Sugar Gliders: Tiny Acrobats
In the last decade or so, the popularity of sugar gliders as pets has grown considerably. The small size of these furry acrobats, their personalities, their plush fur, their large eyes, their agility and their ability to bond closely with humans have attracted legions of new sugar glider devotees.
What is a sugar glider and where did they originally come from? Sugar gliders are small marsupials and members of the possum family. They are found in Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Their scientific name is Petaurus breviceps. Most sugar gliders these days are captive-bred and not wild-caught.
Like their larger marsupial cousins, kangaroos, sugar gliders have a pouch where their infants grow and develop. Their young are called "joeys," as are the young of kangaroos. You may come across the term OOP while researching sugar gliders on the internet. OOP means "out-of-pouch" and it indicates how long the joey has been completely out of his mother's pouch. Joeys are ready to go to a new home at approximately 8 weeks OOP.
Sugar gliders are approximately chipmunk-sized, measuring about 9 to 12 inches long (including their long tail), and they weigh about 3 to 6 ounces as adults. Their normal color is steel gray to brownish with a black stripe down the back, but selective breeding in captivity has brought out other color variations, including albinos. In captivity, they can live as long as 15 years, although 8 to 12 years is more usual.
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