The simple answer to the question “Can a sugar glider live alone” is both yes and no. This answer relies heavily on interaction and the personality of your sugar glider. It also has everything to do with how comfortable they are just being with their owner.
A single sugar glider that is being looked after will learn to depend on its owner all the time. Since their owner is the only interaction they will have in their life, they will not know any better. In some cases, a sugar glider will do better with a buddy or two, but it all depends.
To understand the question of having one or two – or more – sugar gliders all depends on how much time you can devote to them. All of these issues will be covered in this guide for raising sugar gliders.
- Can sugar gliders live alone?
- If you only have a single sugar glider and you are often away
- How long can a sugar glider be left alone?
- How do I know my sugar glider is happy?
- How to introduce a second sugar glider
- What is a good number of companions?
- Wrapping Up
Can sugar gliders live alone?
In their native environment, sugar gliders live in colonies that share a nest of at least 10 others. They live and hunt in trees for most of their lives, but are continually hunted by predators. Since they live in a large nest with others for safety reasons.
A sugar glider raised by itself will more often than not miss the needed interaction with other gliders. It does not mean that it cannot be kept on its own at all. It just means that would need to be constantly around and with your critter, provided there are enough daily activities and interactions to keep them healthy and happy.
This is why you want to bond well with your glider from the very beginning. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months to bond with your sugar glider, most of which time is spent handling them for a couple of hours for them to get used to you and your scent. The rest of the time is just keeping them busy as they are nocturnal critters and need a cage that’s good for them.
So the real question you need to ask yourself is, do I really have the time and availability to mimic the interaction they naturally have with other gliders? Will I be able to give them enough playtime and entertainment to keep them happy every single day? Only you can answer that question, as long as you know the challenges you will be facing.
If you only have a single sugar glider and you are often away
In the case that you work a lot and have a job that keeps you from being at home, there is an immediate solution. Many sugar glider owners bring a travel cage that transports their sugar gliders everywhere they go. Some owners will go so far as to put them in a travel pouch so they can sleep during the day.
If you leave them at home a lot, you can tell they are unhappy if they are not eating, pooping, or being very active. You need to be worried if they stop eating or drinking, as this can lead to death. Remember that they need at least 2 hours of active physical interaction per day once they have bonded with you.
How long can a sugar glider be left alone?
If you’ve bonded with your little sugar glider, they want to be around you as much as possible. So the problem is that you can’t leave them for long periods because they will become lonely and scared. Even with a buddy, the longest you can stay away from them is one day.
Gliders are marsupials so they need that warmth and comfort that will remind them of their mother’s pouch. Putting them in a little sack you carry around will be normal for them, if you have to be away from home very often.
Since they are not able to live in the wild anymore, you need to give them continual loving care. In return, they will be content and live a long and healthy life at long as 12 years.
How do I know my sugar glider is happy?
You will know your sugar glider is happy when they easily jump onto your hands and want to be held. They will depend on you and desire to be around you all the time as a result of your bonding time. If they are playing games with you and being energetic, this is a sure sign they are healthy and happy.
As for sugar glider depression symptoms, it won’t take much to see that there is something wrong. If they are not eating, a sugar glider could be upset or even depressed. Also, look to see if their skin is slouchy. You might want to take them to a vet if their symptoms don’t improve.
Can sugar gliders die of loneliness?
To answer this question is hard since it depends on how neglected they might feel. If you can’t give them enough time to keep them happy and active, they will get depressed.
This in turn will lead to them not feeding themselves as much as they should, and this can lead to death very soon. So sugar gliders do not die of loneliness per se, but they may die of the symptoms associated with their depression such as not eating and drinking. Because they are small animals, it doesn’t take much neglect to see this happen.
How to introduce a second sugar glider
So you waited too long to add a second sugar glider to your habitat, and now you want to introduce a younger one. How to introduce a new friend all depends on how old the first sugar glider is compared to the newest one. These little ones mature in 7-10 months, so the age difference is relevant.
The mature one will be more aggressive and dominant, so you have to have separate cages that are raised side by side. Give them time to get used to each other, but not in the same cage.
Slowly let them interact after the first week with gradual interaction. It’s not like they will kill each other, however, the more dominant older one may try to show who is boss.
What is a good number of companions?
There is no special number they prefer since it’s all up to how many you want to take care of. If you want half a dozen, raise half a dozen of them as you like. But be sure to separate those that aren’t neutered, since sugar glider breeding is another ballgame altogether.
In general, the basic number is two or three as a group. Two females and one male is good, so you don’t have two males fighting for the only female. They will find ways to entertain and interact with each other when they are awake at night.
Do I have to get two babies?
If you prefer to get them when they are young, be sure to get two babies that are 8-12 weeks old at the youngest. This is the best time you can start to get them used to being handled and bonding times are faster. With two babies, there isn’t any period they need time to get used to each other.
They will both get used to you or more than one owner. At this age, they will start to learn which owner they prefer more, but single owners won’t experience this. Any babies you raise will accept and bond with you over a short period.
You don’t have to get two babies at the same time, but there’s a long introduction process if you wait longer, since older sugar gliders can be territorial.
You can raise a single sugar glider if you are responsible enough to know they are going to crave being near you all the time. If they aren’t sleeping in your hand, they will be inside a sleeping pouch. They will come out when it’s time to wake up in the evening hours.
This makes it ideal if you have a long day shift or a swing shift. Until you get home and return your sugar glider to its cage, it will be comforted by having been around you all day long. As long as you do this every day without changing these habits, they will be perfectly fine.
Resources and further reading:
- Special Considerations for Sugar Gliders, Rosemary J. Booth
- Do I have to get 2 gliders, David Brust, Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarian