Hey everyone! I’m Megan Eklund from Colorado Sugar Gliders. I’m so excited to have been invited to share with you today. Thank you for having me. My family (husband-Jamie, kids-Ryan (12), Sean (12), Ian (9) and Zoe (6)) and I have a small sugar glider breeding program that we run together. We currently have a breeding trio made up of Reggie (BFBB Mosaic Ringtail) and sisters Lily (BB Mosaic) and Susie (BB). We are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of an additional trio and two more pairs to add to our breeding program.
So why did we start breeding sugar gliders?
The answer to this really needs broken down into two separate questions. Why did we start a family business? And why did we choose sugar gliders?
Why did we start a family business?
My husband Jamie has always been an entrepreneur at heart, and several of our kids follow in his footsteps. He has desired to create a business that the kids can work at with us. This allows us to spend more time together as a family. It also allows our kids to learn valuable skills such as hard work, marketing, money management, responsibility, ethical care practices and communication skills. Real life, practical situations are always more valuable than hypothetical scenarios in a classroom. I also homeschool our kids, so anything that can help reinforce ideas I am already teaching them is a plus. The hard part became, what business can be profitable, but still do all the things we want it to?
Why did we choose sugar gliders?
What seemed like out of the blue one morning, Jamie said “Remember sugar gliders? What if we started a business breeding and selling them?” To say we were all shocked is an understatement, but we were also extremely excited. The kids were tasked with researching sugar gliders and other small animals to determine the reality and possible profitability of each animal. While we researched several animals including chinchillas, flying squirrels (which we found out are not legal to own in our state) and guinea pigs, we ultimately landed on sugar gliders for a couple of reasons. Their exotic nature and therefore hopefully higher demand, their ease of breeding, and their care and lifespan.
Exotic Nature, Personality and High Demand–Being from Australia, being marsupials, and having the ability to glide, makes them very unique. Because of this exotic, unique nature, there are not a lot of breeders around. In fact, we were not able to find any in our area. They each also have unique personalities. They bond with their owners, are playful like kittens or puppies, yet are so snuggly during the day when they are sleeping. Because of the increased demand for pets in general during this pandemic, we felt that now was the time to take the plunge and begin breeding and selling gliders.
Ease of Breeding–Unlike many animals, sugar glider breeding is fairly uncomplicated if the gliders have proper housing, diet and care. Since they are colony animals and live together all the time, nothing needs to be done to encourage breeding. Intact males will breed with any female in their colony. With a very short gestation period of 17 days, tiny unformed gliders are “born” and crawl up to their mother’s pouch where they latch on to a nipple and remain for 70-72 days. Females may have one or two joeys in their pouch at a time. When the baby comes out of the pouch (OOP) we consider this their birthdate. Joeys cannot regulate their own body temperature for several weeks OOP, so they need to be carried by a parent to be kept warm and fed. They will still nurse during this time. The father actually plays a vital role in raising joeys. He helps take care of them and gives the mother a break when needed. So the fathers are never removed from the mother, babies and rest of the colony. The joeys however do need to be removed when they are weaned because more than one intact male can fight for territory, and as said, males will breed with any sexually mature female, even their own daughters. In sugar gliders, inbreeding causes serious health issues. So that being said, make sure that whatever breeder you are adopting your gliders from can provide lineage to prove that the joey’s parents were not related.
Care and Lifespan–The last reason we settled on sugar gliders is because of their long lifespan 10-15 years and their care needs. The fact that they can live as long as a dog, matched with the fact that they bond with their owners makes them very appealing as a long-term pet companion. We also felt that their care needs were doable. I would not say that their needs are easy per-se, but definitely doable. They require large cages with a wheel, pouch and plenty of other stimulation. They require a specialized fresh food diet (we use The Pet Glider (TPG) diet) and vitamins to ensure good health. There are currently no pellet diets that meet all a sugar glider’s needs, so a fresh food diet is a must. Most sugar glider health issues come from not being fed a proper diet. One of these such issues is calcium deficiency. Thankfully, there are several well researched fresh food diets + vitamins out there that you can choose from. If you give your gliders a proper home, make sure they are not alone (ie. not a single glider), and are given a healthy diet, they do not tend to have many health issues. They also do not require any vaccinations which is a plus.
It has been super fun to see our kids learn and grow. Our older boys have become so responsible helping their siblings and getting food prepared and cleaning. And the younger ones have grown in gentleness and care and responsibility. The kids take turns weekly (with some help) doing the suggie chores, and we all enjoy playing with them in the evenings and bonding with them in pouches during the day. We are excited to see how our business, our gliders and our family grows through this. If you have questions or comments, or are looking for a glider (or pair), I would love to hear from you. You can reach me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or on our Website. Thanks so much for hanging with me.
Connect with us:
Phone: (970) 301-3653
Facebook: Colorado Sugar Gliders