Are Sugar Gliders Nocturnal? What Are Their Sleeping Habits?

Sugar gliders are unique pets so, prospective sugar glider owners have many questions they need answered before they go through with getting a sugar glider. 

Two important questions to consider:

Are sugar gliders nocturnal? Yes, sugar gliders are nocturnal.  This means they are mostly active during the night and usually sleep throughout the day.  The sleeping habits of nocturnal pets brings with it different challenges for sugar glider owners.

What are sugar gliders sleeping habits?  There are too many sugar glider sleeping habits to list in a brief sentence or two.  You’ll need to read on to find out.  Feel free to use the table of contents guide below to skip to what information you need.

Why Are Sugar Gliders Nocturnal?

While sugar gliders are incredibly cute to us, to other animals, especially in the wild, sugar gliders look like a tempting meal.  To help keep themselves from being eaten by predators, sugar gliders have adapted in various ways.

Sugar gliders are well known for their ability to spread their patagia and glide up to 165 feet (50 meters).  Being able to soar away from predators and towards prey has its advantages!  Their ability to glide means they are able to spend most of their time in the trees. 

Gliding from tree branch to tree branch isn’t the only way sugar gliders avoid becoming prey. 

Being nocturnal is another tool sugar gliders have to keep predators away.  Many predators of sugar gliders are diurnal, meaning they are mainly active during the daytime.  

In the wild, sugar gliders will build nests in trees.  Once they have a safe place to sleep, sugar gliders will hunker down during the day, when many of their predators are on the move and hunting. 

As pets, sugar gliders, will naturally still be nocturnal.  Which means as a responsible guardian to your suggies, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

Sugar Glider Sleeping Habits

As nocturnal animals, a lot of questions involving a sugar gliders’ sleeping habits will revolve around when they are exposed to light.  If you have your sugar gliders in a place that has little to no natural light, you may have to stimulate them with artificial light. 

Using artificial light in the wrong way or the wrong time of day has its own problems.  Please see our guide about whether you can change a sugar glider’s sleeping schedule below.

With that said, let’s explore sugar glider sleeping habits for pet suggies who are in rooms with natural light.

How Long Do Sugar Gliders Sleep?

Sugar gliders sleep roughly 12 hours a day.  If you’re relying on natural light to help your sugar gliders keep their schedule, this time can vary as the seasons change. 

Remember, sugar gliders are all unique, but most sugar glider owners report that their suggies mostly stick to this roughly 12-hour schedule. 

However, just like some humans need a lot more sleep than others, the same will be true with the length of sleep your sweet sugar gliders need as well. 

So, 12 hours give or take a couple of hours is how much sleep sugar gliders need every day.

What Time Do Sugar Gliders Wake Up?

Sugar gliders have no set schedules or need for clocks.  They wake and sleep based on their perception of when it is night or day.

This means sugar gliders will begin to wake up when it is beginning to get dark and start putting themselves back to bed as it starts to get light.

So what hours are sugar gliders awake?  Depending on where you live, and the natural light they are exposed to this can vary throughout the year. 

Why Is My Sugar Glider Sleeping Too Much?

Some people worry that their sugar glider is sleeping too much.  This isn’t always a sign of lethargy.  You need to make sure that your adorable friends have the right environment to be awake in too. 

Sugar gliders aren’t likely to come out if there’s a bright light on in the room.  Don’t disturb your sugar glider during their normal sleeping hours or they’ll need a nap during the night. 

Finally, make sure your sugar glider has something to do when they’re awake.  Sugar gliders are social animals and do best when they live with others.  Make sure they have plenty of toys and places to play while they’re awake. 

How Do Sugar Gliders Sleep?

In the wild sugar gliders usually don’t sleep alone, in fact, sugar gliders often sleep in groups rather than just pairs.  They are social animals, so it’s not rare to find a group of 10 adult sugar gliders all sharing a nest together. 

Sleeping in groups helps sugar gliders stay warm.  All of the body heat from each other can keep them from getting too cold and entering torpor (see the section about hibernation below). 

So, if you are thinking of getting multiple sugar gliders, as far as sleeping goes, it’s ok to have them all together at least.  There are of course other things you might want to consider, such as if you want your female sugar gliders to get pregnant. 

Not every sugar glider owner is willing and able to handle the responsibility of raising sugar glider joeys!

Where Do Sugar Gliders Sleep?

Wild sugar gliders build nests high up in trees to sleep.  This keeps them safe from most predators.  Fortunately for your pet sugar gliders, there aren’t (or shouldn’t be!) any predators that can get them. 

Most pet sugar gliders sleep safely in their enclosure.  Ideally, you’ll have provided, at minimum, some nesting material and an area for a nesting box so they can mimic their life in the wild. 

Many sugar glider owners go further and provide their lovable pals with sleeping pouches.  You’ll likely find that once bonded your sugar gliders prefer fleece sleeping pouches over nesting material and boxes.

Sugar glider sleeping pouches are an excellent choice for your furry friends.  Since many people enjoy keeping their sugar gliders close during the day, sleeping pouches can be a secure way to do so. 

When you aren’t able to keep your sugar glider with you, simply put the sleeping pouch back in their enclosure. 

Remember sleeping pouches and bonding pouches are slightly different, but both are affordable and easy to make on your own if you’d prefer.

Since sugar gliders rely on natural light to keep their sleeping schedule, you’ll want to place their cage in an appropriate spot so that it receives a decent amount of light from the sun. 

This doesn’t mean the cage should be in direct sunlight.  In fact, direct sunlight on a cage can be detrimental to your sugar gliders.  You don’t want them to get too hot!

Rather, the cage needs to be in a room that receives ample natural light for your sugar glides to know the difference between day and night.

Are Sleeping Pouches or Nesting Boxes Better for Sugar Gliders?

While most sugar gliders will end up preferring sleeping pouches, not all will.  If your lovable pal hasn’t hit that stage yet (or never does) that is okay!  Fleece sleeping pouches are generally more comfortable for your sugar gliders and easier for you to clean.

However, some sugar gliders don’t feel as safe in sleeping pouches as they do nesting boxes.  Another reason some sugar gliders prefer nesting boxes over sleeping pouches is that it is too hot for them when they are in the pouch.

If this is the case, and no nesting box or material is provided your sugar gliders may attempt to remove some of the fleece from the sleeping pouch.  This can lead to unanticipated problems.

They may render the sleeping pouch useless if they tear holes through it.  This could result in large bits of fleece going down the drain causing plumbing issues when you wash the torn pouch.  Not a problem you anticipated your tiny friends would cause!

How Often Should I Clean My Sugar Glider’s Sleeping Pouch?

This can be a delicate subject for you and your sugar gliders.  Sugar gliders like familiar things, including their own scent in their sleeping pouches.  But, like most everything your sugar gliders use, their sleeping pouch will need to be cleaned from time to time. 

Overall, it is a good idea to clean pouches about once a week.  However, this can be tricky.  And you don’t want to stress out your sugar gliders. 

There are some sugar gliders, especially those who were removed from their parents at too young of an age, that will need to be cleaned up after more often.  When sugar gliders are taken too young, they might not learn to relieve themselves away from where they sleep.  If this is the case with your tiny friend, don’t worry, many eventually figure it out for themselves.

To avoid putting stress on their sweet pets, some sugar glider owners put up more pouches than their pets need.  They pay attention to which pouch is used the most.  This is usually based more on the location in the cage rather than the pouch itself. 

When the favorite pouch needs to be washed, they will move the next favorite pouch to its spot.  This gives your suggies a safe, comfortable place to sleep in while you clean the dirty favorite pouch. 

Depending on the number of sugar gliders in your colony, and the number of pouches you have, you can easily and slowly rotate through them as needed without causing too much stress to your sugar gliders.

One thing to be on the look out for though, is that sometimes the favorite pouch will be the cleanest.  Your sugar gliders may avoid eating and relieving themselves in it but use the other pouches for these activities.

If that is the case, a rotational cleaning still works, but you might need to rotate pouches in a different order. 

How To Safely Clean a Sugar Glider’s Sleeping Pouch

Cleaning a sugar glider’s sleeping pouch isn’t complicated, but you might not want to simply toss it in with your own laundry.  Fortunately, with most sugar gliders, their pouches will only need to be cleaned about once a week.

As anyone who has sugar gliders knows, they are tiny.  The small size of sugar gliders means they can feel the affects of cleaning agents and other chemicals more than us humans.  Because of this, some sugar glider owners opt to only wash sugar glider sleeping pouches in all-natural detergent and omit the softener. 

Some folks go even farther and put their suggies’ sleeping pouches through an extra rinse cycle to make sure every bit of detergent is out before they let their sugar gliders sleep there again.

Using non-scented detergents has benefits as well.  Some young male sugar gliders that haven’t been neutered feel the need to mark ‘their territory’ if it smells weird to them.  You’re more likely to have this problem with scented detergents than unscented.   

What Should I Use for Sugar Glider Nesting Material?

If your sugar gliders prefer nesting over a sleeping pouch, you will need to find nesting material that meets certain criteria.  First, you don’t want anything that is hard to clean or expensive to replace of if your sugar gliders soil it or have a messy meal in their nesting box. 

Next, you want to find something that is safe for your sugar gliders.  And finally, you need something your sugar gliders actually like. 

Luckily, there are a number of things you can use that fit all of these criteria.  Many sugar glider owners opt to use clothing or other soft material such as cut up fleece.  Inspect the clothing or fleece to make sure there are no loose strings that your sugar glider could catch their claws in.

This works well as they can be easily cleaned.  Remember, you don’t want fleece scraps going down the drain, so put them in hosiery something similar so you don’t lose any scraps when you wash them.

Other materials that work well for sugar glider nesting material are fake plant leaves and cotton.  Sometimes a mixture of everything satisfies sugar gliders the best. 

Do not use wood chips or shavings for sugar glider nesting material.  Wood chips have an organic compound in them called phenol.  Phenol is something you absolutely do not want in your sugar glider’s diet as it can cause health issues.  Unfortunately, sugar gliders are likely to chew on wood chips and ingest some phenol. 

How Often Should I Change Out My Sugar Glider’s Nesting Material?

As with cleaning sugar glider pouches, you’ll usually only need to change out and clean nesting material once a week.  If your little buddies are prone to relieving themselves on the nesting material, or often make a mess with their dinner in their nesting boxes, you’ll probably want to clean and change out the nesting material more often. 

Do Sugar Gliders Hibernate?

Sugar gliders do not hibernate.  However, they can enter a state called torpor.  When sugar gliders enter torpor, their physiological activity greatly reduces.  Their body temperatures will drop as well as their metabolic rate. 

This usually happens to sugar gliders when they are in environments that aren’t as warm as they should be.  For sugar gliders, torpor can last up to 16 hours, and some sugar glider owners have even reported they thought their lovable pal was dead only to be shocked to see them wake up.

Sugar gliders will enter torpor in the wild when it gets cold or when food is scarce.  Though you shouldn’t have that problem when you keep them as pets.  Simply follow a good feeding schedule.  And make sure your sugar glider’s environment is warm enough for them and that there isn’t anyway they could accidentally become too cold. 

Remember, sugar gliders don’t have much fat to insulate them, so even falling into cool water (such as an open toilet) can send them into torpor.

Can You Change a Sugar Glider’s Sleep Schedule?

Changing a sugar glider’s sleep schedule is a subject of great debate in the sugar glider community.  The question isn’t only can you change a sugar glider’s sleep schedule, but also should you change a sugar glider’s sleep schedule?

Since sugar gliders are nocturnal, the only way to really change their sleeping schedule is to trick a sugar glider’s brains and a sugar glider’s body into thinking day and night are at different times than they really are.  This can be done with black out curtains and the correct light bulbs.

If you do try to change your sugar gliders sleeping schedule, it will have to be done gradually.  You can’t simply wake up your little buddies when you want them to be awake. 

Disturbing a sugar glider’s sleep can be a lot like disturbing a human’s or other animal’s sleep.  Your sugar glider could try to bite you, and just like when you’re not well rested, your sugar glider could be grumpy and not function at their full potential. 

When you change a sugar glider’s sleep schedule using black out curtains, you run the risk of them still seeing full day light.  If wind or something else disturbs the curtain, full light could come into the room. 

Sugar gliders have large eyes, in part to help them see really well at night.  They don’t regulate the amount of light that comes into their eyes as well as we do, so sudden exposure to the bright sun can harm sugar gliders’ eyes. 

If you’re trying to change your sugar glider’s sleeping schedule, you’ll want to keep as many other routines the same as possible.  Many sugar gliders are fed as they wake up in the evening.  Be sure to keep adjusting your lovable pal’s feeding time as you are adjusting their sleep schedule.  This will help things go smoother.

While there have not been studies done on flipping sugar gliders sleep schedules, but those studies have been done on humans.  Sleeping during the day and being up all night can have dramatic negative effects on a person’s health.    

So, can you change a sugar glider’s sleep schedule?  Yes, you can.  Should you change a sugar glider’s sleep schedule?  Probably not.

Things To Consider When Getting Sugar Gliders

We’ve talked a lot about the affects of sugar gliders being nocturnal and how that gives them unique sleeping habits.  But how does all of this affect you as their guardian?  You certainly don’t want to end up regretting getting a sugar glider (or 4)!

Do You Need to Be Quiet Around Your Sleeping Sugar Gliders?

While you won’t need to tip toe around your sleeping sugar gliders, you definitely don’t want to wake them from good rest on a regular basis.  Some sugar glider owners report that after bonding, their sugar gliders are nearly impossible to wake up.  This is probably because they feel very safe with you around them. 

However, this isn’t always the case, and naturally, not every sugar glider will bond with you so deeply.  As we discussed above when talking about changing a sugar glider’s sleep schedule, waking sugar gliders up and keeping them from regular rest can have detrimental consequences.

Keep your sugar glider cage in an area of your house that will be quiet (and with natural light in the room) so your sweet friends can have a good day’s sleep.

Will Sugar Gliders Keep You Awake at Night?

Sugar gliders make all sorts of sounds and noises, which can lead to some noisy nights.  While not all sugar gliders keep their owners up, since sugar gliders are awake all night it is possible.

To stop this, they will need something to do to.  Even though nothing is guaranteed to keep them from being vocal, there are some things you can do to help lower the amount of noise they’ll make.

It’s best for sugar gliders to have companions.  If you plan on sleeping during the night and won’t be able to entertain them, other sugar gliders help.  Of course, they may talk to each other which can also be noisy.  At least, those noises will likely be me made from fun rather than despair.

If you have the space, try keeping your sugar gliders in a room other than your bedroom.  A couple of shut doors between you and your sugar gliders will go a long way towards helping you sleep through their playing and barking.

Summary: What Are Sugar Gliders’ Sleeping Habits?  Are Sugar Gliders Nocturnal?

Owning sugar gliders can be very rewarding.  However, as you can see, sugar gliders’ sleeping habits, especially being nocturnal, present distinctive challenges. 

Setting and cleaning up the sleeping area of sugar gliders needs to be done with care.  You don’t want to expose your furry friends to anything that could hurt them.

When choosing a spot to set up your sugar gliders’ cage, you’ll need to keep in mind that you likely have an opposite sleep schedule.  You don’t want to disturb their sleep, and you don’t want them to disturb yours.  Additionally, sugar gliders will do best in a room with natural light.

And, though it may be tempting and doable, you probably shouldn’t try to change your sugar glider’s sleep schedule.  You may cause your lovable pals to have health issues.

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