Have you ever met a sugar glider? If you’re ever in a eucalyptus forest in Australia, chances are you might run into one. You’ll see them gliding from tree to tree in search of sweet nectar.

These small animals might look like squirrels, but they’re actually marsupials. That means they’re more closely related to kangaroos

Where did the name “sugar glider“ come from? Well, these little animals do like their sweets. They will eat a variety of things, including bugs and vegetables. But they prefer nectar. They eat it in the form of the sweet sap of eucalyptus, acacia, and other trees.

How about the “glider” part of their name? That comes from their ability to glide from tree to tree. Do sugar gliders have wings? No, instead they use a special membrane—called the patagium. It extends from their fingers along the sides of their bodies to their toes, like webbing. They glide in much the same way that so-called flying squirrels glide from tree to tree.

To glide, sugar gliders leap from a higher position to a lower position. Thye use their arms, legs, special membrane and tail to glide through the air. They can glide over distances of up to 150 feet! Their webbed membrane acts sort of like a parachute to slow their fall.

Sugar gliders are nocturnal. This means they sleep during the day and actively hunt for food at night. When the weather is cold or food is scarce, sugar gliders will reduce their activity. They enter an emergency resting phase called torpor. During torpor, they may sleep up to 23 hours a day. 

Sugar gliders are exotic animals. Still, they have become popular pets in some areas. Most states allow people to keep sugar gliders as pets. However, there are a few states that either do not allow sugar gliders to be kept as pets or regulate their existence. These include California, Hawaii, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

Are you ready to rush out to your nearest exotic pet store to buy a sugar glider? You may want to think twice. Sugar gliders take time — sometimes several months — to bond with their owners. In the process, they’ve been known to bite, which can be a danger to younger children.

Sugar gliders also have special dietary needs. You can’t just buy a bag of “sugar glider food” at the store. Most sugar gliders need fresh foods prepared daily, including fruits, vegetables, and insects.

Since they’re nocturnal, getting used to living with a sugar glider can be difficult. Your noise during the day can keep a sugar glider from getting its rest. Likewise, the sugar glider’s nighttime activities can keep you awake!

Would you like to have a pet sugar glider? Sugar gliders can be great pets if you’re up to the task. Just do your research and make sure you fully understand what it will mean to own and care for a sugar glider. Know what you’re getting into before you invite one into your family!

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, NGSS.LS1.C, NGSS.LS4.B, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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