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A small plastic mirror is a popular pet cage accessory, but do sugar gliders enjoy gazing at themselves as rats and birds do?
Most sugar gliders will not interact with a mirror. Sugar gliders are highly territorial, and those that do interact with the mirror might initially perceive their reflection as an intruder. A mirror will not help remedy loneliness for a singleton sugar glider.
Common Reactions Seen When Introducing Sugar Gliders To Mirrors
Ignoring The Mirror
Paying no attention to the mirror is by far the most common reaction seen when sugar gliders first see a mirror and are especially true for small mirrors.
Many sugar glider owners report that a new small mirror seems to go unnoticed by the sugar gliders. They might initially inspect the new object but will seldomly interact with their reflection.
Jump Towards The Mirror
Jumping towards the mirror is a common reaction to a larger or decorative home mirror. Sugar glider owners who walk around their home with their glider on their shoulders might be familiar with this reaction.
Sugar gliders will often try to leap toward their owner’s reflection, so beware when walking past a mirror with your glider on your shoulder as this could cause injury!
Showing Aversion To The Mirror
Sugar gliders are very territorial and some gliders may perceive the mirror to be an intruder. This reaction is often seen in those gliders that initially inspect a newly placed mirror in their cage when they notice their reflection.
They might show signs of aggression to what they perceive to be an intruder sugar glider. Even though this reaction may be comical to watch, if they continually show aversion to the mirror, it is best to remove it from the cage to prevent unnecessary stress.
Sugar Gliders Can Get Used To Mirrors
Sugar gliders are intelligent little creatures, and if exposed to a mirror repeatedly, they will likely get used to this novel object. Eventually, they will learn that they can’t jump toward their owner’s reflection and that the reflected sugar glider is not a threat.
Many sugar glider owners who introduce a mirror as a cage accessory find that they completely ignore the mirror after the initial curiosity has passed.
Will A Mirror Help My Sugar Glider Be Less Lonely?
Introducing a singleton sugar glider to a mirror will not help them be less lonely. Sugar gliders should not be kept alone. Sugar gliders live in colony groups in the wild and require interaction with other sugar gliders for their emotional wellbeing.
Sugar gliders need physical interaction with other gliders and their owners for socialization, and a mirror most definitely does not meet these requirements.
It is far better to adopt a companion sugar glider if you have a lonely glider. Be sure to either get the same-sex glider or have the male neutered if you have opposite sex gliders to prevent unwanted breeding.
Sugar Glider Approved Cage Accessories
A Running Wheel
Sugar gliders love to use a running wheel! If you do not already have one, I would highly recommend getting one.
A few important things to remember when looking for a running wheel:
- Sugar gliders not only run but jump inside running wheels. The wheel needs to be large enough for them to make small leaps in
- There need to be small openings on the running surface of the wheel for urine and feces to be let out to prevent them from making a mess
- The openings on the running surface must be of such nature that their toes will not be able to get stuck while running
Here are a few good running wheels available on Chewy and Amazon:
- Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel Senior Plus Nail-O-Matic™ Insert & Tail Shield (best pick)
- Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel
- Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner Small Animal Exercise Wheel
Teaser toys, Foraging Toys, And Climbing Ropes
Dangling, feathery cat toys can provide hours of fun for sugar gliders. If you want to make it even more interesting, add a few healthy treats to the toys for them to retrieve.
Building a foraging tree using plastic and felt can be a rather large DIY project but is guaranteed to get your sugar gliders climbing and exploring. See the example of a homemade felt climbing tree below.
It is not really worth getting your glider a mirror as a cage accessory. Your birds will likely enjoy the mirror much more than your glider. Instead, consider getting your glider soft climbing toys such as ropes.
As unique as each glider’s personality is, so is their reaction to the novelty of a mirror. Oh, what I would give to know what goes through their little minds when they explore new things!