in your specific location, contact a government agency or office in your area -- your city hall, for example.