Sugar gliders’ reproductive anatomy and physiology are worlds apart from humans! This article aims to answer some commonly asked questions regarding sugar glider reproduction. After reading this article, you might agree that sugar gliders are one of mother nature’s most wonderfully weird creatures!
Do Female Sugar Gliders Menstruate or Have a Period?
Female sugar gliders do not menstruate. They will come on heat (estrous) roughly every 29 days, and heat typically lasts 24-48 hours. Sugar Gliders do not bleed while they are on heat.
While humans have a menstrual cycle where bleeding occurs after the fertile period has passed, nearly all other mammals (apart from a few primate and bat species) have estrous cycles. During an estrous cycle, the female will only be receptive to the male during the fertile period, called ‘estrus’ or ‘heat.’
Unlike sugar gliders, some animals such as dogs bleed during heat. In addition, some animals show noticeable behavioral changes during estrus, such as increased vocalization, activity, or seeking out males. However, the signs of heat are not always that evident in sugar gliders.
How To Know My Sugar Glider Is In Heat: 4 Signs
Female sugar gliders will not show any obvious signs of heat. However, some female sugar gliders may become restless and vocalize more often. Male sugar gliders will show increased interest in the female, and the female will allow the male to mount. Sugar gliders do not bleed from their cloaca when in estrus.
1. Increased Interest From Male Sugar Gliders
If you keep a male with your female, you will be able to tell when the female is in heat in that he will suddenly take a keen interest in her and follow her around. This is probably the most reliable way to tell whether a female sugar glider is in heat.
The male may try to mount her repeatedly, and some male sugar gliders become very aggressive if a nearby female is in heat and may bite the female while mounting her.
2. Vocalisation and Restlessness
Some female sugar gliders may make a characteristic noise that sounds like something between a long hiss and a bark. In addition, she may become more active or restless and may even be slightly aggressive; however, aggression is more closely associated with pregnancy in sugar gliders.
3. Increased Scent Marking
Female sugar gliders will scent mark their territory with urine and secretion from their s ent glands more often while in heat to indicate receptiveness to breeding to nearby males.
4. Reduced Appetite
Both male and female sugar gliders will have a reduced appetite while in heat, and some males may stop eating for 24 hours while covering the female.
Do Female Sugar Gliders Urine Mark?
Female sugar gliders will urine mark their territory. In addition, females have scent glands within their pouch, of which the secretion will increase when she is in heat. Female sugar gliders will increase scent marking to indicate breeding receptiveness during heat.
Both male and female sugar gliders will scent mark their territory using secretions from their scent gland, but only female sugar gliders seem to scent mark using urine. Males have scent glands on the forehead, chest, and anal glands. Males will rub their heads on a female’s chest.
What Must I Do If I Have A Male And Female Sugar Glider But Do Not Want To Breed Them?
If you have sugar gliders of the opposite sex kept together and do not want to breed them, you need to have the male castrated. Female sugar gliders are not sterilized unless for medical reasons due to it being a high-risk surgery for female gliders due to their complex reproductive anatomy.
When a male sugar glider is castrated, he needs to be kept away from females for at least 3 weeks after surgery as he will still be able to impregnate a female for a few weeks after surgery. This will also prevent him from damaging his surgical wound after castration.
Reproductive Cycle And Anatomy Of The Female Sugar Glider
Female sugar gliders have a bilobed uterus, meaning that they have two uteri and two services joined by a single birth canal with a vaginal canal on either side of the birth canal. They have a single opening for the reproductive, urogenital, and gastrointestinal tract called a cloaca.
Female sugar gliders reach sexual maturity around 8-12 months. Wild sugar gliders will typically only breed during the warmer months when high protein food in the form of insects is abundant. However, sugar gliders can breed year-round in captivity due to having access to high-protein food and a warm environment.
A sugar glider’s estrous cycle is approximately 29 days, meaning that she will be in heat approximately every 29 days. Heat typically lasts 24-48 hours.
The gestation period of sugar gliders is around 17 days, after which the embryo will climb into the mother’s pouch for another 70 days. Sugar gliders usually have 1-2 young at a time. The doe has two teats on which the joey can feed.
Joeys become independent at around 17 weeks but may still remain in the parent nest for some time after.
Reproductive Physiology And Anatomy Of The Male Sugar Glider
Males sugar gliders reach sexual maturity around 12-14 months. They have a forked penis, and their testes are contained in a central scrotum outside the abdominal cavity. The urinary opening (where he pees) is at the bottom of the bifurcation of the penis.
When a male sugar glider cannot retract his penis back into his sheath for an extended time, permanent damage to the penis may have ensued, in which case he will need to have a penile amputation.
Sugar gliders have unique reproductive anatomy and physiology, and glider owners need to understand what is normal to know when something is wrong. If you are concerned about any reproductive issue regarding your sugar glider, it is best to contact your exotics veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem.
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