Sugar Gliders Can Get Lonely, but here's how you can keep them Happy & Healthy

Tip

Will my Sugar Glider be happy without a colony?

Here's a typical question from a lot of our parents....


“I’ve been out on the internet looking at sugar glider websites, and they all say that my baby is going to DIE of loneliness if I don’t get him/her a companion… Is that true, and if so, can you send me another one ASAP?!…”
Well, having raised literally tens of thousands of these lovable little critters, here’s the answer :-)
The short answer is “NO”…and “MAYBE”… and here’s what I mean..

First, if you haven’t figured it out by now, there are literally DOZENS of ill-informed websites out there that all claim to be “experts” on raising sugar gliders. The truth is that the VAST majority of these sites are run by well-meaning people – who maybe have 5 OR 10 pairs of sugar gliders themselves – but that does NOT mean they are “experts” who are qualified to give advice to EVERYBODY else. Nowadays, any 12 year old who knows how to put up a website can look like a genius in a matter of minutes – but that doesn’t make their opinions valid in all circumstances. In other words, looks can be VERY deceiving – especially on the internet – so if you have ANY questions about something you see on the web, just shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to give you our “take” on what they are saying – based on our EXPERIENCE…

Now, having said that – let’s address what is probably one of the most common questions out there about sugar gliders – and that is whether or not it’s healthy to have just ONE…

First off, you need to understand that there are basically THREE levels we are talking about here. From worst to best, they are:

  1. Life-Threatening…
  2. Healthy…and
  3. Happy :-)

Now, like we tell ALL our customers up-front – and say in our brochure – sugar bears ARE definitely happiest when they have another little buddy to play with – and we always suggest people get more than one if they can – but it’s almost never a life-threatening issue. If it were, we would ONLY sell them in pairs, and no other way…

That being said, let’s take a quick look at the whole “Life Threatening” issue, and where all this controversy really comes from….

Again, many websites claim that sugar gliders will literally DIE of loneliness if they are kept by themselves. In some cases – RARE cases – this appears to be true; but the fact is, nobody really knows for sure why they die. What IS indisputably true is that Sugar Bears are – by nature – VERY social animals; and in the wild they always live in colonies in a communal setting where they have constant interaction with other Sugar Bears. That’s just the way mother nature made them…

Now, just like PEOPLE, some Sugar Bears are more social than others, and some have a more “sensitive personality” that deeply craves companionship – and is also more prone to depression. In those cases, what usually happens is that the single Sugar Bear gets SO depressed that it just stops eating, and actually dies of starvation. In extreme cases, depressed Sugar Bears can even resort to a behavior-disorder called “self-mutilation”, in which they will actually hurt themselves physically by chewing, etc… Again, these cases are rare – but it does occasionally happen…

So, how do you tell if your Sugar Glider is “depressed”?… Well, here are a couple things to watch for….

The first is are they eating enough?… Like we’ve said in multiple previous emails, as long as your baby is at LEAST eating a good portion of their 1/8 apple every night – and preferably starting to eat their Glide-R-Chow and Glide-R-Gravy as well – they are probably getting enough nutrients. If you have any questions on how to get them to drink out of their bottle – or get them “jump” started eating their Glide-R-Chow, just refer back to some of our previous emails…

Second, are they at least somewhat active at night – or do they just sit there doing nothing for LONG periods of time?.. Along these same lines, by now you have probably heard your little baby “bark” kind of like a puppy (“Sugar Bear “Noises” and what they mean” are the topic of a future email), and usually this sound means either that they are warning you of an intruder – or they are just trying to get your attention. In most cases, barking ALONE does not mean that a Sugar Glider is necessarily “depressed”, but just that they want your attention. Use your own judgment. In many cases, they will stop barking if you just leave a dim light (like a plug-in nightlight) on in the room, but if they CONSISTENTLY only stop barking when you pick them up and play with them, that might be a sign that they need a little more attention – or companionship…

Now, as far as “healthy” goes, unless a Sugar Glider becomes SO depressed that it won’t eat (or in very rare cases begins to self-mutilate) – being by itself (strictly speaking) is not a “health” issue. Generally, as long as your Sugar Bear is:

  1. eating and drinking well,
  2. has plenty of toys to play with, and
  3. has LOTS of human interaction with their caretaker(s)

they will usually be just fine. The thing to WATCH FOR though, is that – just like little kids – single Sugar Bears tend to become VERY dependent on their caretaker to provide ALL their needs – including their very important need for social interaction – and if something changes in your life where you suddenly can’t spend the usual amount of time with them – they WILL get extremely lonely.

For example, what often happens is that people experience some kind of an unexpected “lifestyle change” (ie new job, new relationship, an outside commitment, etc..) that suddenly makes it impossible for them to spend as much time with their little darling as they used to. In those cases, imagine it being like a little child – who is completely dependent on mom & dad for everything – suddenly being left at home alone for long stretches of time for no reason they can understand… When you look at it from that perspective, it’s easy to understand why a sensitive Sugar Bear would get depressed…

Now, let’s talk about the BEST case scenario – the one we all want to see – and that’s a HAPPY sugar bear :-)

The fact is, like we said in the beginning of this email, a happy Sugar Bear is one that is behaving normally (ie. eating, drinking, and pooping) – and has a BUNCH of social interaction! In other words, if your Sugar Bear doesn’t have a playmate of it’s own kind, then guess who gets to fill that role?….. YEP, YOU or somebody in your family :-)

With that in mind, another question we get asked a lot is if you can handle a Sugar Bear TOO much…. Well, the short, practical answer to that is “NO”. You see, they LOVE social interaction SO much, that they are happiest when they are getting love FROM – and giving love TO – somebody else… Now, in an ideal world, that would be BOTH yourself AND another Sugar Bear pal – but if getting another baby just isn’t an option – then all this means is that you and your family will have to get used to having a FUN-loving companion with you as much as possible.

For example, as most of you know, including my own personal pet “Bandit” – we have a total of ELEVEN personal Sugar Bears in our home right now. We have 4 kids, my wife and myself – and our Sugar Bears come with us almost EVERYWHERE we go… That includes the grocery store, the movie theater, restaurants, even CHURCH… literally almost everywhere. We just keep them in our shirts, pockets or pouches, and most of the time nobody even knows they’re there. They do JUST fine :-)

Now, it’s important to note that we don’t do that because we HAVE to (remember, we have 11 of them so they have plenty of pals to play with) – we do it because we genuinely LOVE these little darlings and they are part of our family. We travel on vacations with them (the topic of a future email) – and our overall life experience is enhanced because of them…

The simple truth is, since they cost almost nothing to feed and take care of, keeping 2 or more Sugar Bears is JUST as easy as keeping one – and this way, when we can’t have them with us, we don’t feel guilty because they always have each other… They’re kinda like “kids” for our kids – and they’ve taught our children VOLUMES about responsibility and what it means to put something else “before” themselves :-)

Anyway, I don’t want this email to get too long, but suffice to say that our primary concern is always that the Sugar Bears we sell have a long, healthy and happy life. If being in pairs were REALLY a “Life/Death” issue, (like some websites claim) we would only sell them that way. In fact, it would be GREAT for business if people HAD to get 2 instead of 1 – but if we told people that it just wouldn’t be completely honest…

However, like we mentioned earlier, some babies CAN definitely be more susceptible to depression than others – and the overall happiness and welfare of your baby(ies) is always something you want to keep an eye out for. With that in mind, if you have a single Sugar Glider and they’re “happy” – just keep “doin’ whatever it is that you’re doin’..” On the other hand, if you are at all concerned about them, or would just like to explore the option of possibly getting another one, just shoot us a quick email and we’ll be happy to help you decide if getting a companion for your little buddy is the right move.

Well, that’s about it for now… As always, don’t hesitate to email us with any other questions or concerns you have. We’re here to HELP :-)

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