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In captivity gliders will often mate 3 times a year and possibly more. Litter size is usually 1, sometimes 2 and rarely 3 babies. Just as with other marsupials, baby gliders are called joeys. Sugar glider offspring have a 16 day gestation period at which time they are born and emerge from the mother completely blind and helpless, and must find their own way into the mothers pouch to finish development. The joey finds one of four nipples that will swell in its mouth and keep it firmly attached for up to 40 days. The joey will spend approximately 10 weeks living and growing inside the mother's pouch. Towards the end it will emerge often and cling tightly to the mother's back as it starts to explore the world. After about 16 weeks joeys should be completely weaned and independent of their mother.

Females can sexually mature by 16 weeks OOP and males by 12 weeks OOP. Males can be easily identified by their testicles on their bellies. It is generally advised that female sugar gliders not be bred until at least 1 year of age to allow their bodies to mature physically & be better able to care for their joeys.

A strange feature of the male is the bifuricated genitalia which consists of two shafts instead of one and resembles a forked tongue of a snake. Mating is often hard to witness because it will happen in the very late hours of the night. The male will mount the female and hang on very tight with his legs and arms and will bite onto the neck to help subdue her. Males can become sexually mature as early as 4 months old.

Some glider owners have the notion that male sugar gliders have a strong odor. Adult male sugar gliders do have three scent glands. However, most of the odor they produce is associated with mating. Even then it is slight when compared to a ferret for example. Male sugar gliders, if not kept with female gliders, produce little or no detectable odor.

Once weaned from the mother, a young glider will be a welcomed addition to the group and could go on to live a happy life of up to fifteen years.


In Australia, the wild sugar gliders's breeding season is July to December( midwinter to start of Summer) and usually they have two sets of babies within that time. It is believed the time of birth in the wild is linked to the time/s of the year when additional protein is available to assist in lactation. Breeding twice within these time frames has curiously also been noticed in captive gliders that are kept in an outside aviary environment in Australia.

Breeding success in wild gliders vary from year to year and with different locations as well as different climatic changes. ie. during droughts or when food is limited, breeding may be impaired. Reproduction rates can also vary depending on tree species and different foliage nutrients available as well as the density of the glider population in the area.

Gliders live in colonies of up to 12 individual gliders though each colony may have different nesting groups. The primary reason for nesting in groups is believed to be improved energy conservation by huddling during the Winter. Larger winter nesting groups then disband into smaller groups in Summer. I have also noticed this with my outdoor captive glider colony.

Reference: Gliders of Australia (A Natural History)- David Lindenmayer



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Last Edited April 19, 2013