Sugar Gliders are cute little creatures. You may struggle to imagine them being a cause of anything negative, such as an odor in your home. But do they smell naturally or typically cause a stench in their owners’ homes? Let’s find out!
So, do Sugar gliders smell? Sugar gliders do have their own unique natural smell, but owners often report that this is not unpleasant. Infant sugar gliders may smell of urine and feces while their digestive systems are still developing, but regular cleaning and litter training can keep foul smells at bay.
While sugar gliders naturally produce their own scent, other causes of smell can range from mild to pungent.
That has a lot to do with your care, and how regularly you clean their habitat.
It’s ultimately your responsibility. Just would be the case with any other pet.
With this in mind, let us now take a look at the main causes of smells when keeping sugar gliders and some of the practical things that you can do to reduce or greatly eliminate them from occurring or dominating your home.
A Sugar Gliders Natural Smell
Sugar gliders do carry their own natural smell. It is not considered ‘smelly’, as you would expect in other animals such as ferrets. Their natural smell does not smell foul or off-putting, instead, it is more of a musk.
This musk will be present regardless of whether they are bathed, or even if the sugar glider cleans themselves regularly.
As you can imagine, they are animals and this smell is produced and will always exist to some extent.
Most owners report that this smell is not a problem and that you will soon get used to it to the point of not recognizing it.
It is important to note that the smell of a sugar glider may change in time or due to specific factors.
The most notable are age, health, diet, and the environment.
As you can imagine, you are in control of at least two of these factors (diet, environment), meaning as an owner you can influence and eliminate some element of odor.
Causes of A Sugar Gliders Natural Smell
Sugar Gliders are of course living animals that will naturally smell. If you get close enough, you will detect their particular smell. But why is this?
There are a few reasons why a sugar glider produces its own scent.
First and foremost, it is a by-product of their biology and physical makeup.
Sugar gliders have scent glands in their skin, which emit the smell specifically to communicate within their environment.
The scent is used by wild sugar gliders as a way to communicate with other sugar gliders – it’s a natural phenomenon found in many wild animals.
Scent glands in sugar gliders are known to develop as they age, and are even more prominent in males.
They reside on the top of their heads, and under the necks.
It is the scent glands that give them their natural musk, but this is not overtly smelly or troublesome.
One other final smell to consider that a glider will themselves produce, is when they feel threatened.
During such times, they will emit a strong foul smell as a defense mechanism.
However, over time and as you bond with your pet, this smell will not be released as they become more confident in you and their surroundings.
Managing this smell is all about gaining their trust.
To bond with your sugar glider, many owners carry them in a pouch or a pocket.
This bonding phase can get a little messy at the beginning, but it is important to do nonetheless.
Yet, there are certain major causes of smells that go beyond what they should produce naturally. We will look at these in the following section.
Causes Of Bad Smells With Sugar Gliders
There are many reasons why a sugar glider may not smell so well, although generally speaking, gliders are very clean animals that groom themselves and rarely need bathing.
Let’s look at common reasons why sugar gliders begin to smell beyond their own musk and what they should:
Fed An Incorrect Diet
There are numerous complicated meal plans available all over the internet, that may not be suitable for your sugar glider.
These poor diets can cause your glider to develop a prominent and robust musky smell like that of a ferret.
This smell can be hard to eradicate once it starts and is not how a glider should smell.
Not Litter Trained
The bathroom habits of sugar gliders run like clockwork, making potty training easier.
Once you learn the sleep schedule of your little marsupial litter placement is possible. As soon as gliders awake, nature calls.
They never eliminate where they sleep.
If a glider is not trained, they can poop and urinate all of their cages.
The result is that smells and odors and not contained, and they are thus harder to clean up and eradicate.
Spot cleans will not be able to remove all of the waste meaning that it stays in the cage longer; festering and decaying over the course of the time it takes for you to run your next deep clean.
Instead, litter training means that you can remove their waste on a daily, every other day schedule – quickly, easily and effectively.
Male Sugar Gliders Claim Their Territory
Male gliders have scent glands that they rub over every surface, this includes their cage, all items within it, and any items in your home they pass over e.g. furniture.
Scent markings are the way males claim their territory. It is natural and not something that you can control.
How Do I Stop My Sugar Glider From Smelling?
The number one cause of bad smells from a sugar glider is feeding them an incorrect diet and not cleaning their cage regularly enough.
You must mimic what they eat in the wild and be on time with their sleeping and feeding schedules.
In their natural environment, sugar gliders are seasonal omnivores.
During the summer, these marsupials, dine on insects and spiders.
In the winter, live food is scarce, so their food source comes from plants like fruit tree nectar, eucalyptus sap, manna, acacia gum, and honeydew bark, we will discuss their diet in captivity in more detail.
Let’s look at how to stop a sugar glider from smelling:
Pet sugar gliders require a diet consisting of 25% protein (commercially available pellet diets for insect eaters, cooked eggs, small amounts of cooked meat, and small amounts of gut-loaded bugs).
With 25% green leafy vegetables and small amounts of fruit that include mangos, grapes, apples, papayas, and berries.
Gliders require about 50% of commercial pelleted food that serves as a source of nectar.
Gliders naturally graze throughout the day as opposed to feeding on a schedule. Food must be available at all times unless your pet is overweight.
Regardless of their diet, the diet of sugar gliders requires supplements with vitamin and mineral powder with calcium.
A powdered supplement (like this excellent brand on Amazon) must be sprinkled on their food daily. You must discuss your pet’s diet with a vet who is familiar with sugar glider care and nutrition.
There are certain foods that you should not feed to your sugar glider; these include wild insects, like spiders, worms, and any other insects that might be contaminated with pesticides.
Other foods that you should avoid are fruit pits, apple seeds, deep-fried or processed foods, foods high in fat or sugar, and artificially sweetened foods.
Grapes are also the subject of much controversy. Whether you feed these is something to consider.
Litter Training Your Sugar Glider
As previously mentioned sugar gliders are predictable in their bathroom habits; they wake up from sleeping needing to defecate or urinate.
Getting a litter box (like this) and placing it in a fixed position in your sugar gliders cage is the first thing that you should do.
From there, you need to proactively encourage your sugar glider to use it, and consistently.
Unscented baby wipes are a must when training your glider to use the litter box.
You can use a baby wipe to stimulate bowel movement and urination.
Gently rub your glider’s bottom and genitals with the baby wipe, once he eliminates switch your glider over to your other hand, this exercise stimulates his digestive tract, ensuring all urine and feces are released.
Continue this process as many times as is needed without stopping in the middle.
Clean Your Sugar Gliders Habitat
Putting special liners on the bottom of your pet’s cage makes cleaning after your glider that bit easier, as the floor tends to accumulate dirt and debris.
Make sure that you change these liners every day to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria.
Clean their food and water bowls daily using solutions that are safe for pets.
Perform a deep clean of your glider’s habitat at least once every two weeks; this will remove all debris from old food and scent marking smells – keeping their habitat clean and odor-free also helps to keep body odors at bay.
Sugar gliders, when fed a correct diet, will produce virtually no foul-smelling odors.
People indeed have different sensitivities to smells.
Most individuals regard sugar gliders as odorless (especially owners who have had them for some time), while some pick up a distinctive odor – this is the musk (and is usually notable when owners first get their glider)
If you happen to detect a scent from your pet, chances are you have a keen olfactory nerve.
Thankfully, most people get used to their fragrance, and it becomes less of a distraction.
So back to our original question, as to whether sugar gliders ‘smell’. All living creatures have a particular scent; anything that exists has a smell; this includes inanimate objects such as furniture.
With that said, sugar gliders are not known to smell bad, because, like cats, they keep themselves clean.
Sugar gliders can emit foul smells when they are young as they can’t hold in their urine and feces, sometimes these creatures emit a foul odor when they are afraid.
Once your glider bonds with you, and is fed the right foods, many of these foul odors should go altogether.
You must clean their cage frequently as dirt and debris can create an unpleasant atmosphere and horrid smells.
Training your glider to use the litter box should be easy as long as you familiarize yourself with their sleep schedule as they go once they wake up.
Sugar gliders will clean themselves very well naturally. It is not recommended to give your sugar glider a bath. Bathing with water, soap, and products such as shampoo/conditioner can dry out the fur and skin. The process can be particularly worrying to your glider too. If you do decide to bathe your glider, you should do so very infrequently and only in specific circumstances e.g. if they were to get dirty or have feces caked onto their fur. You should also use a safe, chemical-free animal-friendly shampoo product like this.
Sugar gliders will not instinctively use a litter box but you can train them to do so. Training a sugar glider to use their litter box can ensure that their cage is a more hygienic, less foul-smelling environment with fewer bacteria and germs.
You should look to provide regular spot cleans of your sugar glider’s cage every couple of days. A more thorough deep clean, with the use of a pet-friendly detergent that is thoroughly washed away before returning your glider to the cage, should be done every 2-weeks to a month.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.