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It is estimated that the cost of owning a sugar glider for the entirety of its life may be between $7000-$10 000, although this amount will vary depending on certain factors.
That is a lot of money! Unfortunately, many sugar glider owners do not anticipate just how expensive it is to own sugar gliders. This article explains exactly how much you need to budget before buying a sugar glider.
How Much Do Sugar Gliders Cost?
The price of a sugar glider mainly depends on its age and color variety. Younger sugar gliders are more expensive as the demand for young sugar gliders is higher, and youngsters are easier to handle and bond with.
Whichever sugar glider you choose to adopt, please ensure that you adopt from a responsible breeder. By ‘rescuing’ a sugar glider from a backyard breeder, you are still supporting their bad practices and may end up with a sugar glider that has a poor genetic background due to unethical breeding and, as a result, may be more prone to certain health conditions.
Also, be aware of scammers. The exotic pet industry is filled with scammers who disappear after a deposit is paid. Please make sure that you purchase from reputable breeders, and ideally, you should collect your sugar glider from the breeder yourself and pay when collecting your new sugar glider.
Here is a summary of the costs of the different types of sugar gliders:
|Standard baby sugar glider |
– 12 months and younger
|Standard adult sugar glider |
– 1 year and older
|White-faced sugar glider|
– Stripes around the face
– No black line behind the ears
– Lighter eye-rings
|Leucistic sugar glider|
– Pure white fur
– No stripes on the ears
|Albino sugar glider|
– Pure white fur
– Dark eyes
– Very rare
|$5,000 (the price decreases to around $3000 if the sugar glider has pink eyes)|
|Mosaic sugar glider|
– White patches all over the body
|Red series sugar glider|
– Red, cinnamon, lion, chocolate, or buttercream color options
– The pricing of the different shades of red varies
The table above contains only the most common or popular color varieties. There are many other phenotypes not mentioned here; however, most color varieties will fall within the cost ranges described above.
How Many Sugar Gliders Should I Get?
It is important to note that sugar gliders are social animals and it is, therefore, advised to get at least two, so they may keep each other company.
It is not advised to keep a sugar glider on its own as they are highly reliant on social interaction and engagement to thrive in its environment. Although gliders can form strong bonds with humans, they need to be with their own kind. Gliders can become depressed if kept on their own for a long time.
Pet Vet Tip: For more information on sugar glider social structure and how they function in groups or alone, have a look at this article on our website.
Let us take a look at the breakdown of some other important initial expenses of owning a sugar glider:
When considering a cage for your sugar glider, larger is always better, favoring height. However, the minimum recommended dimensions for a suitable cage for sugar gliders are 24 inches x 24 inches x 36 inches (width, breadth, length). Horizontal wiring is preferable over vertical cage wires to allow your sugar gliders to be able to climb up the sides of the cage.
As with anything, there are very basic options that are more affordable but are just as suited for housing your glider, and other cages that are a lot fancier and pricier.
An excellent example of a cage is the Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation. Some of the shelves and ramps can be removed to create more vertical space for jumping.
The Nest or Bonding Pouch
Your sugar glider will also need a cozy and warm place to sleep and so a fleece-lined sleep pouch or box is necessary. If you have multiple sugar gliders, the Triple Bunk Hammock is a good option; alternatively, a bonding pouch that you can carry on your body or attach to the side of the cage will also work well.
Along with the cage is the substrate used to line the bottom – wood shavings, paper, etc., to catch the droppings from the sugar gliders as well as food and water spillage. Although you may be inclined to use normal newspapers to cut costs, this is not advisable as the ink can be toxic and irritant.
Food And Water Bowls Or Dispensers
Heavy flat-bottom dishes that can not be tipped over easily work best for food. Sugar gliders like to eat at a height, so bowl or containers that can be placed on a higher shelf in the cage or attached to the side of the cage is ideal. This feeding platform that can be attached to the side of the cage is a good option if your enclosure does not have enough space on shelves or platforms.
Keep in mind that sugar gliders are super messy eaters! So it would help if you ideally placed the food bowl near the side of the cage where the floor outside the cage can be cleaned easily.
For water, A no-drip water bottle that attaches to the side of the cage works best for sugar gliders.
Your sugar glider will need toys to play with for enrichment, but the basics are usually good enough. Toys can be sold in sets consisting of various pieces such as ropes, tunnels, wheels, pom-pom balls, swings, and so much more – the options are endless!
The Wodent Wheel Senior or climbing toys such as this climbing vine or these climbing ropes and foraging toys such as this foraging pineapple will help keep your sugar gliders active and mentally stimulated.
Here is a breakdown of what it will cost to keep your sugar glider safe, comfortable, and entertained:
– Single (24 x 24 x 36 in)
– Double wide
|Cage lining and bedding||$5-$20|
|Sleep pouch/box |
– Nest pouch
– Tree trunk pouch
– Cozy cube
|Food and water bowls/dispensers|
– No drip water bottle and feeding bowl
|Toys (cage enrichment set)||$20-$50|
Initial Veterinary Cost
Although sugar gliders are not known to carry disease and, therefore, do not require vaccination, it is important to take your new sugar glider for a check-up in order to pick up on any possible health concerns and to administer deworming.
If you plan to keep a male and female, it is recommended to have your male sugar glider neutered. Having your female sugar glider spayed is an invasive procedure, so it is better to have only the male neutered instead.
Here is a breakdown of the veterinary costs:
Now that the start-up costs of owning sugar gliders have been summarized let us take a closer look at some of the recurring expenses, such as food, supplements, pet insurance, and annual veterinary costs.
Food And Supplements
A sugar glider diet should consist of 1/3 of balanced kibble, 1/3 nectar or sap-based mix, and 1/3 of a small number of insects and calcium supplements. You may also give your sugar glider some fresh fruit and vegetables, but this should be in moderation as this will be eaten preferentially over the more wholesome kibble.
As with any other pet, you may also give your sugar gliders treats now and then.
Always supply cool water in the water bottle and a small side dish of water (until your sugar gliders know how to use the bottle).
Pet Vet Tip: For more information on sugar glider nutritional needs as well as an example feeding plan, check out this handy resource on our website.
Here is a summary of the cost of keeping your sugar glider well-fed on a delicious and nutritious diet:
|Insectivore diet kibble (2 lb)||$15-$20|
|Acacia gum (4 oz)||$10-$15|
|Nectar (4 oz)||$5|
|Calcium supplement (3.5 oz)||$10|
|Treats (yogurt drops, eucalyptus sticks, variety packs, etc.)||$5-$15|
Remember to consult with your veterinarian for more detailed instructions on how to feed your sugar glider appropriately for its age or size.
Veterinary Costs And Emergencies
A regular check-up by a sugar glider savvy veterinarian can help spot early signs of disease that may otherwise have been missed. Sugar gliders are very good at hiding signs of disease until it is almost too late.
Sugar gliders do not particularly require vaccinations, and because they are indoor pets, the prevalence of internal or external is minimal, but it is a good idea to administer a dewormer at least once a year.
In addition to the required check-up, unfortunately, accidents do happen, and disease or illness may arise unexpectedly. The health of your sugar glider should always be prioritized, and you will need to see a veterinarian immediately. These emergencies can be very expensive.
Some sugar glider owners might opt for pet insurance to cover the bills for check-up or emergencies, while other owners might simply open separate savings account for their sugar glider.
Pet insurance for exotic pets can be a bit expensive, especially when you have a pair. You are looking at spending around $10 per month per sugar glider on your average insurance package. This equates to about $240 per year.
If you do not wish to get pet insurance, you may opt to set aside at least about $250-$350 in savings for unexpected emergencies. You may opt for insurance later on in the sugar glider’s life when old age starts to catch up, necessitating the need for more frequent trips to the vet.
Here is a breakdown of the costs you might incur to keep your sugar glider healthy:
|Annual wellness check-up||$45-$50|
|Annual parasite treatment (deworm, flea, etc.)||$15|
|Pet insurance||$10 per month per sugar glider|
Sugar gliders are unique, exotic pets that require very unique care and housing. They make great family pets, but it is important to note that they are rather expensive to take care of – both the initial costs and the running costs of ownership.
Remember that because sugar gliders are social animals, it is recommended to get a pair. This doubles the cost of owning sugar gliders, and to add, sugar gliders have a relatively long lifespan of 12-15 years.
Before getting a sugar glider, you should do extensive research into the needs of the sugar glider and whether your lifestyle is compatible with owning a sugar glider, as well as the financial resources these critters require.
Owning exotic pets can be incredibly expensive but just as rewarding, and many would say that sugar gliders are worth every penny spent!
If you are looking to get sugar gliders, you might find the following articles helpful:
- Will Sugar Gliders Get Along With Cats, Dogs, And Other Small Pets?
- How Many Sugar Gliders Should I Get? Social Structure and Husbandry Tips For Sugar Glider Owners
- How Can I Tell If My Sugar Glider Is Happy?
- 9 Reasons Why Sugar Gliders Do Not Make Good Pets For Kids
- How To Calm A Stressed Sugar Glider: Signs, Causes, And Helpful Tips
- Banks RE, Sharp JM, Doss SD, Vanderford DA. Exotic Small Mammal Care and Husbandry. Durham, NC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
- Meredith, A. and Redrobe, S., 2002. BSAVA manual of exotic pets. 4th ed. Quedgeley: British Small Animal Veterinary Association, pp. 102 – 106 25.
- Schuppli, C. A., Fraser, D., & Bacon, H. J. (2014). Welfare of non-traditional pets. Rev Sci Tech, 33(1), 221-231 https://www.wellbeingintlstudiesrepository.org/wileapet/2/
- Tynes, V., n.d. Behavior of Exotic Pets. Wiley-Blackwell, pp.181-189.