Sugar Glider as ESA? We look at the Pros and Cons!

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Yesterday, while looking at photos on Instagram, I found a cute little picture of this sugar glider. At that point, I thought, can I have him? What would it entail to have him? Do I need to understand some legal processes? How much would it cost? And several other such questions came up to my mind, and I started wondering. After a few seconds, I took my phone and searched every nook and corner of the web to find the answers. Today, I want to share my results with you.

Can Sugar Gliders Be Emotional Support Animals

Can sugar gliders be emotional support animals (ESA)? Of course, they can be. But there are several caveats attached to this statement. There are advantages and disadvantages to keeping a sugar glider. A sugar glider can be quite comforting, but it is hard to bond with it. Also, the initial cost is quite high to buy a sugar glider. It could range anywhere from $150-$600 depending on the type and color of the glider. So, you have to make your decision according to your own circumstances.

But, don’t worry, I’m here to help you out. In this post, I’m going to list everything that you need to understand before and after buying a sugar glider. Keep this post in your bookmarks so that you can read as the process follows. Let’s start.

What are Sugar gliders?

Sugar gliders are small pets native to Australia. They are marsupials, i.e., they carry their young in small pockets attached to their body just like their relative kangaroos. [1] Their age is between 10 to 12 years on average.[2] They could be the right choice for an emotional support animal. However, you should read more to understand both sides of the coin.

Things to understand before buying a sugar glider as an ESA

Things to understand before buying a sugar glider as an ESA

  • Bonding

The process of bonding is different for each glider, as sugar gliders can have different kinds of personalities. It could take months for some people, weeks for others. It is a case to case basis scenario.

  • Smell

You shouldn’t have to worry much about that, but keep a tab on proteins (like mealworms and bugs), and you should be fine. Their smell is quite similar to a ferret. If you can handle that, you are good to go.

  • Legal Aspects

Sugar gliders are legal in most of the states (in the US) except for the states of California, Hawaii, and Alaska, and in New York City. In some states (like Georgia and New Mexico), you must have a permit to own a sugar glider. Their breeding is also regulated under the animal welfare act. Outside the United States, some territories in Australia do not allow sugar gliders as pets.[3]

  • Transportation

Yes, you could carry your sugar glider on a plane, but this is conditional on a flight-to-flight basis, and as most of the regulations are constantly changing, you have to search before taking any step. Go to the website of your airline provider and check their rules regarding pets before boarding with a glider.

  • Research

Give at least a month to research before buying a glider. You need to understand entirely whether you can handle a glider or not. There is a lot of information available online, and you can check that out before making any decision. Do not take any decision in haste.

  • COST

The initial cost of purchasing the animal would be around $600 (at most) and the $250 for a cage, bowls, toys, and other accessories. After that, there isn’t much of a cost. They don’t eat much, so you don’t spend a lot of them. The food cost is anywhere between $10 and $30 per month.


Got it? Now you want to check out the pros and cons? Yes? So, let’s have it.


Advantages of having a sugar glider ESA (Pros)

Advantages of having a sugar glider ESA
via Reddit user u/YourTravelBestie
  • They are nocturnal, so if you are going to work, you won’t have a problem caring about your pet in the day because they are going to sleep at that time.[4] You can come home later and have a relationship with your pet when he awakes.


  • They are quite Apartment friendly, and they require a small area to live in.


  • Although they are costly in the beginning, the costs aren’t much after that.


  • Gliders can bond with their owners. They love the affection and attention of their owners.


  • They make excellent house pets, and they don’t make many noises, unlike a dog or cat.



Disadvantages of a sugar glider ESA (Cons)

Disadvantages of a sugar glider ESA

  • Sugar gliders are not that emotionally supportive, and the bonding could be difficult because some sugar gliders have difficult personalities. Pets like dogs and cats would be much better choices for those who want an easygoing ESA. You could also look at small pets like rats who also bond quite quickly.


  • You have to take care of the diet of the glider because sugar gliders are not like other animals, and you cannot just throw in some food in the bowl and have done with it.


  • The bonding process is long and could produce adverse results. Also, even after the bonding, some gliders do not like to be held or cuddled.


  • They need special cages and playing toys. It’s a one-time investment, but this could be expensive, depending on your budget.


  • As pointed out before, Sugar gliders can be illegal in some areas.


  • They can get scared initially when you have your first interactions with them and can respond by biting, scratching your hand.


  • If a glider is kept secluded for a long time, it will be hard for him to be paired with another glider after some months or years. The glider might attack the newcomer and seeing it as a threat until it is comfortable with him.


  • They have sharp claws and could be uncomfortable to hold with bare hands. They would also be problematic to manage in large places because they could fly. They can poop around everywhere, marking their territory.


I hope these tips would have cleared your mind and allowed you to decide on whether to buy or not. If you have decided to buy, where to buy one?


Where to buy a sugar glider?

You should find an exotic vet in your area, and he should know where to buy a sugar glider. Some exotic vets also provide sugar gliders for sale, but their prices could be unaffordable, so try around in the area and get the best price. Also, Avoid buying from breeding mills because they keep the gliders in very inhumane conditions, and you could get a severely damaged glider who would be challenging to bond with. Only purchase gliders from genuine breeders.


Not only that, I have compiled a list of things that should be kept in mind while purchasing a sugar glider.


Things to note while buying an ESA like a sugar glider


1. By two or more, not one

Pair of sugar gliders
via Reddit user u/CoachD97

Gliders are social animals. They live in the wild with a pack of 24+ gliders within it. They also like to sleep on a pile with 5 to 6 gliders piling over each other. Therefore, buying a single glider is not recommended. He could die from loneliness. You should always buy a pair of gliders and also make sure that one glider is male and the others could be females. If you buy more than one male, there are likely going to fight with each other and harm each other relentlessly.

2. Get as much as you can

When you are buying the glider, ask your vet everything about them from cutting their nails to how to hold them. They know a lot and could help you out with most of the conditions. Several veterinarians also provide information packets to those who need them.

3. Support local industry

Make sure to buy locally bread gliders and not imported once as the imported ones may have problems with the environment and the locality.

Gliders with rare colors are much more expensive, so avoid them if you want to reduce costs.

4. Older gliders are better

A new sugar glider would take a lot of time to bond with you and might bite you if they are not tamed. The bite is extremely nasty, and it could result in a tiny prick of blood. To avoid that, buy a tamed or an older glider. Its handling is much easier.


If you read this much, it is highly likely that you have already purchased or booked yourself a sweet little sugar glider. Now, you have to take care of him.



Tips to help you in keeping a sugar glider

Tips to help you in keeping a sugar glider

  • Train them to pee properly

They are not going to learn on their own; they are going to pee wherever they want. Make sure to stimulate their process of going to the bathroom by rubbing a wet cloth on their tail. You can also take off their sleeping pouch and let them roam around for 15 minutes, which would help them to ease off their stored urine. If you do not take these precautions, they could pee on your clothes or your hands when you try to hold them.


  • Join a support group

Join the Facebook group called sugar glider guardians, and they would provide a dedicated person to help you out with the complete process.

  • Keep their diet healthy

Diet is the most significant part of handling them. You have to provide fruits, vegetables, and proteins. For protein, provide them with fresh meat and worms. Add vitamin supplements so that they would stay healthy for a long time.


  • Buy a proper cage

Make sure you have a nice cage for them, and it should have a bonding pouch that they can sleep in during the day and also feel safe. Also, make sure that the cage’s bars are not more than half inches apart from each other so that they cannot escape easily. A suitable cage like this would cost you over $60. See this cage, for example.

  • Getting rid of the noise

Sometimes sugar gliders can make a lot of noise in the morning, which could not only disturb you but create problems with the neighbors.

This could be tackled by putting a cloth over their cages.

  • Do not use a string

They may nearly strangle themselves and hurt themselves badly. So, using a string is a bad idea with a sugar glider.

  • Dealing with the smell

You can use a dehumidifier if you are too concerned with the smell.




Sugar gliders can work well as an emotional support animal, but you have to keep in mind the constraints and precautions before buying them. Taking a decision that is going to affect your life for the next 12 to 15 years is not easy. So, read everything that you can and decide based on the pros and cons listed in this post.

Share this post with all of your family and friends who either own a sugar glider or want one. This could help them out. You can also share your opinions with us by writing to us using our contact us page or through the comment section below. Have a great day!

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Rahul C Pareek

I love all animals. I think they deserve to live on this planet as much as we do. I personally own several pets including the tiny rabbit, a hedgehog, and a small cat. I would love to share my experiences with others.

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