A sugar glider is quite adventurous and easily able to escape. They are quite smart and are almost always unwilling to be alone. They seek out companionship and will almost always try to locate their owner, “mommy,” or “daddy” if anyway possible. This can result in a tragedy in the making. However, as adorable as they are, there comes a time when the gliders must learn how to spend sometime by themselves in their cage, which is when a cage will become very important. They are very small animals but need large amounts of space to romp and play. Nothing can be more enjoyable than watching a glider play in a large cage full of toys. Think of them as babies, the more toys the more they can learn.
Bigger is better! It would be best to get the tallest cage possible, at least 3 feet. An aquarium is not a suitable cage. Many of the sugar glider cages I have seen for sale are way too small. It is VERY cruel to keep a glider in a small cage. Bare wire cages can irritate glider feet and it can get really noisy when they climb on it. It is best to get or make a vinyl or powder coated wire cage. Not only does this minimize risk of irritation and is a lot quieter, it is also much easier to clean and will not rust. I have heard that galvanized wire might cause heavy metal poisoning, but I have also heard of people having no problems at all. In order for this to happen, your glider has to continually chew on the wire and ingest it. Just to be safe, do not use bare galvanized wire. There are plexi-glass cages available for sugar gliders, but these can scratch easily and you have to provide lots more climbing branches. If you are going to buy a cage make sure the hole spacing is not any bigger than 1/2″ x 1″, smaller if you are planning to breed them. You may want to consider buying a birdcage; however, it can be really expensive to buy a cage tall enough. If you don’t have a big budget, I would suggest making a cage. It is not hard to make a cage even if you do not have much experience, tools, or space. I built my cage in the living room. If you cannot find vinyl coated wire, it may be better to buy your cage.
Stuff to Put Inside Your Cage
1. Nest box or pouch. Gliders need a secure place to sleep. A nest box is best if you have several gliders or are breeding them. If you get a nest box, make sure that it is not bare wood as the glider’s pee will soak into it and have to be replaced often. It would be best to get a plastic or plexi-glass box. In the bottom, you should put some kind of liner such as aspen bedding, tissues or a piece of fleece. However if you have less than four gliders, I recommend getting a pouch instead. You can take their pouch out of the cage and dump them directly into your bonding pouch without disturbing them too much. This can make the bonding process a lot easier on the both of you. You should have more than one to make sure they have a clean one. I have both a pouch and a nest box in my cage and they alternate between them.
2. Non-toxic branches and perches. Some good non-toxic branches are eucalyptus and Manzanita. These can be usually be found by looking at a bird specialty store or website. You also could use live tree branches but make sure they are nontoxic and have not been sprayed with pesticides. House plants (even non-toxic ones) inside your gliders cage is not a good idea though. You can have trees or plants for them to play on outside of their cages; provided you supervise them carefully to make sure they are not eating any. Many glider owners have hibiscus or eucalyptus trees for playing in. If you are worried, about which plants might be toxic
3. Food dishes and water bottle. Large birdseed cups work well as they attach to the side. Get ceramic or stainless steel dishes if possible, plastic dishes scratch easily and can harbor harmful bacteria. Gliders will not usually eat food too close to the ground. In addition, if they are placed high in the cage, it is less likely poop will fall in their food. Water bottles should not be too big; the water needs to be changed often. Bird water bottles are a good choice.
4. Toys. Bird toys such as swings, rings, ladders, and mirrors help to entertain gliders. Just be careful not to get any with loose strings or fabric they might ingest. Be sure to rotate toys to keep gliders from losing interest. A wheel can provide additional entertainment and exercise. However, an exercise wheel should not have crossbars or spaces where fragile tails can be caught, so regular hamster wheels are not a good idea. A lot of glider owners and breeders highly recommend the Wodent Wheel as a safe choice.
5. Bedding. You will probably want to put some type of bedding on the floor of the cage. Do Not use newspaper, cedar, or pine; these are toxic to small animals. Instead, use aspen shavings, oat hull, or corncob bedding.
6. Plastic or metal tray. One you put under your cage (Mess Catcher) and the other is a sliding litter tray replacement (The Critter Tray.) They come in fairly large sizes.
How should I clean my cage?
Every week or so, you will need to clean your cage. If you have a male, be careful not to clean too often. If you are constantly cleaning their cage this will often result in the males scent marking more. I have found that a mixture of baking soda and water sprayed on the cage and rinsed off helps control odor best.