Imagine being cooped up in your living room, day after day without a TV to watch, a book to read, without music to dance to, without anything to pass the time. What the heck would you do all day?! Such are the lives of sugar gliders who do not have the proper toys and activities given to them by their humans. Just as pet birds need toys for mental stimulation, so do sugar gliders. An empty cage equals very depressed gliders with very sad little lives. :'(

So what are some of the things that can bust their boredom, spark their spirit and perk their pep? To know this, you just have to watch.

Over the years I have grown to love watching my gliders play at night. I not only find it endearing and entertaining, but it also helps me to understand them better, their routines and what makes each individual glider tick. My personal gliders I've noticed, make between 3am and 7am their party time. They'll tinker and nap for a few hours before but once the middle of the night comes...It's super play time! <---A benefit of my insomnia. :)

I have one that has always been a tail carrier, one who plays by chewing and destroying things, one who has never been a big player, and one who plays until the cows come home. I have also recently discovered that Bindi, my special baby, has learned to tail carry after eight years (so exciting!) and has discovered that she can carry just about anything. If she can't carry it back to her pouch by tail, she'll carry it by mouth. Since it's a new thing for her, she's on carry overdrive right now. I even take her carried stash (she stashes in her sleeping pouch) and re-hang it a few times throughout the night just because she's getting so fast at it.

Most of us are night people right? (Hence...we have sugar gliders.) Well take some time to sit quietly and watch. Let them forget that you are there (this is key) and go about their business. If you sit hush-hush long enough, they'll stop paying attention to the humans in the room and start living the night life. Do it often, as their habits change over time.

 

All sugar gliders are different but with my personal gliders and some years of watching, here are some tips and tricks that I have learned and can give:

 

- Have a large enough cage.  Just like humans, sugar gliders are active creatures and require lots of space for moving. Get the biggest cage you can afford. We wouldn't want to spend our entire lives in a room the size of a small bathroom and neither would a sugar glider want to live in a tiny cage. In the wild they live and glide far distances in treetops so they need a good amount of vertical space as well as horizontal. We use the HQ Sturdy Tall cages ziptied together for maximum space. Double Critter Nations are great as well.

- Try to have enough safely made toys in the cage to keep them moving. A toddler doesn't stay on the same toy for very long and neither do sugar gliders. Both have very short attention spans, both ditch one thing to do another and they always come back again. They're rotators.

- Try to always keep a toy at mid-level, the center of the cage. Using a foraging toy will entice them to climb, especially if there's food in there!

- Be strategic on toy placement. Not all gliders love to climb down from the top of the cage onto a toy. Keep one or two close to the bars. Hang small toys directly above a hammock. Some just like to sit and play.

- Reset toys are great because they give gliders something to work at. Set the parts on the toys, gliders work to get them off, reset them again so their fun starts over.

- I can't say enough about toy bins. Besides their wheels, toy bins are the hub of fun at our house. Not your typical ball pit either. Balls can only be entertaining for so long. Mine use one toy bin at mid-level and one on the cage floor. By the way, heavy plastic veggie trays work great as a floor toy bin. Fill them with diverse plastic chew things. (See photos below for ideas) Small things that they can pick up and feel, textured things, plastic chewies, noise makers...If there are enough chew things in the bins, gliders will be less inclined to chew things you don't want them to.

- Why not give them some natural climbing surfaces relative to what they'd have in the wild? I love using cork bark, grapevine and manzanita perches. They love to use them. If you are sensative to smells, branches work great. They don't hold as much smell as fleece hammocks.

- Speaking of fleece, have enough safely sewn (fleece, flannel, or cotton) corner hammocks and bridges around the cage to give them a place to hang. Someone once told me that their gliders only use a portion of their cage. Gliders aren't going to hang out in voided spaces. Mine are all over the cage. No space is left unused because I try to make every space useable.

- On the flip side, don't crowd the cage. Human hoarders don't move around easily. Don't force your gliders to live the hoarding life. If it's not useful don't use it...make room for something that is. None of my gliders use fleece vines so I replace them with harder surfaced climbing things, which they prefer.

- Safe wheels. I recommend the Stealth Wheel and the Custom Cruiser.

-Gliders love plastic playhouses that you can find in the children section of stores. (See example pic below) Just be safe and choose one that doesn't have moveable parts and exposed metal. Hide treats and small chew toys/plastic bracelets inside!

- Treat cups. Everywhere!! Ok, maybe not everywhere but a good amount spaced evenly throughout the cage. On toys, hung safely on branches, C clipped to the cage bars...it's fun for them to hunt for treats. Not just treats either. Feeding green beans, bell peppers and blueberries tonight? Why not separate their non-messy veggies from the staple on the floor and use the hanging treat cups instead? They love it!

- Crinkle up printing paper to get it nice and roughed up. Stuff treats/veggies/mealworms into it and ball it up. Makes for a fun and practically free forager you can throw right onto the cage floor. Drives them crazy! (in a good way)

- Plastic milk and juice rings are great and nearly free! CUT them off of the bottles and hang them in various places. If you have tail carriers, they carry them. If not, they'll handle and chew them. Cutting them off of the bottles is very important though. Never leave a ring whole. They often try to 'wear' them by sticking their heads through and wriggling them down to their waists. With a cut milk ring, nary a ring will get stuck. I always have a replenishing drawer full here for a constant supply. My household knows...if you chuck a milk ring in the recycle bin, you'll feel my wrath!

- Cut some straws up and throw them in toy bins for chewing. Thread some through wiffle balls, they'll pull them out! For a rare and special treat, partially fill with yogurt and freeze!

- Wedge a few yogurt drops or pine nuts into the holes of wiffle balls (not letting them fall through the holes) and hang with C Clips. This is a rare treat and should be used infrequently.

- Swap things out for new. If you don't have time for a full cage cleaning that week, simply rearrange a few things, replace a couple of toys. Takes a second and sparks visual interest again.

 

Gliders slow down with time. Babies play hard. Adults take it easier. Never deprive your gliders as they age. Elder gliders may not use their toys and playthings as much but just as us humans like to look at art and scenery, gliders will still benefit from the visual stimulation of a well thought out home.

Our sugar gliders did not ask to live in a cage...but as their humans and caretakers, it's our responsibility in being diligent and keeping it a fun place to live. Happy cage = happy sugar gliders!!

 

Our cage that houses four gliders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Li'l Woodzeez Treehouse

Can be found at Target, Walmart, Amazon..etc

 

Heavy plastic veggie/dip tray used for a floor toy bin

 

Various plastic doodads used as play/chew toys for toy bins

 

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