Sugar gliders are exotic marsupial pets that have become increasingly popular over the last few decades. With their big eyes, sweet dispositions, and ability to glide through the air, it’s no wonder these adorable critters have won the hearts of so many owners.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Sugar gliders can get wet, but too much moisture can lead to health issues, so exposure should be limited. Their thick fur helps repel some water, but it’s still best to keep them dry.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sugar gliders and water. We’ll discuss their natural habits in the wild, potential health risks of getting wet, tips for bathing and grooming, and more. We’ll also answer common questions like:

Do Sugar Gliders Get Wet in the Wild?

Native Habitat and Behaviors

In the wild, sugar gliders are native to the forests and woodlands of Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. As primarily arboreal animals, they spend most of their time high up in the trees. Their habitat tends to be warm and humid, especially in the tropical and subtropical forests of their range.

Sugar gliders are well adapted to climbing and gliding through the canopy. With membranes between their front and hind legs that allow them to glide up to 50 meters between trees, sugar gliders can avoid descending all the way to the forest floor where predators lurk.

Their dexterous hands and feet also help them grip branches and quickly scamper up tree trunks.

Although sugar gliders are adept at staying off the ground, they do get wet in their natural habitat when it rains. Most of the forests where sugar gliders live experience frequent rainfall. In parts of tropical Queensland, sugar gliders may encounter over 120 inches of rain per year.

When it rains, sugar gliders take shelter in tree hollows and dens lined with leaves and branches. However, they still get damp while out foraging at night. Their dense, water-resistant fur helps repel some moisture when they get wet. Under layers of fur keep their skin dry.

Grooming and Bathing Habits

Sugar gliders are fastidiously clean animals. They groom themselves frequently, using their teeth and claws to scratch, clean, and maintain their coats.

In the wild, sugar gliders will take advantage of natural water sources to help clean themselves. If pools or droplets of water collect in tree hollows or branches, wild sugar gliders may take the opportunity to bathe.

The occassional rainshower also provides a way for sugar gliders to rinse off dirt and grime.

However, sugar gliders in the wild don’t purposefully get soaked. Bathing isn’t a regular part of their behavior, since excessive water can compromise the insulating properties of their fur. But when the opportunity arises, they will bathe briefly to clean their coats before quickly drying off.

Comparatively, pet sugar gliders in captivity are more prone to full-body bathing. When given a shallow dish of water, pet sugar gliders seem to enjoy periodically splashing around and getting fully wet before accepting a towel dry from their owners.

Health Risks of Sugar Gliders Getting Wet


Sugar gliders are susceptible to hypothermia if they get wet, as their small size makes it difficult for them to retain body heat (The Spruce Pets). Their body temperature can quickly drop below 95°F, leading to lethargy, shivering, and even death if not warmed up promptly.

To prevent hypothermia, it’s critical to dry off wet sugar gliders immediately with a towel and use a heating pad or other warm enclosure to raise their body temperature back to a healthy 98-100°F range.

Skin Irritation and Infection

Wet fur can also cause skin irritation and infections for sugar gliders. Damp fur stays clinging to their skin, creating a moist environment perfect for fungal or bacterial growth. This can lead to issues like rashes, hot spots, and ringworm if not carefully monitored and treated.

Keeping their enclosure clean and dry is key to avoiding these painful skin conditions. Signs to watch for include excessive scratching, redness, scabs, and hair loss.


Getting wet can also stress out these sensitive marsupials. Sugar gliders prefer warm, dry environments and can get anxious when wet, cold, or unable to properly groom themselves. This stress can suppress their immune system and make them more prone to illness.

It’s important to gently dry them off and provide extra nesting material so they can comfort themselves. Some signs of stress include pacing, overgrooming, and loss of appetite.

Bathing and Grooming Pet Sugar Gliders

How Often to Bathe

Sugar gliders are fastidiously clean animals that groom themselves multiple times a day, similar to cats. They don’t need frequent bathing like dogs. In fact, bathing them too often can dry out their skin and fur. As a general rule, only bathe your sugar glider if they get especially dirty or smelly.

Plan to bathe your sugar glider every 2-3 months. You may need to bathe them more frequently during seasonal sheds when they lose old fur. Examine their coat regularly. If the fur looks greasy, matted, or dirty, it’s time for a bath.

Bathing Tips and Tricks

Here are some useful tips for washing your sugar glider:

  • Use a shallow basin or sink filled with just enough warm water to wet their fur. Deeper water can be stressful.
  • Choose a mild shampoo made for small animals. Human shampoo can dry out their sensitive skin.
  • Work the shampoo gently into their fur, avoiding their eyes, ears, and nose.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo residue.
  • Dry carefully with a soft towel. Be gentle, as their skin is delicate.
  • Use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting to speed drying if needed.

Bathing bonding time for you and your sugar glider. Go slowly and offer treats after to reassure them everything is okay. Over time, they may even enjoy their baths!

Grooming Their Fur

In addition to occasional baths, sugar gliders need regular grooming to keep their coat looking its best. Here are some grooming tips:

  • Brush their fur once or twice a week using a soft bristle brush made for small pets.
  • Gently work out any mats or tangles in their fur as these can be uncomfortable.
  • Trim their nails every 4-6 weeks to prevent overgrowth and injury.
  • Check their ears weekly for dirt; clean gently with a cotton ball if needed.
  • Provide wooden chew toys to help file down teeth and massage gums.

Proper grooming prevents skin irritation, reduces shedding, and allows you to monitor your sugar glider’s health. It also reinforces the bond between you and your exotic pocket pet!

Keeping Their Cage Dry

Cage Location

Sugar gliders are native to the warm, humid climate of Australia and New Guinea, so keeping the humidity in their cage stable is important. The best place to keep a sugar glider cage is in a room with a relatively stable temperature between 65-75°F.

Avoid drafty areas or places with direct sunlight which could cause the cage to overheat. Kitchens and bathrooms should also be avoided due to the spikes in humidity when cooking or showering.

Make sure the cage is not placed directly on a cold floor, especially in the winter. Elevate the cage on a stand or table to prevent chilling drafts. You can place a heating pad under half the cage during colder months to give them a warm area to snuggle into if needed.

Litter Options

The bedding or litter used in a sugar glider’s cage can also affect humidity levels. Avoid letting the cage get too damp, as this can lead to bacterial growth. Some good odor-controlling litters that don’t hold too much moisture are:

  • Aspen shavings
  • Recycled paper bedding
  • Pelleted newspaper litter

Cedar and pine shavings should not be used, as they contain oils that can be toxic to small animals. Likewise, clumping clay litters contain ingredients that can be harmful if ingested. Spot clean the cage daily and fully replace the litter weekly to keep odors at bay.

Humidity Control

Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity inside the cage, which should stay between 30-50%. If it creeps above 50%, take steps to lower it by:

  • Removing damp litter
  • Using additional bedding
  • Using a dehumidifier in the room
  • Increasing ventilation

Adding a small computer fan to circulate air in the cage can also help. Make sure the fan is securely fastened so curious paws don’t get caught. Keeping their cage clean, dry and draft-free will help keep your sugar gliders comfortable in their habitat.

Can Sugar Gliders Swim?

Sugar gliders are amazing little marsupials, but their small size and biology make swimming a challenge. Here’s what you need to know about whether sugar gliders can swim.

Sugar Gliders Lack Webbing Between Toes

Most strong swimmers like otters and ducks have webbed feet or toes to propel them through the water. Sugar gliders lack this webbing between their toes that would aid in swimming. Their toes are quite small and not designed for paddling or swimming strokes.

Their Body Density Makes Staying Afloat Difficult

Another biological factor is that sugar gliders have a very high body density, with a large percentage of their weight coming from muscle and bone. This makes staying afloat a real struggle. Unlike many other animals adapted for swimming, sugar gliders lack the fatty tissues or air pockets that provide buoyancy in water.

Risk of Water-Related Stress and Illness

Immersion in water is very stressful for sugar gliders. Their thick fur coat tends to get waterlogged, making movement difficult. Swimming places severe strain on their small body and rapid onset of exhaustion can lead to drowning.

Prolonged exposure to water can also lower a sugar glider’s body temperature quickly, resulting in life-threatening hypothermia.

Instances of Sugar Gliders Swimming are Rare

While sugar gliders are very agile climbers and leapers, instances of them voluntarily swimming are extremely rare. Wild sugar gliders avoid bodies of water and captive sugar gliders show great distress when introduced to water or rain.

There are isolated reports of captive sugar gliders accidentally falling into pools and managing to dog paddle to safety very briefly, but this is uncommon.

Steps to Keep Sugar Gliders Safe Near Water

Since swimming comes unnaturally to sugar gliders, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid bathing or immersing your sugar glider in water
  • Supervise closely if allowing them near sources of water
  • Don’t place their cages or enclosures near pools, tubs, sinks or other water hazards
  • Dry them immediately if they get soaked from rain or accidents
  • Don’t attempt to train them to swim as this causes unnecessary stress

While sugar gliders are incredibly agile, swimming is one activity not well-suited for these adorable marsupials. With proper precautions, it’s easy to keep our sugar glider friends safe, warm and dry.

Are Sugar Gliders Allowed in the Rain?

Sugar gliders are adorable little marsupials that make great pets for the right owners. However, their small size does make them more sensitive to environmental factors like getting wet. So what happens if your sugar glider gets stuck in the rain?

Can these tiny critters withstand a little moisture, or do they need to stay dry at all times?

Sugar Gliders Have Natural Weather Resistance

Fortunately, sugar gliders do have some natural weather resistance thanks to their thick fur coats. In the wild, sugar gliders live in the treetops of Australian forests where they can be exposed to rain showers regularly. Their dense fur helps repel moisture and keeps them warm.

As pets though, owners should still take precautions to keep sugar gliders out of the rain. Extended exposure can lead to them getting chilled, stressed or even sick. But brief encounters with moisture generally won’t cause immediate harm.

Steps if Your Sugar Glider Gets Wet

If your sugar glider does get stuck in the rain or manages to fall into a sink or toilet, take these steps:

  • Gently dry them off with a soft towel
  • Blow dry their fur on a low, cool setting if still damp
  • Give them nesting material to burrow into
  • Make sure their cage stays above 65°F until completely dry

It’s also a good idea to call your exotic vet for advice in case your pet seems stressed or lethargic after their damp adventure.

Precautions for Wet Weather

While healthy sugar gliders can withstand occasional moisture, it’s still best to keep them out of the rain. Here are some tips:

  • Bring their outdoor playpen inside if thunderstorms are forecasted
  • Towel dry their feet and belly if moisture collects after playtime
  • Check for drafts, leaks or puddles around their cage
  • Make sure their nest box contains adequate, dry bedding
  • Keep a mini heating pad or lamp on standby

With proper care and precautions, pet sugar gliders can enjoy happy, healthy lives even in wet climates. Just be watchful of exposure risk, keep their habitat cozy, and towel them off after rain adventures.


While sugar gliders are adapted to occasional moisture in their native Australia, pet gliders are safest when kept warm and dry. Limiting exposure to water reduces health risks. With proper precautions for bathing, grooming, and cage setup, you can help keep your sugar glider happy and healthy.

By understanding sugar gliders’ relationship with water and moisture, you can be a responsible, informed owner. A few simple tips will go a long way in protecting your exotic marsupial pal.

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