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How to Travel With A Sugar Glider

Today’s topic is about whether or not you should take your Sugar Glider(s) with you on trips – and give you some tips on the best ways to travel with them. First off, let’s start with whether or not you SHOULD travel with them – or more specifically, is it better for the animal if you take it with you – or leave it at home… In making this decision, there are four basic things to look at:

  1. the length of the trip,
  2. the method by which you will be traveling,
  3. whether your destination allows pets, and
  4. if your Sugar Bear is “single” or if they have a playmate.

Let’s quickly cover these one at a time…

With regards to items #1 and #4, as we’ve mentioned in previous emails, since Sugar Glider are very social animals they can get lonely if their “family” leaves them for long periods of time – especially if they are “single” and don’t have a playmate. Therefore, if you are planning on going on an extended trip without them, you’ll just need to make sure that somebody (preferably somebody they already know and have played with before) comes over every day to feed..water..and play with them a little. Even a better alternative is simply to take their cage & supplies over that person’s home, and leave everything with them while you’re gone (making sure of course that their house has been “Sugar Bear-proofed”)… Luckily, since their cage and supplies don’t take up much space, this is often a better option than having someone drive over to your empty house for a few minutes every day. This way the Sugar Bears have “activity” around them all the time…

Whichever option you choose, when you’re planning a trip like this in advance, just have this person come over a few times beforehand and play with your Sugar Glider(s). That way, later on when you’re gone, your Sugar Bear(s) won’t be scared of them (and vice-versa :-)

The other two important considerations are HOW you are traveling (i.e. air, car, train, magic carpet, etc..) and if your final destination allows pets. With regards to flying on commercial airlines, it’s practically impossible nowadays to keep up with the ever changing rules and regulations of all the different airlines. However, it has recently come to our attention that many of them (at least for right now) just changed to no longer allowing ANY pets (other than cats/dogs) as a “carry-on”. In the past, most airlines would allow almost any small pet as a “carry-on”, just so long as it was in some sort of secure travel cage and the owners paid an extra fee (usually around $80). However, since Sugar Bears as so small and friendly, many folks would often just tuck them in their shirt and hop right on the plane to avoid “declaring” the animals and having to pay an extra fee. Then, in the remote chance they did get caught, they just claimed ignorance (“Oh, I forgot he was there” etc..) and simply paid the fee.

However, with the introduction of full body scanners, pat downs and other heavy security measures in conjunction with a variety of what seem to be “ever-growing” new regulations – this has become a much more serious issue; and we obviously cannot (and do not) suggest that anyone try to “smuggle” their animal(s) onto a commercial flight. Therefore, the best thing to do if you want to travel by air is to plan well ahead and call the airline you plan on flying with to find out their specific policies in regards to carry-on pets.

With regards to accommodations, it’s obviously important to always check ahead and make sure your final destination allows pets. Fortunately, many “chain” hotels now allow pets – especially the “extended-stay” types. In any event, the last thing you want is to get to your hotel… get “ratted out” by a cleaning person… and have to switch hotels :-) There are also several websites dedicated to pet friendly travel that lists hotels and destinations were your fuzzbutt would be welcome!

OK, with all that out of the way, let’s assume for a minute that you would prefer to take your pets with you on trips (like my family does) – and talk about the BEST way to travel with your new little “additions”…

First, regardless of whether or not you are traveling by boat, plane, train, or automobile, there are a few KEY “basic” items you will always need to take with you. They are:

  1. some sort of “travel cage”,
  2. a water bottle,
  3. a food bowl and a supply of their “Glide-R-Chow”,
  4. 4) a supply of Glide-R-Gravy
  5. some toys from their cage that they know and are familiar with,
  6. a supply of apples if your destination won’t have them readily available, and most importantly,
  7. a heat rock AND the blanket that you normally have over it.

Luckily, all these items take up very little space – especially when compared to traveling with other pets like cats or dogs – so traveling with Sugar Bears is actually pretty easy to do.

As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, we have eleven personal pet Sugar Bears in our home, and they travel with us almost everywhere. For example, we have one home in south Florida and another one in Tennessee, so to save time and energy, we just have one complete cage setup at each home. That way, we just throw all our Sugar Bears in our collapsible travel cage…hit the road for the 12 hour drive… and they’re all set to go in their new home the minute we arrive…

Now, as far as traveling with your Sugar Gliders in a car, it’s important to ALWAYS have them either in a pouch or a travel cage. It’s almost never a good idea to let a Sugar Bear run “free” in a car, because there are just too many inaccessible places they can innocently “explore’ (like under a dashboard) where they might not be able to find their way back out. Also, a jumping Sugar Bear – or a playful Sugar Bear suddenly hiding under the gas pedal – can create a hazardous situation pretty quickly; so when you have them in a car – especially at night when they are active – just always make sure they are in a sealable pouch or cage :-)

Now, with regards to “travel cages”, here are a couple considerations and suggestions based on our past experience. First, if the actual “traveling” part of your trip is only going to be a few hours – and you’re not traveling at night when they need to get out and stretch their little “wings” – a bonding pouch (with an apple slice in it of course) is usually just fine. However, if you are going to be on the road for a long amount of time – or traveling during the active, evening hours – you will want to put them in some sort of larger travel “cage” where they can move around more. With that in mind, the cage we use in our family is just the same collapsible PVC travel cage that is sold on our website. We ONLY use this cage for the following five reasons…

  1. it is made of the same PVC-coated wire that is used in our starter cages. This way we KNOW the cage is SAFE, strong, and FAMILIAR to our Sugar Bears.
  2. It sets up and tears down in LESS than a minute. (To see a short video demonstration of how it works, just check out our online store.
  3. It has special spring-loaded latches that guarantee it stays closed even if it gets bounced around during the trip.
  4. It has a convenient “poo tray” that is easily removed – which separates our little darlings from their “droppings”. All we do is line it with paper towel, and we’re good-to-go :-)
  5. It is already made to perfectly fit all the important SUPPLIES that need to be in their cage (ie. food bowl, water, bottle, heat rock, etc…), and

Oh, one more word on heat rocks while traveling. If you are going to be traveling in a cold climate, the best thing to do is just get one of those inexpensive little plug-in “converters” that allow you to plug a normal appliance into your cigarette lighter. Since the heat rock doesn’t take much electricity, it works just fine and you won’t have to worry about your baby(ies) getting cold on the trip. Also, if you are in an area that is prone to power outages, you will want to get a “battery backup” system (just like the kind used for computers) to make sure your little buddy(ies) stay warm in case of a blackout. Any office supply store – or even Wal-Mart – carries these battery backups, and most will last for HOURS since the heat rock itself doesn’t draw much electricity. :-)

Also, the reason you want to bring along their UNWASHED heat-rock blanket – and toys they already know – is simply that will recognize the SMELL of these items and they will make your baby(ies) feel more “at home” :-)

With all that said, about the only thing left to cover is whether you should let your Sugar Bear(s) out to play in their new environment (i.e. hotel room, etc..) The short answer to this is “maybe, but always err on the side of caution”… As long as you take a quick walk around and “Sugar Bear proof” the room ahead of time (as covered in a previous email) – making sure there are no vents or hidden places where they can get permanently lost – it’s probably ok. However, ALWAYS err on the side of caution if in doubt. Also, don’t forget to close the toilet lids before you let them out. Remember they’re called “Sugar Bears” – and not Sugar “Swimmers” for a REASON :-) Well, that’s about it for now. This is kind of a hard topic to cover thoroughly because there are just SO many variables you can encounter while traveling – so if you are planning a trip – and have specific questions for us, don’t hesitate for a SECOND to drop us an email. Like I said, we travel with our Sugar Bears all the time – and it can be a LOT of fun once you have all the “basics” down..

We’ll be happy to give you the best advice we can based on our experience!