The Petster’s Sugar Glider talk went very well and I was asked a few questions like are they endangered? Do we need a license to have them? How about keeping a sugar glider in our climate?
Well, firstly, sugar gliders are from the genus Petaurus Breciveps, widely found as pets and also as wild gliders in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and also some parts of Australia. In other countries, sugar gliders are illegal to keep due to the country’s law on keeping exotic animals, such as Singapore. In Australia, one is required to have a special permit to keep gliders. In US, breeders and keepers are required to get a license to keep and breed them. In Malaysia, it is pretty lenient. Almost anyone can own a glider since there is no need for any license or permit. Just a wallet full of cash and you can obtain a joey easily.
It is sad that there are many sugar glider mills and profit sellers in Malaysia. I know, everyone needs to make a living but to me it’s really is evil to see people place adult gliders that are wild and scared in cramped cages, selling them for about RM120 as breeding adults. The joeys are the ones that roll in the money for these unethical sellers and pet shops. Each joey can fetch a price of about RM400, and people do not realise that for that amount of money, they can get a perfectly healthy and active joey from a proper homebreeder. The joeys at pet shops are sometimes malnourished. They have been separated from their mother before they are fully weaned, then placed in cages with half a rotten apple. It is like taking a baby that is still nursing and giving it a chicken drumstick, expecting the baby to eat it. I have seen so many sad sights, where the joeys try their best to eat the apples or dry dog food put into their small tanks or cages. Many do end up dead and are thrown into the trash can like a piece of rubbish.
It is a sad sight. Just look how small and vulnerable and weak this joey is:
I think the joey is not more than 4 weeks OOP. The proper age should be 8 weeks OOP. Majority of the pet shops have staff that do not read up on the basic care nor do any research. They just advice base on what was given by the suppliers/mills. Just feed apples, mealworms and dry cat food. Some would even say keep them in hamster cages! I have had many SOS calls from people, last minute asking me why their joeys are weak, cannot walk, have difficulty eating…. when I question them about the diet, I was given the same answer over and over again – “I feed apples only and some cat food with yogurt”
It is not too hard to keep sugar gliders in Malaysia. We have some basic necessities such as large bird cages, homemade bonding pouches and sleeping pouches, cage accessories and toys as well as an abundant of local fruits. We are actually blessed with a variety of tropical fruits that we can get easily, such jambu air or water apple, sugar apple, papaya, ciku, rambutan, mango and so on. A glider just needs a diet with plenty of fruits and veggies of different varieties, supplement food (GliderSLURP), crickets and mealworms.
We still need to educate the public about sugar gliders. I am very glad to see that some forums have sugar glider communities, already having debates and sharing about glider care. This is certainly improvement. I just hope more people would join such forums and learn from the senior keepers. Learn about underage joeys and also how to locate a good breeder in my next post.