Gliders as Singles: What Do the Experts Say?

Hi Guardians! 

You have heard us say it so many times before: sugar gliders are colony animals and need at least one friend of their own species. Sugar gliders who are kept as singles generally do not thrive. They often become depressed, and like humans, it is only when their depression becomes severe that we start tosee physical signs of depression, such as weight loss, refusal to eat, self mutilation, and eventually death. Human companionship, while good and important, is not a substitute for the companionship and bond that a glider will have with another glider. Just as humans need other humans, and only interacting with sugar gliders will not be socially and emotionally fulfilling to any person, sugar gliders need interaction and companionship with other sugar gliders. 

 

But, if you don’t want to take our word for it, we have compiled a few opinions and quotes from scientists, veterinarians, and other respected experts:

 

 

 

"One of the main things to remember about our pet population is that the sugar glider is an extremely social animal and should not be kept as a solitary animal."

Cathy A Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Practical Marsupial Medicine

"As they are extremely social animals that get depressed when housed alone, sugar gliders should never be kept singly as pets but rather should be housed in pairs. Males and females may be kept together, as long as the male is neutered after 5-6 months of age — a relatively simple procedure that is commonly performed by glider-savvy veterinarians."

PetMD.com

"Sugar gliders should not be kept alone. Social interaction is very important for sugar gliders’ mental health and they should not be kept alone! Lone sugar gliders are particularly prone to depression and self-mutilation. In the wild they live in groups of 7-12. In captivity at least 2 sugar gliders should be kept together."

Amanda Zellar, DVM

"Sugar Gliders are social creatures normally living in small family groups. In captivity, they do best when kept with a companion. At the very least, they should be given at least one or two hours of attention each day. Isolation is extremely stressful for social animals."

Lorraine A. Corriveau, DVM, Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Wellness Clinician, Sugar Gliders

"These highly social creatures live in trees, rarely touching the ground, and they groom each other - which not only keeps their fur clean, but also helps solidify relationships."

San Diego Zoo

"Whereas aggression may be part of normal social behavior particularly with territory marking and reproductive activity, self-mutilation is a problem of captivity. The practitioner needs to develop a history-gathering and trouble- shooting system similar to that used with feather-picking birds. Self-mutiliation is usually seen in solitary sugar gliders. Sugar gliders have been used in laboratory animal medicine as models of serotonin-deficiency depression. To clinically depress a sugar glider, the researchers found one only has to house them as single animals. Many of our pet gliders are solitary. And unfortunately, because they were removed from glider families prior to puberty, they do not know how to properly integrate into glider society. Gliders should not be housed as solitary animals."

Cathy A Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Practical Marsupial Medicine

Recommendations and Resources

If you need help finding a sugar glider as a companion for yours, check out our rehoming page or our adoptions page. If you need help introducing sugar gliders to each other, check out our glider behavior page. And if you need help finding a veterinarian to neuter your males so that they can be introduced to each other with minimal risk of fighting, or introduced to females without the risk of breeding, please check out our vet map

 

For more on this topic, Sugar Glider Diaries and CatAleah have both made wonderful videos on this topic! And as always, if you need help, feel free to contact us.

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