How to Tell the Sex of a Pet Sugar Glider

Close-up of a woman holding a sugar glider.
Image Credit: kimberrywood/iStock/Getty Images

The sugar glider is a small, tree-dwelling marsupial originally from Indonesia and New Guinea. Due to their diminutive sizes and ability to form close bonds with their human caretakers, sugar gliders have become increasingly popular as pets in the United States since they were first introduced in 1994. Sugar gliders of either gender can make loving companions for their human owners.

Presence of a Pouch

The easiest way to discern a female sugar glider from a male is by the presence or absence of an abdominal pouch, according to the Exotic Nutrition Pet Company. The pouch is a vertical 1/2 inch opening on the female's abdomen. If there is no pouch, the glider is male. Females mature between 6 and 18 months of age and are capable of breeding until the age of 8. Spaying a female sugar glider is not recommended due to her intricate reproductive system.

Boys Will Be Boys

Male sugar gliders can be differentiated from females by the presence of the scrotum, which is located on the glider's abdomen and looks like a wart or fleshy button. The Pet Sugar Gliders website indicates that the male sugar glider's bifurcated penis resembles a long, thin worm and may be mistaken for a dislocated intestine by inexperienced owners. Though males can be neutered, this procedure ultimately will have little impact on a sugar glider's disposition.

Making Scents

The male sugar glider has scent glands on his head, chest and anus. As long as he is kept in a clean, well-maintained environment, the sugar glider will exude only a faint, musky odor. Males can be altered and will reach maturity between 4 and 12 months of age, according to the website Pet Sugar Gliders. Neutering the sugar glider renders his scent glands inactive. Bald spots located over the scent glands will fill in with new hair once the procedure is complete. Male sugar gliders who are altered before maturity will not develop bald spots.

Glider Behavior

Sugar gliders can make excellent pets, no matter their gender. They are territorial, however, and if a glider owner plans to neuter a male, it should be done before the age of 3 months, when a glider potentially will reach sexual maturity. This will prevent marking behaviors and attempts to copulate with female companions, according to the website My Little Sugar Glider. Gliders are social and should be kept in pairs, but are very territorial. The younger the pair is, the easier it will be for them to grow accustomed to one another. Neutered males can be kept together, but unaltered males may harm one another, so it is best to keep them separated if they are used for breeding purposes.