Product Testing, Bonding with Sugar Gliders in “Room Cages”?

Sugar Glider Product Testing
by Lisa

Product safety is a philosophical pursuit that we take very seriously here at SunCoast.  Testing products is something that goes on year round here at the Sugar Shack.  For every 15 products we test, only about 1 makes the cut.  In order to make it on our website, an item must not only be safe and sturdy, but it also has to pass muster of the ultimate end users: our rough-housing sugar gliders!

Before considering whether to bring in a toy for testing, we drive our suppliers crazy with a barrage of questions regarding every single component of every single toy we look at.  Some have actually accused us of being interrogators!  But that’s just the beginning.

Once we’ve queried suppliers to screen items for material safety, next up comes the “actual product testing”.  Every item in our online store gets tested over a long period of time to ensure it is safe, sturdy and glider-approved.  It typically takes a good six months from start to finish to complete our quality assurance protocol.  After all, how can we ensure your glider goodies will hold up if they haven’t been tested over time by us – and our gliders?

And no matter how safe, cute and / or sturdy a product may seem
to us, if the sugar gliders ignore it, then testing ends.  At that point, the gliders have rated the item “two patagiums down” and proclaimed it an epic fail!  Even if we, the people, liked the product. Bummer!  But if the suggies ain’t happy, then ain’t nobody happy ’round here, if you know what I mean.

On consumable products, we always check with expert resources outside of ourselves, including (but not limited to) veterinarians and nutritionists.  Again, no matter how healthy it may be, if the gliders don’t like it, then we go back to the drawing board.

We encourage all sugar glider owners to take the time to ensure the safety of their glider products; proper assembly and maintenance is critical.  Click here to review a past article on product maintenance.

One of the advantages of offering a line of sugar glider products that are actually tested with sugar gliders is that we are able to see how durable an item will be, which is especially important for expensive items like cages.  There are so many knockoffs out there these days, and we often get offers from suppliers interested in proving they have an equal, or superior product at a better price than what we have.

For example, despite numerous trials over the years, we’ve still not found a better cage line than HQ, makers of the first four cages on this page.  For the money, the HQ brand makes the safest, most durable cages for gliders.  But if another brand comes out with an equal or better cage then we have no problem offering a new alternative, as long as it meets our criteria for safety and durability.

There are quite a few companies online selling pet products without direct and long term experience with the animal itself.  SunCoast Sugar Gliders was the very first online sugar glider company to introduce vets into our process from the launch of our very first newsletter.  But just because a website may be marketed as being run by vets does not automatically imply that vets are involved in selecting products for all the animals on their website.  For instance, we saw a “sugar glider cage” for sale on the website of a large pet website “run by vets” that we’d not consider suitable for a hamster.  It was much smaller than a ten gallon aquarium.  It is disturbing they would actually call this a sugar glider cage.

As time goes on, we continue to make improvements to our process.  More and more, we are looking for things that also make items easier for humans to maintain.  After all, we’d all much rather be playing with our gliders than cleaning their stuff all the time!

Bonding with Sugar Gliders in “Room Cages”

I’ve had my gliders for about a year now and while they are bonded
pretty well.  I’ve never really attempted to handle them the way I see
others handling them in pictures.  I let them have free roam of their
own private room.  They will come and jump on me and hang out but
I was wondering if you have any tips on getting them even more used to sitting with me.

Thanks, Joe & Penny


Hi J & P,

Sugar gliders are quite the creatures of habit and the sooner we can
get them started with a “routine”, the easier it becomes to get them
into the habit of things.  First, let’s talk about the concept of giving them a whole room.  I’ve never done this personally, but have met several folks over the years who do this.  And in general, I do find that the stories I hear for these folks are of sugar gliders who are not quite as connected to their humans.

My opinion on this is that they are so stimulated by the environment
that they find their amusement in many ways, so it marginalizes the
amusement value of their humans.  This is not a bad thing and it pleases some people tremendously.

Even when we provide a super large habitat, it is still significantly
smaller than even most small rooms.  We should aim to get them as large a habitat as you can afford – both financially and space wise – since the larger the cage, the more pleasant a life for the gliders.

When people give them whole rooms, folks also often provide trees for climbing, ropes for swinging, cargo nets, toy soldiers, and other items limited only by the human imagination.  Sugar gliders are territorial, so giving them a lot of space with a lot of activities keeps them interested in life, and that’s a good thing.  For those of us who use cages, we often have the experience of the gliders bounding to the door even if we are just walking by.  A lot of the activity of gliders in cages takes place when we let them out to play.

Having said all that, most people will choose to keep their sugar
gliders in a cage (I really don’t like that word, but it is what it is).
When starting off with the bonding process, it is best to keep them
under your control.  That way, when you do start letting them explore on their own, they will see you as part of their territory, like a “safe tree” so to say.  If you start off by cupping them in your hands as they sleep during the day, they will get used to this.  It becomes a part of the routine of hanging out with their human tree.  If you start  off by giving them their own room, you tend to end up with sugar gliders that have a more independent sense about them.

I’m not a fan of the concept of “starter cages”, as I’ve never heard or seen anything to indicate that big cages will slow down bonding.  I’ve
always used big cages and bonding is not an issue.  Time and
patience always prevail.

But a whole room is a different story.  I’ve heard consistently over the years that this can make them more independent.  It is not so much that they are less bonded, they are just less dependent on you to have their free-for-all fun.  These gliders have access to a huge space at will and all the time whereas most sugar gliders associate this kind of freedom as a gift from their human friend, so they have more of a reliance on us to give us access to free roaming time.

I’m not of the mind to believe that keeping them in a large cage
versus a whole room is better or worse than the other;  I think either can lead to very happy, well adjusted lives.  

But I do have rather strong opinions on cage size and life in the cage.  A large cage is better than a small cage.  Offering toys and other enrichments is a definite plus for the quality of their life; there is a big difference between Thriving and just Surviving.  And having time out of the cage to spend with their humans is another level of stimulation we can offer to them every day.  Yes, I do recommend this as an everyday activity, just as those dog walkers out there tend to take Rover around the block every day.  For one thing, it helps to release extra energy, which has a calming effect on animals.  It also helps to prevent boredom which can lead to the gliders engaging in damaging behavior due to poor mental health.

I also admire those who have the luxury of offering whole rooms to
their sugar gliders.  I’m sure there is really good feeling that comes
from being able to provide such a grand space for your fuzzies; just know there may be a trade off in that more independent
animals are less dependent on you for their entertainment.

And whether you have them in a cage or a whole room, at night they will want to play, jump, and explore rather than sit still, so nights are not so great for bonding.  We have said many times that daytime is the best time to bond.  Daytime is the best time to expect them to sit and hang out with you.  

Having sugar gliders is almost like having two pets in one.  You have the sleepy headed, ready to hang out in the pocket, sit in your hands, or sleep in your shirt daytime persona.  And at night, you are dealing with Top Gun!  Don’t have great expectations of them sitting with you much at night.  Sugar gliders will take naps throughout the night, so if you get them during naptime, you may have a quiet moment of human and glider together, but for the most part, this is not how things roll with our nocturnal wild kids!

‘Til next time, in good health for you and your gliders, we sign off in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures with us!