It’s easy to want to breed sugar gliders. After all, who wouldn’t want to have the amazing experience of watching joeys grow from hairless, pink blobs to fast, adorable gliders?
If you’re going to breed sugar gliders, you have to think it over long and hard. It isn’t a snap decision. Don’t start out breeding. Learn about gliders before you jump into the whole world of helping these guys reproduce. You’ll find that caring for normal sugar gliders can be challenging enough on its own, without the added stress of helping to raise the young.
If you have more than three breeding females at once, you must be licensed to sell. I am considered a hobby breeder because I only have one breeding female and it is not my profession, but something that I decided to do on the side.
Before we jump into the reasons why not to breed, let me make a note about lineage. If you do any research into breeding, you’ll come across this again and again. Lineage is incredibly important. Because sugar gliders are still a relatively new pet in the USA (they’ve only been here since the 1990s), the gene pool is very small. If you don’t have lineage on your breeding pair, it’s likely that you will get inbred babies. It doesn’t matter if you get one sugar glider from one state and a different one from some place completely different. There is still a high chance that they could be related.
Inbreeding is a big problem and can cause all sorts of troubles with the joeys including a higher risk of rejection/cannibalization, blindness, uncontrollable shaking, etc. If your gliders aren’t lineaged, please do not breed them.
Reason One: Cannibalization and Rejection
When you breed, there is always the risk that your female will reject or worse cannibalize the joeys at any given time. This is the harsh reality. Sometimes your female’s body isn’t able to support the babies. Sometimes she’s under too much stress, or she’s too young or too inexperienced. You must be prepared for this. Sad as it is, it’s a reality. If you can’t deal with it, you shouldn’t breed.
Reason Two: Illness
Another reason not to breed is for the health of your female. Females can get mastitis. If your female has an infection, it can be passed to the joey. Females can get pouch infections. When sugar gliders mate, the male can inflict wounds on the female’s shoulders. There are a lot of complications that can happen when breeding.
Joeys can be born deformed. They can be born sick. They can be too weak to survive in the world and they can die.
Reason Three: Emotional and Physical Stress
Breeding is stressful on you. Period. When you are responsible not only for the health of your breeding pair, but also for the health of the joeys, it can be really hard and exhausting. You’ve got to watch everyone very carefully and be willing to step in and care for rejected joeys or to love on the mother if she’s pulled her babies.
You’ve got to try to limit the stress on the parents. You’ve got to make sure that everyone is eating the proper foods to keep them strong and healthy.
In other words, you are under a ton of stress.
Reason Four: No Trips
If you are a full time breeder, you’re not going to be able to take a lot of trips. Traveling stresses gliders out and when a female has joeys, you want to keep the stress as low as possible. You’ll have to be able to commit to staying home or you’ve got to find someone else who can pet sit for you (which is hard in and of itself…you have to find someone who is not only skilled with gliders, but who knows about joeys and would know what to do in the case of an emergency).
Reason Five: Not a Money Maker
Sugar gliders sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars per glider. So it’s easy to assume that if you become a breeder, you’ll be swimming in money.
Well, not exactly.
Sugar gliders are incredibly expensive pets. Breeding only adds to those expenses. There are vet bills, neuters, checkups and emergencies that will arise whether you want them to or not. You’re going to have to put a lot of time and money into breeding and raising sugar gliders before you see much of a pay back. If your only reason for breeding is the money, don’t do it. You’ll be disappointed.
Reason Six: Time
Breeding takes a lot of time, especially after the joeys come out of pouch. You want to get them used to humans. You want to take away the natural instinct in them that says that humans are dangerous and scary. That means that you have to have time every night to socialize the joeys.
Reason Seven: Finding Homes
Finding good homes for your joeys can be really hard. There are a lot of impulse buyers out there. You obviously can’t be 100% sure if someone is going to take good care of your joeys or not. You have to screen the potential homes and you have to be okay turning people down.
Reason Eight: Saying Goodbye
You have to be able to say goodbye to the joeys. This is hard. You have invested months of your life into watching these babies grow. You’ve socialized them. You’ve had them on you (to tame them and to get them used to people) and now you’re going to have to let them go. They’re going to be going to their new homes and it’s unlikely that you will ever see them again. If you’re not okay with saying goodbye, you shouldn’t breed.
Breeding is amazing and wonderful, but it is also tough. I have loved my experience with it. It’s been amazing to watch the babies grow and to see new life unfold before my eyes. But I have also made a decision to neuter Ink. Why? Because I feel like the strain of having joeys is wearing on Dreamer. As much as I love the whole process, Dreamer’s health is more important to me than what I enjoy. You’ve got to be able to make decisions like that as well.