Sugar gliders are adorable, but their cute looks are exactly what’s hurting them. Shoppers may be walking around the mall and see these little guys for sale at a store or kiosk and buy them on impulse. But soon after purchasing them, people quickly realize that they are unprepared for the responsibility of caring for these active, inquisitive nocturnal animals.
Even buyers who have done tons of research, prepared their homes as much as possible, and have the best intentions will never be able to provide the tiny marsupials with an environment that compares to the wild, where they will be able to thrive and live happily.
In their native Australian habitat, sugar gliders live in large family groups and enjoy grooming and interacting with each other. They are also tree dwellers who love climbing and have a furry membrane spanning from wrist to ankle that allows them to glide from tree to tree—similar to a flying squirrel.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night. But when kept as companion animals, they are commonly subjected to bright lights and noises while their human guardians are awake during daylight hours, which can make sleeping impossible for them.
Many people who buy sugar gliders come to realize that captivity is simply not a suitable environment for this type of animal. Because sugar gliders are meant to live in trees, they have sharp claws for climbing and grasping, which can make it uncomfortable or even painful for humans to hold them in their bare hands. When kept as “pets,” they are denied everything they need to be truly happy—the companionship of their own species, fresh air, the outdoors, and the opportunity to climb and explore the wilderness. Instead, those who were purchased from malls or pet stores often end up spending most of their time sitting and peering out of a cage. 🙁
In the international pet trade, sugar gliders are bred in hellish facilities similar to puppy mills where they are treated as nothing more than products. Untold numbers of sugar gliders and other small animals are stuffed into tiny containers (sometimes even plastic water bottles) and shipped all over the world to be sold to consumers. Buying any animal funds this international network of suffering.
Among the most notorious companies contributing to sugar gliders’ suffering is Pocket Pets, which targets impulse buyers by peddling sugar gliders in mall kiosks all over the U.S. After being contacted by PETA, more than 1,300 retail locations nationwide now prohibit the sale of sugar gliders, including the largest mall owner in the U.S., Simon Property Group.
Another leading retail manager, Macerich, is phasing out pet stores in all of its more than 70 malls nationwide and is instead offering the stores’ old spaces as adoption centers for homeless animals.
What You Can Do
Don’t ever support the breeding industry by buying any animal, including sugar gliders, from any store. If you’re ready for the responsibility of bringing an animal companion into your life, adopt a homeless animal from a shelter instead.