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Sugar Gliders: How to Select a Sugar Glider Breeder
It is important to choose a sugar glider breeder carefully. A breeder should be able to tell you a lot about the particular glider(s) you're interested in (lineage and genetics, any health issues, etc.). Most breeders will also be able to answer any questions you have after you bring your sugar glider home, which is very important if you are new to sugar gliders! Sugar gliders are wonderful pets, but they have specific needs that are different from other pets.
Before you buy a sugar glider from a breeder you find on the internet, read their website and ask others about their experiences with this breeder. (Ask questions in sugar glider forums such as those on the glidercentral.net website.) The majority of breeders you will find on the internet are wonderful people, concerned with raising quality, healthy sugar gliders. But there are some sugar glider "breeders" on the internet who spread misinformation about what is required to keep a healthy, happy sugar glider. Their general attitude indicates that sugar gliders are simply a commodity.
If you see a breeder offering sugar gliders extremely cheaply (less than $100), it is a probable sign of a sugar glider "mill". Additionally, be skeptical of a breeder who imports and/or breeds everything from anteaters to penguins to tigers. Those breeders do not specialize in sugar gliders and probably do not fully understand the species and its needs. They are more likely to sell you a sick or inappropriate sugar glider. Choose a well-run breeding facility whose first concern is raising quality, healthy sugar gliders.
If at all possible, avoid buying your sugar glider from a pet store, where impulse buys are encouraged. The same goes for trade shows and flea markets. Buying a sugar glider should be a carefully-considered action. Frankly, many of the sugar gliders at pet stores come from "sugar glider mills". And bear in mind that the minimum-wage help at most pet stores will be unable to answer your questions about caring for your new sugar glider.
Whenever possible, choose a local breeder. That way, you can visit the breeder's facility to interact with the sugar gliders before you buy. Also, by buying locally, you avoid having to have the sugar glider shipped. Transportation and shipping are stressful for any animal, and sugar gliders are no exception. That said, there are reputable breeders who are very skilled at shipping sugar gliders, so if you cannot locate a local breeder, contact an out-of-state breeder.
You can find a list of sugar glider breeders who are also members of the International Sugar Glider Association (ISGA) on the ISGA website. You may not want to necessarily restrict your search to breeders who are ISGA members, but that is a good place to start. Additionally, entering the search term "sugar glider breeder" into Google's or Yahoo's search box will yield the names and contact information for many breeders.
Regardless of which sugar glider breeder you decide to contact, there are a number of important questions to ask:
How long have you been breeding sugar gliders?
Do you have the proper license(s) to breed and sell sugar gliders?
Do you have references and/or testimonials from other people who have bought sugar gliders from you? (Be sure to go ahead and check those references!)
Will you be willing to take my phone calls and/or emails regarding questions I have, once the sugar glider is in my home?
Do you have a health guarantee? How long is it? Can I have that guarantee in writing?
Do you guarantee your sugar gliders' ability to breed (only important if you are planning to breed them, too)? Can I have that guarantee in writing?
Do you handle your joeys (baby sugar gliders) a lot once they are out-of-pouch? How much time do they spend interacting with humans?
Was this sugar glider permitted to leave the pouch naturally, or was he removed from his mother's pouch early? (It is always best to leave joeys in the pouch until they are ready to leave, unless Mom is sick or deceased.)
You should also expect that a breeder will have a lot of questions to ask you! If the breeder does not ask you questions, it could be a sign that he or she is only interested in making quick money, not in providing proper, loving homes for their sugar gliders. A breeder may ask you:
Why do you want to buy a sugar glider?
Have you considered all the pros and cons of a sugar glider? (They should be able to tell you the pros and cons.)
Are you willing to make the time commitment that a sugar glider requires?
Are you willing to love and take care of this pet for up to 15 years?
What kind of housing/cage are you going to provide?
Are you willing and financially able to provide veterinary care?
Are there small children in your household, and if so, how will be they be supervised around the sugar glider?
Are there other pets in your household? What preparations have you made to insure the sugar glider will be safe from these pets?
What kind of food are you going to provide for your sugar glider?
All in all, the search for the perfect sugar glider for you and your family should be deliberate and carefully-considered. Remember, sugar gliders can live for up to 15 years in captivity, so it is worth your while to buy a healthy glider from a breeder you can contact in the future.
Miles Fowler is the author of Sugar Gliders: The Ultimate Guide, a comprehensive and authoritative book for both novice and experienced sugar glider owners. Learn more at:http://www.sugargliderauthority.com
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