The aging method used in this book is from vaginal birth, NOT from the time that they emerge from the pouch. The reason for this is that each Sugar Glider can emerge at different times and therefore is not a reliable source of age measurements. The following table related to the development of a baby Sugar Glider and is taken from Monotremes and Marsupials: A Reference For Zoological Institutions by Larry R Collins.
1 — Ear pinnae are directed forward and held against heady by epithrichium, skin unpigmented, sex not discernible.
13 — Able to tell sex.
16 — Tips of ear pinnae are free from head.
19 — Ear pinnae are completely free from head but still directed forward.
25 — Ear pinnae directed backward.
30 — Fin fur detected on muzzle, ears are lightly pigmented. (Approximately)
40 — Joey first release grip on teat. (Approximately)
60 — Joe begins protruding from pouch.
70 — Only the Joey’s head remain pushed into the pouch, Joe frequently left in nest by female and male protects them.
80 — Eyes & ears begin to open.”
Sexual maturity varies from Sugar Glider to Sugar Glider so I cannot state exactly when they come of age although it does seem to manifest around 7-15 months of age. In the wild, the sexual maturity is approximately 12 months with the females maturing first. One sign on the male that he may be ready is the appearance of the typical bald spot on the top of his head followed by a balding spot on the center of their chest. It is not difficult to breed these animals since they are communal. They live together very well and things will happen easily.
As with other marsupials the female Sugar Glider has a short gestation period. This means that approximately 16 days after conception, the babies are born and have to make their way to the mothers pouch. Once there, they will attach to a nipple for nourishments and stay for about 2-3 months. To check and see if your female has babies in her pouch, you can watch to see if her pouch starts to bag a little or look like it has a marble or two in it. It is true that you can GENTLY touch where the bulge is and see if you can feel a small lump or two (three if you are lucky) but I would recommend against it. These small bumps are most likely her new babies. If you were to pull a baby off the nipple, while you are checking, well. You most likely have lost that baby since they are unable to reattach to the nipple. Only special around the clock care May save them. For the first half of their pouch life the babies are unable to regulate their own body temperature and completely depend upon their mothers pouch to keep them warm. For this reason, you should make sure that environmental conditions are favorable for raising young Sugar Gliders.
Sometime around 2 months of pouch aged, the babies will start to work their way out of the mothers pouch a little at a time. They may start emerging with a bit of the tail or just a leg while still attached to the mother’s nipple. DO NOT attempt to pull the babies out at this time as once they are removed from the nipple they are unable to reattach themselves. Once the babies are completely out of the pouch they will cling to the parents as they move around their housing, and in about 10 days their eyes will open. At this point, if the parents are not uneasy with you, you may remove the babies from the cages for a short period of time. This will also aid the babies in becoming acclimated to the human touch. It is important that you make sure the female has a good source of water and protein available at this time since most of these items will be passed on to the baby while she is nursing.
New babies may stay with the mother and father. There is no need to separate them after the baby is out of the pouch. Males are very good daddies as they will make sure that the babies are well taken care of by sheltering or giving the babies some if its own food if they want it. Both mother and father are excellent parents and will generally take great care of the young. Make sure there is an ample amount of food as the parents can eat their young if they become hungry enough!
I should note here, that it has been documented that some female Sugar Gliders that have had only one baby in the pouch have experienced another birth and that baby has crawled in the pouch while one is already nursing. I believe this to be rare, but has happened to some Sugar Glider mothers who have had babies that are already weeks old. If this happens, do nothing extra except make sure that your are providing the mother with enough fruits/vegetables and protein. All will happen naturally and take care of itself.