Sugar Glider Color Variations

Last month Dr. C gave us all a crash course on genetics with a brief discussion on how genetics determine glider colors.  First off, it seems that many of us who have chosen to become sugar glider caretakers are particularly interested in gliders because they are different!  And let’s face it, different can be quite fascinating.  We are seeing an explosion in requests lately for people who not only want gliders, but want gliders of a particular color variation.  Let’s briefly define what the commonly accepted color variations are and what they look like.

The normal colored glider is gray with a black racing stripe, black ear bars, white belly and pink nose.  The gray fur may be lighter or darker.  Some breeders interested in a selective breeding program favor the lighter gray coats if they are breeding for light colored gliders.  For instance, light gray gliders may be bred with white faced or blonde gliders in hopes of getting light, white-faced offspring.  We cannot speak for other breeders, but here at SunCoast, we do not price differentiate between light and dark gray gliders.

The coloration known as cinnamon is probably the most controversial of all colors.  Some breeders have successfully bred offspring that are born out of pouch with an interesting reddish/brown coat.  The full coat is of this coloration and the color lasts for the gliders’ lifetime. These gliders typically cost more than normal grays or browns.

What is a normal brown?  We have had quite a few babies born here with more of a brownish coat than gray.  One of our gliders, Janine, was born with a rich cocoa brown coat from birth and amazingly her fur seems to be significantly thicker than other gliders in our stewardship. 

Here’s where the controversy comes in on the cinnamon color. We have a fair number of “gray” babies born here that have a very distinctive orange / apricot tinge on the nape / shoulder blade area of the joey.  This color variation, often referred to as cinnamon, will morph over time.  The joeys seem to go through a stage of normal grayness as they get older, and then as they get closer to maturity, they can turn all brown, dark tan, or even slightly golden. 

The last color variation we will cover in this month’s issue is the white-faced or white-faced-blonde sugar glider.  These gliders may have a tannish or blonde coat on the body distinguishing them as a white-faced blonde.  Or a very similar variation will be a gray glider with the white-faced trait.  White-faced simply means that the glider has no black ear bars. 

Now there are a few other color variations out there that we will continue to discuss next month, but as Arnold promised, we have an interesting contest going this month.  Well, it’s not really a contest, but more like an auction.  Paul is now all grown up and his mate, Butterscotch, has two joeys recently out of the pouch.  This is Paul’s second litter and his first litter was a single female that we chose to keep.  Now Paul has both a baby boy and a baby girl.  The baby girl will remain with us to pair up with a new white-faced male baby we purchased from another breeder, but the baby male glider will be available to go to a good home.

Many color breeders utilize lists to find homes for new special gliders. While we do maintain a list, we thought this month we would do something different and fun, all to raise money for a very good cause.

Now about the baby!  He will be ready to leave here October 28.  This joey is what is called a “het for white face”.  Het is short for heterogenous and means that he carries the special white-faced trait, but it does not show on him.  He looks like a normal gray, but if paired with another “het for white face” baby, or actual white-faced baby, the chances are very good that a percentage of the offspring will bear the white faced trait.  This young joey could also be paired with a normal colored female with a lesser, but realistic, expectation that some of the future offspring will carry the coveted white face trait.  White-faced gliders are presently selling for up to $500!

So here’s how Arnold’s auction will work.  The opening bid for this joey sugar glider will be $250.  That is the going rate for a “het for white-face” joey sugar glider.  The difference between the winning bid and $250 will be donated to the American Diabetes Association for diabetes research and education.  

Why diabetes?  Well, first of all, gliders will only support organizations that have something to do with “sugar”!  Dietary issues are so crucial in caring for sugar gliders and managing diabetes, and we believe this is a worthy cause that touches the lives of millions of people (and animals) across the country.  The proceeds will be donated during National Diabetes Awareness Month, which is November.  To read more about diabetes and see how you can help, please visit the American Diabetes website at  And happy bidding!

Anyone interested in being a part of this auction should send an e-mail to (Sorry, no longer available) expressing interest in participating; please include your bid and any questions you may have.  Also please don’t expect an eBay-type of environment.  We will be tracking the bids manually.  Opening bid is $250!  

We will only run this auction until Saturday October 25 and it will end at 8 PM EST Time on that day.  All participants in this auction will be sent an email once per day (in the evening) with the current high bid.  You may either continue to bid or your may bow out; let us know if you no longer wish to participate, please.  On the last day of the auction, we will notify all active bidders at Noon, 3 PM, 6 PM, and 7 PM of the current high bid.  At 8 PM, the final winning bidder will be determined.  That’s EST time, so make sure to adjust your watch!

Upon notification of winning the auction, you will have 24 hours to post a deposit equal to half of the bid price.  The winning bidder will be responsible for the transportation charges for this sugar glider.  We (of course) will make all those arrangements at a time that is convenient for the winner.  SunCoast must also approve the winning bidder as a suitable glider keeper.  If for any reason, the top bidder does not ultimately take delivery of Paul’s joey, then we will go down the top bidder’s list in order until a suitable winner is determined.

Next month, we will continue this discussion with more of the rare colors gliders come in and we will also present the average costs of these gliders with the help of Judie H, long term breeder of quality and color sugar gliders!  And of course we will announce this month’s auction winner!

And now presenting, live from Saint Petersburg FL, the Tampa Bay Area’s original Yuk-aneer, Arnold T. Schwarzenglider!

Another Exciting Episode of …. DEAR ARNOLD


Note: Some of Arnold’s fan mail may be edited cause Arnold wants some of them to be shorter so he can have more space all to himself! Yuk Yuk Yuk!

Dear Arnold,

My sugar glider is expecting her first baby and earlier today I peeked in the nest box and actually got a first glimpse of the tiny little soul. Well, tonight she is out running around so I looked in the nest box and the baby wasn’t there! Then I checked her out really good and she’s still real fat!  Do you think the joey came out of the pouch too soon?


Dear Genie,

Great question!  And being a Genie, it should be eazy for me to ‘splain this to ya!  I heard most Genies live in bottles and you can pop right in and pop right out again.  Little joeys, specially when there is just one of em, can do the same thing but just for a few days!  Now you see em, now ya don’t … see the joey reaches an age that its activity level increases and it can come out the pouch, but there’s still enough space in the pouch to go back in for a bit.  Then one day, the joey is simply too big to go back in and has to stay out for good.  But the joey’s head can still fit in the pouch for its Mum to feed it!  Don’t worry Genie, you didn’t dream it! Yuk Yuk Yuk!

Your late night host,
A. T. Schwarzenglider


Dear Arnold,

Why are baby sugar gliders called joeys?


Dear A. Mous,

Ooooh, oooooh, I really know the answer to this.  Cause the words puppy and kitten were already taken …. Hehehehe!

Arnold, Lisa here.  I hate to cut in on your turf, but I don’t think that is entirely correct.  All baby animals in the marsupial family are called joeys … others include kangaroos, wallabies and koala bears!

That’s right, Lisa! I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention to me!  You know I just loooooove when you pay attention to me … can I have some mealworms?

XOXOXOXO, Arnikens

Well, That’s all Blokes!  Off to listen to my new CD from John Cougar Melonball!  Yuk Yuk Yuk!  Tune in again next month for another exciting episode of Dear Arnold! Don’t forget, you can share your short comments or fun questions with me by clicking here.

Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On… Glider Dental Health 

By Dr. C., of course!

We get quite a lot of questions on glider teeth and dental care.  Much of this may seem obvious to many of you, but from what I’ve been reading from the online communities, I feel it important to remind glider owners that sugar gliders are not guinea pigs, squirrels, rabbits, mice / rats or macropods (kangaroos and wallabies).  Each species has its own special anatomy, characteristics, and needs.  This fact is often overlooked causing inappropriate generalizations to be made by owners, breeders, and unfortunately, some veterinarians.  Make sure you have a vet that is familiar with sugar gliders.

In each species, teeth have developed to meet the lifestyle for which the animal is adapted.  This is an evolutionary process fine tuned over eons.  As an example, rabbit teeth are developed for a high fiber diet. They actually have two sets of incisors and move their jaws laterally when they chew, which helps keep continually growing teeth worn to appropriate levels.  In captivity, inappropriate diet, lack of chewing surfaces and/or recessive genetic traits often lead to situations where teeth, especially incisors must be trimmed and molars dremmeled.

Guinea pigs have teeth similar to rabbit teeth, in that all the teeth are open rooted (hypsodontic), meaning they grow continuously. Rodents such as mice and rats have incisors that grow continuously, however the molars are fixed and do not continue to grow.  Rodents often need the incisors trimmed.

Some marsupials, such as kangaroos and wallabies, have molar progression, meaning worn molars are shed and replaced by new ones.  Unfortunately, some captive diets are not abrasive enough which slows the molar replacement and can lead to infection.

So, what about sugar gliders?  None of the above applies to glider teeth.  When in chat rooms and message boards, be very careful taking advice from those who compare species.  Sugar gliders have fixed teeth, incisors, molars, and premolars. These teeth do not continue to grow and are not replaced if lost.  Sugar glider teeth should be firmly anchored within the gingiva (gum).

Appropriate diets for gliders should include insects and nectar/gums. We are presently testing some natural gum products designed to be painted on branches which creates a natural treat for the captive habitat.  In the wild, gliders will chew on branches to access the sap/manna and this process promotes dental health.  Gliders do not “need” to chew like some members of the rodent family, but the process of chewing is beneficial to overall health of the teeth.

Sugar gliders should not have their teeth trimmed, nor should the molars or premolars be dremmeled.  Normal chewing action of recommended dietary foods is enough to keep their teeth clean. 

If a tooth should fracture or a deep tooth root abscess occur, an extraction and/or antibiotics may be required.  Gingiva should not be bright red where the teeth and gum line meet.  Presence of this sign may indicate infection.  Your veterinarian may also suggest skull radiographs before any type of surgical extraction to confirm involvement of the mandible (jaw).

Sugar gliders are exquisitely evolved for free-ranging life in the rain forest.  As such, they have unique physiological characteristics, which must be considered when deciding on housing, diet and medical care.

Tune back in next month for a brand new topic.  These topics are driven by your requests, so send your questions about glider health care issues by clicking here and we will do our best to include in a future edition of the GliderVet Newsletter.   I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. 

I’ll see you again next month!

Dr. C.  
(Janine M Cianciolo, DVM)