I get asked this question a lot. I am going to give my opinion based on my years of experience with sugar gliders.
Pet ownership in itself can be a challenge for some. Sugar Gliders are not like the average cat or dog who usually are pretty friendly and loving to the owner almost from the start. Sugar Gilders are still exotic animals. They are creatures of habit, and this side of wild. If you change just one thing in their lives, it can become stressful. When moving to a new home, we are changing many things for them within the course of a week, so you can imagine their level of stress and anxiety at this point. Plus, every glider handles stress differently.
Gliders in the new home may crab, lunge and even bite their owners out of fear. You are a stranger to them and they are unsure if they can trust you. You must do your part in working out the trust bond with them. In other areas of the site, I have given you tips on how this can be done. If you purchase gliders from me and have one glider that is a hard nut to crack, I am here to help you figure it out and offer advice on how to get the bond going.
Proper diet is important and essential for your gliders. If a diet is as easy as taking a pellet out of the bag, then it’s not a good diet. Those are “junk” foods and very unhealthy and can be the matter of life or death for your pets. I have spoken about this in the “Diet” section of the website. You must feed them correctly, and that can take a little time to learn.
There can also be emotional difficulties with some gliders if they go through a traumatic experience or feel stressed by the presence of another animal such as a cat or dog in the home. Sometimes certain people who are high-strung, loud and aggressive will have an adverse effect on the emotional state of a sugar glider. These are all things you need to be aware of. Even after a trust bond is formed with you, other people or animals in the house may stress them out later on. A good breeder can help you to deal with that as well.
I do not like to sell people sugar gliders as breeders, unless they have kept a pair as pets for at least a couple of years. It’s important to know and to be comfortable with all the basics of glider care and well being first, before venturing into breeding.
To be a good and responsible breeder, a person must need to know about the genetics. A breeder needs to know about Recessive, Dominant and Co-Dominant genes and how they work. They need to understand how to read pedigrees and to be able to look at a family tree from a male and female, and to determine if there are any like relatives within the first 4 generations.
To be a breeder, a person must be comfortable and confident around the gliders. If they are not, the animals will pick up on it. Male Sugar Gliders can breed as young as 12-14 weeks out of pouch. A female can come into her first estrus cycle by the time she is 4 to 6 months out of pouch. Males generally do not tend to breed the female until she is ready, so long as the male is around the same age or younger than the female. If a new owner is not yet fully bonded to a pair when the female puts her first joeys in pouch, they may not feel comfortable enough in the environment. If they sense an owner is inexperienced or nervous around them, they will not hesitate to pull and cannibalize their own joeys. It’s a natural instinct. Gliders must feel good with everything, including their owner, before they will be good parents.
Some joeys are rejected at the time they are ready to detach from nipple. If this happens, even the most experienced of breeders loose the joeys about 50% of the time. Even though there are ways to keep the joeys warm and feed them, there is no better replacement milk out there for them but mother’s milk. Joeys rejected this young must be fed every 2 hours around the clock for several weeks, or they will die. That means you can’t go to sleep (or you must keep re-setting an alarm clock and getting up) for the first two to three weeks of fostering them.
Even the most experienced of breeders will have rejected joeys from time to time. If the parents just discard them for you to care for, you have a big challenge ahead of you. Speaking from my place in which I have lost some of these hand fed babies, when you work with them day after day, night after night and still lose them, it can be very emotional and draining for a person. No matter how many times I have lost a joey I was trying to save, it’s still really hard on you. Fortunately, I have good bonds with all my breeders and I understand what not to do to encourage joey pulling, so it doesn’t happen very often here. But, I never say never. I have had brand new mothers get nervous if I brought a person they did not know into the glider room, and they will pull the joeys. For this reason, I can no longer have people in the glider room when they come to my house to pick up their babies.
And then there is the finding of homes for the joeys. Finding good homes can be a challenge sometimes. You want to do right for the babies. And it can also be hard to part with them once you have worked with them and spent time. On rare events, you may have triplets. The only time this has ever happened to me, I had to help the mother hand supplement the smaller of the 3 joeys because he was half the size of his brother and sister, and she wasn’t producing enough milk for all of them. The two bigger siblings would push him aside. He made it and was close to his brother’s weight by the time they weaned, but it was hard. A female in her prime can have joeys 4 times a year. She will have one to two joeys at a time. That means she can possibly have 8 joeys in one year. Even with one female, that’s a lot of joeys to find homes for.
If you think you will be able to handle these things, then perhaps you will make a fine breeder. If you don’t think you have the stomach for it, best to leave the breeding to someone who can handle it better.