Sexual Development of Sugar Gliders

Once you have made the decision to become a breeder, you will need to have a sound understanding of the sexual development of sugar gliders. Sugar gliders develop at different rates, but generally become sexually mature at about one year old. 

For females, sexual maturity can occur between five and eighteen months old. In females, there are no obvious physical manifestations to let you know that she has reached maturity. Therefore, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If she is housed with a mature, intact male, assume that she can become impregnated at any time once she is about five months old. For her health, it is best if she is not able to breed until she is at least 10-12 months old. Younger females that become impregnated have a higher risk of joey rejection and/or cannibalization - she is just not mature enough to handle the responsibility of having joeys. Another problem with them breeding before 9 months out of pouch is that their bodies are still growing and they are still needing nutrients to help their bodies grow in a healthy manner. However, if they are breeding then they are producing milk to feed their joeys which robs their bodies of the nutrients needed for proper development which can lead to Hind Leg Paralysis or other nutritive imbalance problems. If you do not want her to become pregnant, it is best to either separate her from any mature, intact males once she is four months old or to have the male neutered.

Some people have argued that owners should just "allow nature to take its course" and not worry about how old a female is before being allowed to breed. While this seems to be a good theory, it is just not really wise. If you think about it, simply by having gliders in captivity we have altered "nature's course". In the wild, gliders have a breeding season which only lasts for about 3 months once a year. This is due to environmental factors including weather and food availability. So, in the wild, a joey from one year's breeding cycle wouldn't be able to breed until it is at least 9 months out of pouch. However, in captivity, the "weather" and food conditions are at a constant, so we have gliders breeding year-round (up to four times per year). Since we have created an unnatural environment for them, we need to take other measures to prevent them from breeding too young. 

Females can have offspring from the time they become mature until they are about eight years old. There have been some documented cases of females still having joeys at 11 years old. 


For males, sexual maturity can occur between three and twelve months old. In males, the indications as to when sexual maturity has been achieved are fairly obvious. As a male matures, he will develop scent glands that appear as bald spots on the center of his forehead and at the center of his chest. In addition, the scrotal sac will drop and hang about a centimeter down from his abdomen. Neutering a male before he becomes mature will prevent the scent glands from developing*. If he is neutered after he has already become mature, his scent glands will gradually diminish until they are no longer visible at all, unless the neuter is done "pom on", in which case, they will resorb some, but not completely. Intact males can mate and produce offspring throughout their entire lifespan once they have reached sexual maturity.

*Please note that the scrotal sac must be dropped away from the male's abdomen before neutering can effectively occur - usually by about 4 months o.o.p.. Otherwise, it is possible that the testicles will not have dropped into the sac yet.

For males, sexual maturity can occur between three and twelve months old. In males, the indications as to when sexual maturity has been achieved are fairly obvious. As a male matures, he will develop scent glands that appear as bald spots on the center of his forehead and at the center of his chest. In addition, the scrotal sac will drop and hang about a centimeter down from his abdomen. Neutering a male before he becomes mature will prevent the scent glands from developing*. If he is neutered after he has already become mature, his scent glands will gradually diminish until they are no longer visible at all, unless the neuter is done "pom on", in which case, they will resorb some, but not completely. Intact males can mate and produce offspring throughout their entire lifespan once they have reached sexual maturity.

*Please note that the scrotal sac must be dropped away from the male's abdomen before neutering can effectively occur - usually by about 4 months o.o.p.. Otherwise, it is possible that the testicles will not have dropped into the sac yet.

Site most recently updated in October, 2016