We were at the local county fair last night and saw a stand selling the cutest little creatures. At closer inspection, the little animal was a sugar glider. The cutest things ever. The salesmen had the little gliders right there and were handing out literature that made the sugar glider look like the perfect pet. I had to know more. Oh also, did I mention the cute little gliders were going for a whopping $500 each!
Off to Google I went this morning to investigate. Turns out the glider isn't quite the perfect pet the salesman made them out to be. They are cute, yes, that part's not a lie. But here are some of the reasons sugar gliders might not be so good as pets (despite the salesman's pitch that they're the perfect pet):
- They poop and pee everywhere. They cannot be trained to use a litter box.
- They sleep all day. And are up all night. Which means you'll hear them "barking," hissing, and banging around in their cages all night.
- They eat an exotic diet, which means mealworms, grubs, and fruit. The fruit part is easy, I don't mind keeping apples in my fridge. But I don't feel the same way about grubs, mealworms, and other creepy-crawlies!
- The sugar gliders are messy — in addition to going to the bathroom all over the place, they also are messy eaters and can even throw their food! Yikes!
- Their cages get messy quickly (see above!). And if they aren't cleaned every other day, can get pretty smelly. You have to pick up the left over bits of food immediately or they'll begin to rot and get smelly as well.
- They are social animals and aren't meant to live without other gliders.
- They need a large cage (not the tiny one they come in).
- They bite. Hard. Deep.
- They live up to 15 years! That's a long-term commitment!
Why go on and on about sugar gliders, you're probably wondering. This is, after all, a DOG blog. The sugar-glider situation reminds me of puppy mills. Lots of "awww, aren't they cute!" Lots of impulse buys. No research. And within a few months, they're given up for adoption. And lots of money exchanging hands with the sales people getting richer and richer, yet the fate of the animals gets worse and worse.
I'm not sure what makes our society so impulsive. Or so willing to spend good money on an animal (or anything!) without so much as a cursory check for more information. It's mind-boggling…
L. Carr, DVM says
another reason that sugar gliders don’t make good pets…if they are housed singlely most will develop a self mutilation syndrome because they don’t have the social interaction that they need.
we don’t know their exact nutritional requirements and see metabolic bone disease as a common problem in them also
Laurie Luck, CPDT says
I will pass this info along to my cousin, who bought the sugar glider despite all my info…