Mature adult Sugar Gliders have a healthy sexual appetite and usually easily breed in captivity. Most are devoted mated pairs, with a few that prefer making the rounds here and there. They make loving caring parents to their healthy young (joeys). It is important as a pet owner that you monitor the care of your breeding pair continually and be responsible for their breeding habits. A healthy regular nutritional diet and a safe clean environment are the critical factors in encouraging them to start a family. Sugar Gliders are sexually mature between twelve and eighteen months of age, with the females maturing slightly earlier. You can easily determine the sex of your adult gliders with simple observation.
Females display a small slit-like opening on their abdomen. This is the opening of their pouch. Males have a small fur covered scrotum in the same area . Most pairs are housed together on a permanent basis as life mates unless in a particular breeding program. Usually between fourteen to sixteen days after mating with a successful fertilization, the female will produce an underdeveloped joey. At that time, the joey will make its way up the mother’s body into the pouch and attach to a nipple in similar fashion to a kangaroo or other marsupials. They remain attached to the nipple inside the pouch for up to seven weeks as they complete their development. Sadly, if they are detached during this critical time, it is extremely doubtful that they will be able to reattach and will be rejected by the mother. For this reason, it is strongly recommended not to disturb the pair during the first stages of pouch development. It is important that food be increased in the cage when babies are suspected, especially calcium supplements.
The female will gradually become larger in the pouch area swelling with the side of the joey(s) usually about the side of a walnut. Most births are in pairs, but it is also regular to see only one joey. Triplets are rare, but not unheard of. The slit will gradually open and you can see the young joey from time to time. You will notice that the female does not slow down during the pouch cycle and you may still continue to handle her regularly. However, take extra care to be gentle during this period so that you do not accidentally cause dislodgment or a detachment from the nipple. At about ten weeks, the babies emerge from the pouch for very brief periods to grab a nibble of solid food. Both parents will care for the joey. In fact, the male helps equally and protects them from outside predators or interference. You may begin to handle them at 2 weeks out of the pouch for short period at a time. Sugar Gliders make excellent parents.
However, they do have natural instincts for survival of the fittest. Some first time breeding pair or immature females may eat their young. Pairs will eat their still born or deformed young in order to only have health joeys competing for the food supply. Sadly some gliders introduced to high protein diets or pinky mice will confuse their young for food. It is rare, but not unheard of. Please be responsible breeders to your pets. If they repeatedly have still born or deformed young, or if they are continually eating their young, talk to your vet and discuss having the male neutered.
Monitor your cycles and do not over breed your gliders. Normal captivity breeding should only occur twice a year. This could bring on premature death in your females. On occasions delayed implantation may occur as the fertilized egg may be held in a suspended fertilization phase awaiting the ideal time to have healthy young. This mainly occurs when habitat is changed or feeding schedules are interrupted. In the wild, this would happen during drought periods or food shortages.