Sugar gliders are cute little marsupials who have wiggled their ways into the hearts of owners, and their homes, all over the world. This is why people want to learn as much as possible about these cuties. Still, like with most animals people bring into their homes, there’s a lot to learn about sugar gliders. While you may already know the best foods to feed your sugar glider or their habitat needs, there are several things you may still feel you need help with.
One of the most common questions people ask about sugar gliders is how many babies they have in a litter. This is important when owners have more than one sugar glider and are curious about their reproductive habits. While it’s common for female sugar gliders to have 2 babies at a time, it’s also important to know how often they give birth. Let’s take a look at the female sugar glider to understand why their litters are so small.
Sexual Maturity of Female Sugar Gliders
A female sugar glider reaches sexual maturity between 8 and 12 months of age. Wild females find themselves leaving their colonies before they reach this point. This helps them avoid issues with their matriarch. For females kept in captivity, to avoid fights and attacks, owners should remove females before they reach sexual maturity. This will keep them in better health and free of attacks from their mother.
The Reproductive Cycle
Female sugar gliders have an estrous cycle of 29 days. During this time, if they mate with a sexually mature male, they can become pregnant with a litter. As we mentioned above, litters average two babies known as joeys. Though one joey is possible, it’s most common for these animals to give birth to two babies after a gestation of 15 to 17 days. The reason they usually have two joeys per litter is because sugar gliders have two vaginas, two uteri, and two cervixes. Males possess a forked penis, which splits into two, allowing them to pass sperm to each vagina the female possesses during copulation.
Once the joeys are born, joeys crawl into and remain inside the mother’s pouch. Most joeys weigh roughly 0.007 ounces at birth. At this small size, they are more susceptible to attacks from other sugar gliders in captivity. If they are in the wild, these small joeys would make an easy meal for predators. Instead of staying visible to the world, the babies crawl inside their mother marsupial’s pouch. The babies will stay in the pouch, safe from harm, until they are 70 to 74 days old. Once they emerge from the pouch, they are ready to be weaned onto solid foods. However, they remain with their mothers until they are several months old. Larger joeys typically hitch a ride on their mother’s back.
How Often Do Sugar Gliders Mate?
Like many animals in the animal kingdom, the sugar glider can reproduce all year if they are provided with adequate amounts of protein in captivity. This means a female sugar glider can become pregnant at least three times a year and produce up to six babies during that time.
Male sugar gliders, unlike some other animals, may try to stay with the female during the pregnancy and birthing process. In some instances, however, the female may prefer to stay alone. If that is the case, it is best to respect her wishes and keep the male away until the babies are born.
Is It Legal to Breed Sugar Gliders in the US?
If you are in the United States, take note that it is illegal to own sugar gliders in certain states. Check with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Care office in your state to find out whether the laws in your area permit ownership of sugar gliders. If you own four or more breeding female sugar gliders, you may be subject to the Animal Welfare Act, which may require you to obtain a license and register your pets. If you’re not in the US, check all relevant legislation before adopting or breeding sugar gliders.
If you are the owner or simply a lover of sugar gliders, understanding their reproductive cycle is important. This will help you determine how many babies they have in a litter, how to help a mother sugar glider care for those babies, and when any females should be removed. This will keep all members of a sugar glider clan conflict-free and safe.
Featured Image Credit: I Wayan Sumatika, Shutterstock