Sugar gliders and flying squirrels look very similar but belong to separate families. Sugar gliders are found in Australia, while flying squirrels are native to North America. Flying squirrels also lack the pouch that sugar gliders use to shelter and protect their young. Gliders are also more vocal than their flying squirrel cousins. If adopted, gliders must be kept in pairs.
Neither sugar gliders nor flying squirrels can be house-broken. Because gliders are smell-oriented, their urine and saliva have a distinctive odor and are used to mark territory. Flying squirrels need a mixture of nuts, grain and calcium for optimum health, while sugar gliders dine on a mix of vegetables and lean proteins, usually in the form of insects. The diets of wild sugar gliders change depending on the season and habitat. Captive sugar gliders can live for up to 15 years under ideal conditions, while flying squirrels average a maximum of 10 to 12 years. Flying squirrels breed only once a year; when they are held in captivity, they often fail to do so successfully. However, sugar gliders can breed year-round either in the wild or in captivity. Sugar gliders are marsupial mammals, while flying squirrels are placental mammals.