Plants Safe for Sugar Gliders - The Safe List for your Glider's Cage

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GliderSafe Plants for your Cage

Now that we are getting close to the end of our “new mom & dad” emails, we are going to focus on topics that center around the longer-term, ongoing care of your new best friends. In this email, we are going to cover which PLANTS are best to put in your baby’s cage…

As you and your baby(ies) get more and more accustomed to each other, you eventually will be tempted to try and make their new environment as “hospitable” as possible. Since a Sugar Bear’s natural habitat is the rain forest, this usually means trying to put some branches and other assorted vines and foliage in their cage to give them something to jump around on.

Well, overall this is a GREAT idea – but there are a couple considerations that go into deciding exactly how to accomplish this… Specifically, in this email we are going to cover three things, and they are:

  1. Ease of getting your babies out of their cage,
  2. Live Plants, and
  3. Artificial Plants

First, let’s start with being able to get your baby(ies) out of their cage every day to play with you. The basic rule of thumb to keep in mind here is to just make sure you can still easily reach into the cage and get your baby(ies) out to play without traumatizing them.

This is especially important in the earlier phases of bonding when they haven’t fully bonded to you yet, so we do NOT – I repeat NOT – recommend putting branches or other obstructions in their cage while they are still bonding to you. Remember, picking them up for the first time each day is usually the most stressful thing for a new baby Sugar Bear – so you want to make it VERY easy to find them under their cloth and pick them up with the cloth still wrapped around them (see first email).

Now let’s move onto the topic of REAL vs. FAKE plants…

In a nutshell, unless you have an unlimited budget, using REAL plants in a Sugar Bear cage is generally NOT a good idea. While your new baby(ies) may love them – the plants probably won’t survive long before they are shredded. Also, some plants can actually be toxic to animals.

The following is a list of plants that are considered to generally be safe for Sugar Bears – followed by a list of plants that are known to be TOXIC to them… You can always go to the website for the ASPCA and search their database of poisonous plants if you’re concerned about a plant not mentioned here.

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THESE ARE SAFE PLANTS :-)

  • Angelica (Angelica archangelica) a.k.a. Archangel
  • European Angelica
  • Garden Angelica-ROOTS ARE POISONOUS
  • American Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea)-ROOTS ARE POISONOUS Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) a.k.a Giant Blue Hyssop
  • Fragrant Giant Hyssop
  • Balm (Melissa officinalis) a.k.a. Common Balm
  • Lemon Balm
  • Melissa
  • Sweet Balm Banskia repens a native plant to Sugar Bear country
  • Banksia cunninghamii - a native plant to Sugar Bear country
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) or any basil variety including opal basil
  • lemon basil
  • anise basil
  • cinnamon basil etc.
  • Blueberry (Vaccinium)
  • Buddleia (B. davidii var or B. alternifolia)
  • aka butterfly bush Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Burnet (Sanguisorba minor and Sangvisorba officinalis)
  • a.k.a. Garden Burnet and Greater burnet or salad burnet Bush Lily (tripladenia cunninghamii)
  • also native to where Sugar Bears live Calendula (calendula officinalis) a.k.a. pot marigolds Callistemons (viminalis)
  • Capers (Capparis spinosa)
  • Carraway (Carium carvi)
  • Cardamon (Elettaria cardamomum)
  • Chamomille (Anthemis nobilis
  • Mattricaria chamomilla) a.k.a. Camomille
  • German Chamomille
  • manzanilla (Matricaria)
  • Roman chamomille (Athemis) – ONLY the FLOWERS ARE EDIBLE
  • Chrysanthemums (C. x superbum) only
  • a.k.a Shasta Daisy
  • please be sure not to confuse with C. coccineum a.k.a. Painted Daisy or Pyrethrum Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
  • a.k.a. French Parsley Chickory (Cichorium intybus and Cichorium endiva )
  • a.k.a. Coffee Weed
  • escarole
  • Belgian endive – flowers & leaves are ok Clover (Trifolium)
  • Red Clover (T. pratense)
  • Alsike Clover(T. hybridium)
  • Landino Clover (T. repens)
  • Alyce Clover (Alysicarpus) & Crimson Clover (T. incarnatum) Correas
  • Daisy (Compositae ) – all members
  • flowers are the only edible part Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) a.k.a. LionsTooth, leaves are ok too before the blossoms appear
  • Daylilies (Hermerocallis)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Honeysuckle (make sure that you are postitive that it is honeysuckle and not Carolina Jasmine)
  • Hymenosporum flavum (frangipani), another native to Sugar Bear country Eucalyptus
  • all species a.k.a. blue gum
  • gum tree
  • money plant
  • silver dollar
  • honey eucalyptus
  • The following eucalyptus species are native to the areas where Sugar Bears live in the wild:
  • e. caesia
  • e. curtisii
  • e.torrestiana
  • e. macrandra
  • e. perriniana
  • e. spathulata
  • e. viridis.
  • Fuki
  • a member of the Petasite Family (P. japonicus) Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
  • a.k.a. Common Horehound
  • White Horehound Hibiscus -over 200 species of trees herbs & shrubs of th eMallow family includes the following Abelmosk (Abelmoshus moshatus)
  • China Rose (H.Rosa-sinensis)
  • Cotton Rose (H. mutabilis)
  • Flower-of-an-Hour (H. Trionum) also H. tiliaceus and H. Sabdariffa
  • Great Rose Mallow (H. Grandiflorus)
  • Okra – improperly called Hibiscus
  • (Abelmoshus sculentus)
  • Roselle (H. Sabdariffa)
  • Rose Mallo ( H. Moscheutos)
  • Rose of Sharon (H. syriacus) flowers and leaves are ok Hyssop (Hyssop officinalis)
  • a.k.a. Garden Hyssop Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
  • a.k.a. Garden Lavender
  • True Lavender – Leaves & Flowers are OK Mallow (Malva sylvestris Malva rotundifolia) a.k.a. Cheese Plant
  • Common Mallow
  • Dwarf Mallow – Leaves & pink flowers are OK Marigold – (calendula species) not the french kind (use only the large ones) Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) Marjoram (Marjorana horensis) a.k.a. Sweet Marjoram Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) a.k.a Indian Cress – Leaves stems and flowers are ok Pansy (Viola Tricolor) Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) a.k.a Common Parsley – Flowers & leaves only. DO NOT USE THE SEEDS Potentilla (P argyrophylla
  • P. fragiformis
  • P. fructicosa
  • P. fulensw
  • P. nepalensis
  • P. nitida
  • P.recta cv. “Warrenii”) aka cinquefoil or Five finger. Roses (Rosa species) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – a.k.a. garden Rosemary – leaves & Flowers are OK Saffron (Crocus sativus) BE SURE not to confuse with Colchium autumnale a poisonous plant as both flower in the fall and look similar. Sage – (Salvia Officinale) purple or white variety of flowers not the red ones – FLOWERS ONLY!!!! Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium graveolens) a.k.a. Rose Geranium Leaves & Flowers are OK
  • Squash
  • cucumber
  • melon flowers Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
  • a.k.a. British Myrrh
  • Sweet Chervil – Leaves
  • Flowers & seeds are OK Violets (Viola odorata)
  • a.k.a. Garden violet
  • Sweet Violet – FLOWERS ONLY – DO NOT USE ROOTS OR SEEDS Wild Celery (Apium graveolens)
  • a.k.a smallage Zigzag Clover (trifolium medium).

THESE ARE TOXIC PLANTS

  • Allium (Allium cepa)
  • Allium fistulosum
  • Allium ascalonicum
  • (any member of the onion family including chives, garlic chives, garlic, shallots, and leeks)
  • Arnica (arnica montana)
  • Autum Crocus (colchium autumnale)
  • a.k.a Meadow Saffron Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna ),a.k.a. deadly nightshade or any member of the nightshade family which includes tomato, potato, jimson weed.
  • Bittersweet (solanum dulcamara)
  • Black Cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa) – Never give this to a female Sugar Bear, it contains a chemical that can trigger contractions of smooth muscles, which could cause a pregnant female to loose her baby.
  • Unsafe for any Sugar Bear. Bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis)
  • a.k.a. Indian Paint Blue flag (iris versicolor)
  • a.k.a. liver lilly and water flag Broom (cytisus scoparius)
  • a.k.a. broom tops
  • scotch broom & irish broom Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris) – sometimes mistaken for true capers Carolina Jasmine (looks like bright yellow honeysuckle) Castor Bean (ricinus communis)
  • Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) or any member of the prunus species Chrysanthamum (C. coccineum)
  • Comfrey (symphytum peregrinum)
  • Dandelion roots
  • Dieffenbachia
  • aka Dumb Cane
  • Ficus – any species
  • Foxglove (digitalis purpurea)
  • Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
  • Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
  • Jalap (ipomoea purga) or any member of the Ipomoea family – this includes Morning Glory
  • Japanese Star anise (Illicium lanceolatum) Jimson weed (datura stramonium)
  • Lilly of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) Lobelia (lobelia inflata)
  • a.k.a. Indian tobacco or wild Tobacco Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
  • a.k.a. Love Parsley or Sea Parsley Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) a.k.a. love apple Mate` (Ilex paraguariensis) a.k.a. St. Bartholomew’s tea
  • Yerba mate` May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum) a.k.a. American Mandrake Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotium or Phoradendron flavescens or Viscum flavescens)
  • Morning Glory – or any member of the Ipomoea species Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Prunus, all species

includes all seeds of the following, the fruit itself is okay:

  • cherries
  • peaches
  • plums nectarines
  • branches and other parts of plant. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Peony (Paceonia offcinalis)
  • Poison Hemlock (conium maculatum) a.k.a. fools parsley Peyote
  • Philodendron and all members of the Arum family Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Sassafrss (Sassafras albidum)
  • avoid bark and roots Senna (cassia senna)
  • Shave grass (Equisetum hyemale)
  • Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • a.k.a Garden Sorrel Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) a.k.a. Calamus or Flag Root Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) a.k.a. Waldmeister Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare or Chrysanthemum vulgare) Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) a.k.a. French Tarragon
  • Estragon Tomato leaves, flowers, stems & roots ( fruits are ok)
  • Tonka Bean (dipteryx odorata)
  • Virginia Shakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria) a.k.a. Snakeweed Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) a.k.a. Burning Bush Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) a.k.a Cress
  • Scurvy Grass Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)
  • White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) a.k.a. Snakeroot Wild Senna (Cassia marilandica)Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) a.k.a Teaberry Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) a.k.a. absinthe Zigandus aka Soap Plant
  • Zygadene
  • Death Camas
  • Poison Sego


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Assuming for a moment that you are not going to be putting live plants in your Sugar Bear’s cage, let’s move on to what to look for in ARTIFICIAL plants. The bottom line is that we use fake plants in our cages all the time, and they work great. That being said, there are only a couple things to watch out for…

First, the cheaper they are, the less time they last. Sugar Bears LOVE a leafy, viney, branchy type of environment, but when selecting the right fake plants/vines, just make sure that:


  1. they don’t have any small plastic parts (like tiny leaves or fake berries) that can easily come off… Simple is better. – and
  2. The plants don’t have any small metal wires holding them together – or running just under the surface of the plastic. If these become bare and stick out (and they WILL) it can cause a serious health hazard to your baby(ies).

Also, before putting ANYTHING in their cage (i.e. plants, toys, etc..) ALWAYS give it a THOROUGH washing! This is very important, since you never know where they’ve been before you bought them. From there on, once they are in the cage you will want to give them a good soaking (we use Dawn dish soap) every couple weeks – (and a thorough spritz of Squeak-E-Clean Sterilization Spray every 90 days) – just to keep them safe and sanitary.



Well, that’s about it for today! The topic of plants is really pretty simple, and remember – Sugar Bears’ LOVE diversity – so don’t be afraid to “change up” their plants every few weeks to give them some VARIETY :-)

Ask the Vet