The Beautiful Colors of Sugar Gliders
Our sugar gliders range in colors from the standard grey and white to marvelous mosaics. All are beautiful in their own way – it is just a matter of preference on the owner’s part. No matter the color, they are all healthy and friendly pets who will make you fall in love once you have them in your home. You’ll find a more in-depth description of the various colors that TPG has to offer below:
Albino- An Albino sugar glider is one that lacks some or all pigmentation. It has white fur, or very faint markings, and red to dark burgundy eyes. Albinism is caused by a mutation in one of the genes that produces melanin. This results in a complete or partial absence of the enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments in the skin, hair and eyes (1). In humans, Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus, and amblyopia (2). However, this phenomenon is not studied or followed in the general sugar glider population. This is a very rare color in Sugar Gliders and the genotype is recessive in nature, thus an albino sugar glider must possess two albino alleles to be phenotypically shown. The Pet Glider has raised many albinos, in good health, to old age. Happily, we have not observed any negative health issues related to albinism in sugar gliders.
Black Face Black Beauties- Black Face Black Beauties, (commonly called BFBB in the Sugar Glider community), have an overall “black face”. They lack eye rings around the eyes, and only the nose band is visible. The lack of eye rings, as well as the overall darkness of the face and body, is what gives off the “black face” look! The whole face may appear dark or the area around the eyes very light in contrast to a very dark face. To display the BFBB phenotypically (the color they look physically), a glider needs only one allele from one parent. Considering that, breeding BFBB X BFBB can result in a melanistic glider, if the joey inherits two BFBB alleles. Melanism (derived from the Greek: μελανός (“black pigment”) (2)) is a development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism. Many melanistic babies have died before weaning (approx. 8 weeks old). Most have very thin tails and then coat. The cause is unknown. Because of infant mortality and an unhealthy look, it is unwise to breed BFBB to BFBB. Best practice is to breed the BFBB sugar glider to black beauties who are not related to any BFBB. They should be out crossed 6-8 generations. After being bred out with new blood, 6-8 generations, it is thought that they can then be safely bred back to a BFBB who is also bred out multiple generations.
Black Beauties– Black Beauties have varying degrees of dark charcoal markings. They usually have black knuckles, and some will have a dark belly as opposed to the white belly. Black beauty(BB) seems to run in families, but is neither dominant or recessive. However, when pairing a BB with a BB it is more frequent that the offspring will themselves be Black Beauties than classic gray. Black Beauties can be seen on many different colored sugar gliders. Classic gray pairings have had Black Beauty offspring, although usually not as dark as when selectively breeding for this trait. It is common to breed a BB X BFBB when desiring BB and BFBB offspring. This pairing reduces the risk of producing melanistic offspring.
Caramel: Caramels (Petaurus Breviceps Flavidus) are a different sub-species from the Petaurus Breviceps our “standard-classic” Sugar Gliders. They come from Merauke on the island Irian Jaya in Indonesia and were imported to the United States in 2009. They have a light caramel color to a light gray stripe and slightly larger ears and hands to give an overall slightly larger appearance. Some have white hands and white wrists, and their tails are usually very fluffy and generally held in a curled position (although they can straighten them as well). They can carry small objects with their tails. All our caramel gliders at The Pet Glider are 100% pure caramel, meaning that they are not crossed with the other species. (9). Caramels also tend to have a different scent than the regular gliders, they smell slightly sweeter! Caramel sugar gliders should not be crossed with our standard sugar gliders, Petaurus Breviceps. This crossing of species causes the male offspring to be sterile and the female offspring will produce more sterile males.
Leucistic– Leucistic sugar gliders have white fur with black eyes. They also have very clear, or translucent, ears. This color is either completely displayed, or not present. In other words, two alleles must be present for this recessive gene to be phenotypically (physically) displayed. Example: Breeding any 100% LEUCISTIC HET (heterozygous) to another 100% LEUCISTIC HET (heterozygous) can produce Leucistic offspring (LEU + LEU alleles).
Leucism is a general term for the phenotype resulting from defects in pigment cell differentiation and/or migration from the neural crest to skin, hair, or feathers during development. This results in either the entire surface (if all pigment cells fail to develop) or patches of body surface (if only a subset are defective) having a lack of cells capable of making pigment (3).
Piebald- Piebald colorations are mosaic sugar gliders that have an unusual patch (or patches) of fur on their body. These patches are usually expresses as classic coloration on a mosaic sugar glider. These are in direct contrast to the mosaic coloring of the sugar glider, and can be large or very small. The spots are pigmented in shades of black or gray as determined by the genotype controlling the color of the animal. The animal’s skin underneath its coat may or may not be pigmented under the spots but the skin in the white background is not pigmented (4).
Location of the pigmented spots is dependent on the migration of Melan oblasts (primordial pigment cells) from the neural crest to paired bilateral locations in the skin of the early embryo. The resulting pattern appears symmetrical only if Melan oblasts migrate to both locations of a pair and proliferate to the same degree in both locations (4). Piebaldism in Sugar Gliders is quite rare. Most Piebald’s have smaller spots or less distinctive markings. A “Wow” piebald, is a Sugar Glider with extremely distinctive large patches of normal classic coloring in direct contrast to white mosaic fur. These are extremely rare and seeing one in person makes you go “WOW”. Famous WOW Piebald’s born at The Pet Glider are: Patches (5), Damon (11), and Polka Dot (10), Kaleidoscope 6), Corkey (12), Collin (13), Spec-tacular (14) and more. Breeding gliders from a Piebald family can result in WOW pies.
Red or Strawberry- Red sugar gliders have reddish (or strawberry) toned fur. This is a trait and is very uncommon. Red sugar gliders can also have garnet eyes. This mutation in sugar gliders has not been studied as extensively as other colors but does seem to be a recessive trait in which two alleles must be present to be shown phenotypically on the animal. In humans, red hair occurs naturally in 1–2% of the human population. It occurs more frequently (2–6%) in people of northern or western European ancestry, and less frequently in other populations. Red hair appears most commonly in people with two copies of a recessive allele on chromosome 16 which produces an altered version of the MC1R protein (7). In sugar gliders red can be the result of that sugar glider being heterozygous for cremeino, het for albino, or a combination of genes.
Classic Coloring– Classic colored sugar gliders are gray with a black dorsal stripe. The under belly is usually white. Their coloring is striking and a favorite to many. Also called the “wild type” or “standard”, it the most common color of a sugar glider in various shades of grey, black and white. This is the most common phenotype of sugar gliders. Classic sugar gliders may be recessive carriers of either leucistic, cremeino, platinum or albino alleles. The percentage is based off the parentage. For example: a classic grey sugar glider with a parent who is cremeino and one who is classic grey, is 100% HET for cremeino. That sugar glider would be a classic colored, 100% HET for cremeino. The parents could also produce either classic or cremeino joeys. Classics can carry multiple color genetics and are an ideal candidate for breeding or for pets.
Cremeino– A sugar glider with a cream colored or reddish crème colored fur, brown to red dorsal stripe & markings, and deep ruby eyes. Cremeinos were bred selectively by Flying Fur Ranch (no longer in business). Gliders with a certain look were bred together and cremeinos began to be reproduced. This color does not appear in the wild and is a recessive gene. To show phenotypically a glider must have two cremeino alleles. Having Cremeino in the background will increase the odds of producing a red or strawberry glider.
Mosaic– Mosaic sugar gliders come in endless patterns, showing different amounts of white pigment on their bodies. The patterns and color are random, but that just makes them more unique! Mosaicism, involves the presence of two or more populations of cells with different genotypes in one individual, who has developed from a single fertilized egg (8). In sugar gliders, mosaicism is either present or is not present. It is co-dominant and can never be recessive or heterozygous. For example: a mosaic parent and a classic grey parent have a 50% chance of producing a mosaic offspring and a 50% chance of producing a classic colored offspring. Classic colored joeys cannot be “carriers” of the mosaic gene. Mosaic sugar gliders can also be mosaic and leucistic at the same time called a mocistic. A Mosaic sugar glider can be mosaic and cremeino at the same time called a cremeino mosaic.
Platinum– Platinum sugar gliders have a light silver (powdered) body with a light dorsal stripe and markings. The three original lines of platinum’s are Haley, Silverbelle and Chance platinum. To breed a platinum sugar glider, the joey must have two platinum allele, or one platinum and one leucistic allele, to display phenotypically. EX (PLAT, LEU alleles) (PLAT, PLAT alleles) (this second combination is much rarer and can be referred to as a super platinum). Platinum’s can carry the Leucitic gene, but Leucitics do not carry the Platinum gene. Platinum sugar gliders can be both the mosaic and platinum at the same time, making them True Platinum Mosaics (called TPM). Typically, but not always, a TPM has a white “flash” mosaic marking on its neck and a white or ring tail.
Ruby Leu – A Ruby Leucistic is a Leucistic and a cremeino sugar glider, (all white body) with red eyes. It is produced by both parents carrying the leucitic and cremeino genes (or the parents can be one of those colors and be heterozygous for the other color). A ruby Leucistic gets its coat color from two Leucistic alleles (one from each parent), and its eye color from either two Cremeino alleles (one from each parent). These are very rare sugar gliders and have been bred recessive to recessive to produce this trait.
Ruby Plat – The Ruby Platinum will be solid white with red eyes! These are very rare sugar gliders and have been bred recessive to recessive to produce this trait. This color is produced by one parent carrying the platinum gene and the cremeino gene, and the other parent carrying the leucitic and cremeino gene. Or the parents can be phenotype for one of the colors and heterozygous for the other color.
White Face Blonde– White Face Blondes refers to the lack of a black bar marking that is normally seen under the ears of the standard/classic, sugar gliders face. This gives them the “white face” look. The white-faced blonde is the second most common coat coloration in the sugar glider world. If you pair a classic colored sugar glider to a white-faced blonde you will get both white faced blonde and classic colored sugar gliders. White face blonde is a color trait that can be seen, or exist but hidden, in other colored gliders. Such as a Cremeino with a white face, a Platinum with a face, Mosaic with white face, a leucistic with a hidden white face, etc., they all lack the dark bar marking under the ears.