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Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

History of Managed Care


  • Lesser gliders kept as pets as early as the 1830s (Jackson 2003)
  • Sugar gliders held in zoos since 1865 (Jackson 2003)
  • Early naturalists occasionally raised orphaned sugar gliders (e.g., Irby 1931)

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

  • Kept by San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance since at least the 1980s (ZIMS 2019)


Shelters and enclosures

  • Requirements
    • Trees for climbing and gliding (Collins 1973; Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
    • Nests, nest boxes, or hanging baskets (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
    • May require artificial heat in some regions (Jackson 2003; Johnson 2011)
      • Ideal ambient temperature range: 24 to 27°C (75 to 80°F)
  • May be kept in nocturnal houses (Jackson 2003)
    • Reverse day/night cycles can be used (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)

Social interactions

  • Should be housed in groups (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
    • Established groups may be aggressive towards new individuals (Collins 1973)
  • Males may form hierarchies in managed care (Nowak 2018a)
  • Can be housed in large enclosures with other Petaurus species (Collins 1973)

Diet in managed care

  • Diet should follow that of sugar gliders in the wild (McKay 1989; Jackson 2003; Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
  • Food items
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables (Dierenfeld 2009)
    • Live prey (e.g., moths, beetles, crickets) (Dierenfeld 2009)
    • Examples of supplemental foods
      • Pollen and flowers (McKay 1989; Dierenfeld and Whitehouse-Tedd 2018)
      • Leaves (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
      • Nectar mix (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)
      • Sunflower seeds (Johnson and Hemsley 2008)


  • Easy to breed in managed care (Smith 1971; Jackson 2003; Zuckerman 2009)

Enrichment and training

(Alyssa Warren, personal communication, 2019)

  • Ropes for climbing
  • Browse for foraging
  • Elevated platforms for gliding
  • Handling by keepers
  • Enrichment items:
    • Hay
    • Dirt
    • Cardboard boxes and tubes
    • Fleece objects and bags
    • Mirrors

Sugar Glider

Sugar glider on fence post

In managed care, sugar gliders need trees for climbing and space for gliding.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

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