Petaurus breviceps means short-headed rope dancer but it is more appropriate to call these animals sugar gliders because of their preference for sugary food like nectar and their capability to glide through the air.
This pet resides in countries like Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea but has been introduced to the U.S. in the late 90’s and has since become a hot commodity in the exotic pet market.
Although the temptation of bringing this cutie home is understandable, actually doing so may be difficult as this animal is prohibited in some parts America.
Sneak Peek on the Real Cost of Sugar Gliders
Aside from informing you how much are sugar gliders, this article will also provide you with information regarding their maintenance cost in terms of food, supplements, and medical expenses. Expenses regarding the creation of a proper shelter, including its accessories will also be discussed.
Variables that affect the cost of gliders will also be explored. Finally, you will be provided with options on where to buy a sugar glider depending on your needs.
Sugar Glider Upfront Cost
As an exotic pet, sugar gliders can be hard to obtain. Some pet stores and shelters offer these animals but your best bet is to obtain them from breeders. These will cost $110 to $800 depending on the coloration and the age.
Apart from the pet itself, other one-time costs are the following:
- Transporting Cost
If you plan on traveling with your glider, an 8-inch x 7.5-inch carry pouch made from polar fleece with a scratch-proof vinyl-coated polyester window will cost $19.
It is also more convenient to buy them online which will require a $50 to $150 deposit that will be credited to your payment but you also have to consider the additional shipping which will cost about $90 to $150.
- Shelter/Cage and Accessories Costs
It is in the nature of sugar gliders to climb and to glide down so a tall shelter is necessary. It should not be smaller than 20 inches x 20 inches x 30 inches with a wire mesh or metal bar construction to ensure proper ventilation.
If you are trying to save money, second-hand bird cages can be used for this purpose. A heavy duty cage made specifically for sugar gliders with a dimension of 28-inch x 24-inch x 66-inch will cost about $240. This will also include removable feed dishes and climbing posts, a pull-out bottom tray for easier cleaning and casters so you can move the cage around.
Since sugar gliders are nocturnal, an enclosed nesting area or hiding area will be required so they can be away from human activity during the day as this is their natural sleeping time. A wooden birdhouse or a plastic hamster house can serve this purpose but gliders seem to prefer soft cloth pouches for sleeping. A 14-inch x 6-inch flannel nesting pouch that you can hang from their cage will cost about $11.
A 3-inch diameter stoneware heavy-weight bowl will cost about $10. These feeding bowls will be hard to move for the glider and will not tip. If you want to hang the bowls high on the cage, you will need to buy bowls with hook attachments. A 3-piece set of 3-inch diameter stainless steel hanging pet bowl will cost around $17.
Open bowls of water are not recommended because the glider will poop in it and drink on it as well. An 11.2 oz. BPA-free no-drip bottle that is good for sugar gliders (has small 10mm nozzle) will cost about $13.
The bedding can be made from shredded plain paper, recycled paper, or wood shavings and will be used to collect and contain waste such as urine, droppings, or food at the bottom of the cage. This must be non-toxic in case the pet ingests them. A 3-pack of 178-liter natural paper bedding is cheap and will cost you $100. Smaller packs would cost you about $5 – $20.
What Exactly Do You Get Upon Purchasing
When you buy a sugar glider, you will get them in a pouch to bring them home. More established breeders will offer you setup packages that include cages and food supplies, but these are not included with the sugar glider and must be purchased for an additional cost.
Buying an older glider will usually come with a cage, toys, food bowls and even bedding for free. Make sure you do your research before buying because a free shelter setup can save you a significant amount as you will see below.
Additional items you would get when purchasing a sugar glider from legitimate sources are the following:
- Papers which state that you now own the sugar glider
- Medical Documents of the animal’s current condition and medical history
- Documents that have the basic sugar glider need-to-knows (small pamphlet or manual)
Costs of Maintaining a Sugar Glider
- Food and Supplement Costs
Gliders eat insects, fruits, and vegetables so their diet is low in fat. If you plan on feeding a commercial diet, you should look for a 100% natural diet. If it contains additional vitamins, calcium and vitamin D then you will have less need for supplementation.
A pre-mixed protein and fruit and vegetable diet will cost about $24 for a 28-ounce bag which will last 2-3 weeks for 2 sugar gliders if you feed this exclusively and even longer if you provide additional treats. An insectivore mix containing gut loaded insect larva, grains, and berries will cost about $20 for 1 pound bag which will last up to two weeks if fed exclusively.
Mealworms and crickets can also be fed as treats. You can feed about 10-12 mealworms daily but avoid insects caught outside as these may be contaminated by pesticide. A supply of 1000 live mealworms will cost about $18 and will last for about 7 weeks.
You can save a little and create variety by making a homemade diet using hard boiled eggs, yogurt, lean cuts of meat, or tofu as a protein source.
You will also need to buy supplementation. A branded 3-in-1 of multivitamin with prebiotics, calcium supplement for hind leg problems and nectar, and pollen supplement will cost $55.
- Hygiene Costs
The cage must be cleaned once a month but there will be no need for commercial cleaning agents because scrubbing and wiping it with vinegar and hot water will suffice. This combination is a non-toxic cleaner. The bowls and toys should also be scrubbed and washed with hot water.
In terms of grooming, there will be no costs as gliders do not need a bath and they groom each other. If you feel like their claws are damaging, you may opt to trim them with a small pet nail scissor that will cost about $8. If you own a Wodent Wheel, then you can install nail trimmer inserts which slowly files their nails while they are having fun running. A 3-piece set will cost about $39.
- Medical Costs
Sugar gliders are not known carriers of diseases so there will be no need for vaccinations as well as “ongoing” treatments such as that for heartworm.
You will have to bring them to the vet at least once a year for “wellness” check-ups that will cost around $50.
Of course, these animals can also get sick like other pets so if you see unwanted signs such as droopy ears, eyes half shut, cracked fur, balding patches, as well as appearing dehydrated, then you should have them checked immediately.
These emergency vet visits are hard to price so it is smart to set up an emergency fund that will lighten the financial load when a pet does need an emergency visit to the vet. You can also opt for pet insurance which will cost about $30 a month but if you have a lot of gliders then this is an impractical choice.
Neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is a simpler procedure to castrate the males than to spay all females. Depending on location and the veterinarian performing the procedure, neutering will cost about $40 to $350. Having the gliders neutered at the breeder will cost significantly cheaper.
You can get creative on the toys that you give your pet but if you plan on buying glider-specific toys, then it is a good idea to buy a pack. A popular set containing a feather toy for interaction, an 11-inch Wodent Wheel for exercise, and a 24-inch stretch rope toy will cost about $32.
- License and Permits
Gliders are not native to the United States so some states like California ban it outright. Some states like Nevada allow them without the need for licenses while some states will require a permit for ownership of exotic wildlife (class III) which will cost $10 every year as well as yearly inspections of the shelter of your pet.
Variables Affecting the Price of Sugar Gliders
When shopping for a glider, you will encounter some “incidental” sellers who are owners of sugar gliders that produced offspring. They become overwhelmed by additional babies so they put their sugar gliders for sale. These gliders are usually well cared for, generally healthy, and very cheap at about $110, but the problem is the inbreeding between the gliders.
It is better if you buy a glider that is vet-certified healthy from a USDA certified breeder. These breeders ensure that a clean family line is controlled by preventing any closely bred or inbred offspring. This prevents any sterility issues or other problems.
This is important because the price of a sugar glider will also depend on color and markings with some desirable colorations going as high as $800. These colorations are dependent on genes so the lineage must be known. That said, the price of a properly bred glider will be more expensive at about $200 to $500 for an 8-12 week old “joey”.
Adults will sell cheaper at around $150 because these are harder to bond with and train, but also because most sellers of adults are just trying to dispose of their pets due to a variety of reasons such as relocation or lack of time to care for the gliders.
Tips on Where and How to Buy Sugar Gliders
It is also important to know that gliders are social animals and buying a single glider will result in its depression along with other problems. It is responsible to buy 2 or more of these animals to keep each other company as well as groom each other.
Currently, there are no Petco or PetSmart prices available but you can visit these pet shops and inquire if they are planning to sell these animals.
The Pet Glider offers gliders from $299 for a classic colored male and up to $799 for a female black face black beauty. They also offer them in pairs for $450. The males are already neutered.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, Glider Pets offers male unneutered gliders for as low as $125 but you can have them neutered for an additional $25. The female joeys cost around $150. Janda Exotics also offer gliders on the lower end for about $150 for a classic male but prices can rise up to $550 for a mosaic female.
If you are looking to save pets that cannot be cared for by their owners anymore and rehome them, Exotic Animals For Sale offers gliders that are older for as low as $160 to rehome a grey female, but you can also buy gliders that can cost up to $600 for a ringtailed joey which comes with 1 month supply of food and pouches. Pairs are also available for as low as $250.
As you can see above, the cost of owning a glider will mostly come from the cost of a proper habitat and the price of the glider itself. Even medical care and food are not significant contributors on the cost but if you want your gliders to be happy, make sure that they are being fed properly and visit a vet at least once a year. This way, you can share a lot of happy times for the duration of their long lifespan.