Sugar gliders are small marsupial possums that are scientifically known as Petaurus breviceps. They get their name from their love for sugary foods like nectar, and because of their ability to through the air like flying squirrels. Sugar gliders are naturally found in parts of Australia and Indonesia but can be kept in captivity as exotic pets.
Sugar gliders come in different colored coats depending on their breeding. This makes it easy to find one that you like. They are considered good pets but often need constant feeding and handling to keep them docile. They require almost the same amount of care and attention as a cat.
This article will focus on sugar gliders and their colors to help you figure out which one would be a good fit for you.
Classic Gray Sugar Gliders (Standard Gray)
This is the most common color in sugar gliders. It is also the color that they naturally occur in. These gliders have coats in different shades of gray but they all have a black/ dark brown stripe that runs from the tail to the top of the head.
They also have thick dark lines that stretch from the ear to the eye. The gene for this trait is dominant so if the classic gray sugar glider is bred with any other glider, the offspring will always have dark bars on the ears.
Standard grays can also occur in variations and can be carriers of the alleles responsible for other coat colors like the leucistic, cremeino, and platinum alleles.
Black Beauty Sugar Gliders
This is a variation of the classic gray sugar glider. They also have a gray base color but the stripe down the back is pitch black. You can also identify it by the dark circles around the eyes (some refer to it as eyeliner), the black stripes from the ear to the eye, and black knuckles.
You can also tell the black beauty from the undertones on its belly and the chin strap. Passing down these characteristics is a little tricky because they are neither dominant nor recessive but some breeders have successfully passed them down.
Black Face Black Beauties Sugar Gliders
These gliders got their name from the generally black appearance of their faces. They have no dark circles around the eyes and you can only see the noseband. The gene responsible for these black beauties is dominant, so only one parent is needed for it to appear.
Breeding two black face black beauty gliders results in a melanistic offspring but it is not advisable. This is because the offspring usually has a thin coat and tail. They also have a very high mortality rate and they die even before they are weaned.
Leucistic Sugar Gliders
Leucism is a condition that causes the animal to lack melanin on part of or all of its skin. Leucistic sugar gliders have white fur with no markings on them. Their eyes are black and the ears are translucent, almost clear.
The gene for leucism is recessive, so the only way to get an offspring that displays this trait is by breeding two sugar gliders that carry the trait.
Mosaic Sugar Gliders
The gene that causes a sugar glider to be called mosaic is neither recessive nor dominant. The gene cannot be carried by the classic gray glider but breeding it with one that has the trait gives a 50/50 chance of getting a mosaic offspring. If the offspring is not mosaic, it does not carry the gene and the only way to get a mosaic is to breed it with one.
Mosaic gliders are loved because of the randomness of their color and patterns. Most of them, however, have black and white whiskers, and sometimes they have white hands. You should also note that this trait does not affect the color of the glider. Just like the standard gray, mosaic gliders have variations.
Piebald Sugar Gliders
They are a rare variation of mosaic sugar gliders that have odd patches of fur on them. These patches are not like the ones on a mosaic and they can be big or tiny. The spots can either take up shades of black or gray but this depends on the animal’s genes.
The skin under the Piebald glider’s coat is either underneath a white section or a dark patch. The skin under the white sections has no melanin pigment but the skin under the dark patches could be pigmented or not. Some of them can have different.
A variation of this sugar glider is the Wow Piebald sugar glider. This one has considerably large patches that take the same color as the standard gray. These patches lie on white fur and this makes them an eye-catcher.
White Mosaic Gliders
As the name suggests, it has a white base color and most of them have little or no dark-colored spots. Some white mosaics have dark spots on their ears but the size and pigmentation vary from one to another.
A white mosaic closely resembles the leucistic sugar glider and there is a chance that it has leucistic genetics. It is difficult to tell these two apart especially when they are newborns but within two weeks, the white mosaic starts to get color on the ears.
Albino Sugar Gliders
Albinism causes a lack of melanin pigmentation on the sugar glider’s coat. The condition occurs when the enzyme tyrosinase is not produced or it is produced in low amounts. When it affects sugar gliders, they have white fur, little to no markings, and red eyes.
In other animals, albinism is accompanied by visual impairments like photophobia and sometimes total blindness but this has not been recorded in sugar gliders.
Getting your hands on an albino glider might be tricky since they are rarely bred. Also, the gene is recessive so you would need 2 albino parents to breed one. Unlike the black face black beauties, breeding two albinos do not pose any health threats to the offspring.
White Face Blonde Gliders
White face blondes are the most common sugar gliders you can find. They lack the black bars that run from the ear to the eye which results in them having white faces, hence the name. The gene that causes white face is dominant so pairing one with a standard gray sugar glider will give a white face blonde offspring.
The white face characteristic can be found in gliders with other coat colors. For example, a mosaic with a white face will have all the other characteristics of a mosaic sugar glider but without the thick lines from the ears to the eyes.
Cremeino Sugar Gliders
This color trait is not usually expressed in the wild and selective breeding has to be put in place to get cremeino offspring. Two cremeino alleles are required for the trait to be shown physically.
This sugar glider has a cream-colored or reddish coat. The markings and the stripe that runs from the tail to the head are usually a shade of brown or red and they have ruby red eyes.
If one parent glider carries the cremeino allele, the chances of breeding a strawberry/ red glider are higher.
Strawberry Sugar Gliders
They are also called red sugar gliders. They have red fur and garnet-colored eyes. This trait also does not occur naturally. Not a lot of research has been done about this mutation but it seems that it is a recessive gene.
In human beings, the gene that causes red hair is common in children whose parents both have red hair. The combination of genes responsible for this in sugar gliders is not yet known but if the glider is heterozygous for cremeino or albino, there’s a chance it will be a strawberry.
Platinum Sugar Gliders
The fur on a platinum sugar glide is light silver and the dorsal stripe is a light gray/taupe. The stripe on this one is not as thick as on the other sugar gliders. Like the mosaic, this glider has white paws but the color can extend to the wrists.
The platinum gene is recessive and to breed a platinum glider, you have to pair two platinum gliders or a platinum and a leucistic. Platinum sugar gliders carry the leucistic gene but leucistic gliders do not carry the platinum gene.
A sugar glider can be both mosaic and platinum. Gliders with this characteristic are called true platinum mosaics. They have a white collar and a ringtail but all the other characteristics are mosaic. However, white hands are not tell-tale signs of a true platinum mosaic since a normal platinum can also have white hands.
Ruby Platinum Sugar Gliders
This sugar glider has an all-white body and ruby red eyes. They are very rare and they are produced by breeding two recessive carriers. One parent carries the platinum and the cremeino genes and the other carries the leucistic and the cremeino genes.
It is also possible to breed them from parents that physically express one color and are heterozygous for another.
Ruby Leucistic Sugar Gliders
It is also called the double recessive glider. It is a combination of two recessive color genes that results in the offspring having solid white fur and red eyes. Here are some of the recessive combinations that can be used to achieve this trait:
Albino x leucistic: The joey will come out of the pouch fully white with garnet red eyes.
Cremeino x leucistic: Just like above, the glider comes out of the pouch with red eyes and a completely white coat.
Cremeino x platinum: The joey will come out of the pouch with a solid white coat but by the time they open their eyes, they should have a narrow diamond and a stripe that does not go past the neck will shoe. Both of these are light cream. As it gets older, the color may turn to a solid white and the diamond and the stripe will vanish.
Albino x platinum: The offspring will come out completely white with red eyes. This is similar to the albino leucistic combinations since platinum gliders carry the leucistic gene.
Cremeino x albino: the joey will come out of the pouch with red eyes and a solid white coat.
With double recessive sugar gliders, the only way to surely determine the color is by waiting until they are around 6 weeks out of the pouch.
Melanistic Sugar Gliders
The melanistic sugar glider can be said to be the opposite of the albino. This is because melanism is a condition where the skin or fur has a higher than normal concentration of melanin. This causes the sugar glider to have solid black skin but the markings take a darker shade of black.
Some breeders say the black beauties and black face black beauties have different degrees of melanism but this is opinion varies from breeder to breeder.
Caramel Sugar Gliders
They are a sub-species of the standard sugar glider. They were originally found on Merauke island in Indonesia and they were brought to the United States for the first time in 2009.
They have a light caramel-colored fur with a light gray dorsal stripe. Some of them have white hands and wrists. Compared to a classic sugar glider, their ears and hands are a little bit bigger. This results in them appearing larger than they are.
Caramel gliders have a fluffy tail that they like to keep curled but they can keep them straight if they want to. An impressive feature of the caramel glide is its ability to carry small objects with its tail.
Another feature that can help you recognize a caramel glider is its smell. They tend to have a sweeter, more sugary smell.
You might be thinking of crossing a caramel glider with a standard sugar glider but this would not be a good or viable idea. This crossing usually results in sterile male offspring and the female will give birth to more sterile males.
White Tip Sugar Gliders
This glider looks just like the classic gray glider except for the tip of the tail. It may have a few white hairs or a full-on white tail tip. To get a white tip sugar glider, both parents have to carry the trait.