If you ask people to think of an example of a marsupial, they often name it a kangaroo or an opossum. They usually don’t start thinking about a pet to care for. However, there is one marsupial that might make a great companion for you, and that is a Sugar Glider! But just how big do they get? Let’s explore.
How big do Sugar Gliders Get? Sugar Gliders are small marsupials that usually weigh between 4 -6 ounces fully grown. If you measure an adult Sugar Glider from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, it will be about 12 inches long. Half of a Sugar Glider’s length comes from its tail that can be between 6-8 inches in length.
They’re certainly a lot smaller than their kangaroo cousins!
But to understand how their size affects their needed care, we need to look closely at these mysterious gliding creatures.
How Big Is A Full Grown Sugar Glider?
A full-grown Sugar Glider is around 12 inches long and weighs in at only 4-6 ounces. Even when at full size, a Sugar Glider is considered a noticeably small animal. Many people love that they can easily cup a Sugar Glider in the palms of their hands.
Sugar Gliders have a very important tail that is long and covered in soft fur. This tail accounts for just over half of a Sugar Glider’s total length and can grow to be up to 8 inches long.
The tail is semi-prehensile, which means it can be used to grip and hold light objects such as materials needed for building a wild nest.
The body of the Sugar Glider will range from 4 to 6 inches in length from the tip of the nose to the start of the tail. Because of their small body size, Sugar Gliders are not heavy animals.
When a Sugar Glider is fully grown, it will typically weigh between 4 – 6 ounces with a body form that is very similar to a squirrel or chipmunk.
When you add body and tail together, you get an adorable furry creature that is around 12 inches long.
A male Sugar Glider will have a similar body length as a female but tends to weigh slightly (30-40 grams) more than a female.
At the same time, a male Sugar Glider does not have a pouch as it has no need to nurse young.
A female Sugar Glider will have a pouch slip on its belly that is usually about .5 inches wide.
This pouch is where a female Sugar Glider will nurse and raise her young during the first 8 weeks of life and is a defining feature of marsupials.
Sugar Gliders have a skin-like material. This connects their front legs to their back legs along their sides called a gliding membrane.
This is the part of the body that is reflected in their name and allows them to jump, spread their legs, and use the gliding membrane to coast through the air from tree to tree in a gliding motion.
Even with its important function, the gliding membrane adds very little total weight to the Sugar Glider.
What Age Are Sugar Gliders Full Grown?
Sugar Gliders are typically fully grown at 8-12 months of age and are considered fully mature by one year of age. You may notice that your Sugar Glider fills out and adds on a small amount of weight after 1 year of age, but it should be minimal in comparison to the rest of their growth period.
As Sugar Gliders are marsupials, they are extremely small when born- typically only the size of a single grain of rice- and must continue developing within the safety of their mother’s pouch.
Once born, the baby Sugar Glider, known as a Joey, climbs its way through the mother’s fur to its pouch, where it will nurse and grow for around 7 weeks.
During this time, the only thing the Sugar Glider will do is nurse from its mother and focus on getting big enough to survive outside of the pouch.
Toward the end of the first seven weeks of life, a Joey will be visible within the pouch to observant caretakers.
After 7 to 9 weeks living in its mother’s pouch, the Sugar Glider Joey will weigh between 10 and 18 grams and be ready to begin its transition to an independent life outside the pouch.
It will need to remain with its mother for another 7 to 8 weeks as it learns to live outside of the safety of its mother’s pouch and weans from her milk.
The first 8 weeks out of the pouch are a time of rapid growth for the Sugar Glider.
When the Sugar Glider is ready to leave its mother and come home with you, it will have grown from weighing less than a gram at birth to around 2.5 ounces of total weight.
After you bring home your Sugar Glider and give him the proper care, it will grow to weigh 4-6 ounces by its first birthday.
How Much Space Do Sugar Gliders Need?
Sugar Gliders need a lot of vertical space and will need housing that has a floor space of at least 24 x 24 inches, with 36 inches of vertical space to be happy and healthy.
In the wild, Sugar Gliders spend almost their entire life high up in the trees of the forested areas they inhabit.
This means that they don’t need a ton of horizontal floor space to be happy.
What they do need is an enclosure that is large enough for them to climb and leap from place to place while feeling high up off the ground.
Sugar Gliders are often called “pocket pets” because of their small size.
When they are not in their cage, Sugar Gliders like to be up-high but close to their owners.
Some would say you could even slip them into your shirt pocket with ease.
Because they do not need large fenced backyards like dogs or pastures like horses, Sugar Gliders can be great pets for people living in apartments or other small spaces where there is not a lot of land for animals to run free.
What Type Of Cage Is Best For Sugar Gliders?
The best type of cage for a Sugar Glider is metal with narrow spacing between the bars and at a minimum 36 inches, or three feet, of vertical living space. Metal cages are durable and easy to clean. They are not easily broken into by other pets and give you great value for your money.
It is important to keep in mind a Sugar Glider’s tiny size when selecting and preparing their home cage.
If a metal cage has wire bars that are spaced too far apart, your Sugar Glider could accidentally end up out of its cage and on the loose.
A good rule of thumb is that the bars should be no more than ½ inch apart and run horizontally to help your Sugar Glider be able to climb easily throughout the cage.
Although Sugar Gliders are small, they are very social. In the wild, they will live in colonies that have ten or more members.
When planning to own a Sugar Glider and setting up its cage, you will want to consider the fact that Sugar Gliders are often happiest in pairs.
The good news is that the ideal cage for one Sugar Glider can easily hold and house a second companion.
They live in “close quarters” naturally, and as long as they have vertical exploration space, they will gladly share their dwelling with a cagemate.
Keeping in mind that Sugar Gliders like to live the high life in the trees, you will need to have food dishes that can be placed high on the cage with secure attachment to the cage walls to prevent spilling food or falls for your pet.
Sugar Gliders will also appreciate a place where they can nest during the day to catch some rest before their evening and night-time active period.
You can purchase special pouches designed to be hung in cages for your Sugar Glider to snuggle in.
This is what they look like on Amazon, if you did want to take a look.
Sugar Gliders are curious, and while they will spend most of the day asleep, in the evening and at night, they need a cage that will help them stay active.
Dangling toys, non-toxic wooden branches, ladders, and other climbing structures are great additions to a Sugar Glider cage.
When selecting what items you will have in your cage, make sure that each piece is non-toxic and can be securely attached to the cage walls.
A hard fall could be harmful to your small sweet friend.
Changing your Sugar Glider’s interior cage setup from time to time will keep them stimulated and happily exploring.
Sugar Gliders: A Small Marsupial and a Unique Pet
If you are looking for a small and curious pet who enjoys evening playtime and won’t need a giant backyard to exercise, a Sugar Glider could be your perfect fit.
While these animals have only been regularly domesticated as pets for around the last 15 years, there is a good reason why people have grown to love them.
They are friendly, able to thrive in most household settings, and can become quite attached to their owners.
Their small size and love of heights do mean you will need to do some planning before bringing home the perfect pet.
It is important to make sure you can find a tall cage with narrow openings of ½ inch or less to keep them safely contained.
You will also need to be able to provide food and resting places that are high within the cage to help your Sugar Glider have its happiest home.
If you love small pets that thrive on gentle handling and a close owner-animal bond, then you may want to take the next step to add a Sugar Glider to your home.
Just be aware and mindful of the costs first, however.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.