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What is Sugar Glider Crabbing?

Sugar gliders are one of the cutest pets. They are very sociable animals and actively use sounds to communicate. But what does a sugar glider crabbing mean?

Dr. Jess explains this sugar glider noise below:

sugar glider on cuddling blanket

What is a Sugar Glider?

Sugar gliders are also commonly known as “sugar bears” and “honey gliders”.

They are a small cute animal that are kept in captivity as pocket pets.

Sugar gliders have large eyes, soft coats with a dark dorsal (back) stripe), and small triangular ears.

They are a part of the marsupial family (like kangaroos) and keep their babies (named joeys) in the female’s pouch surrounding their abdominal area.

They have a fold of skin underneath their arms that allow them to glide in the air when their arms are outstretched.

Sugar Gliders can live 5-7 years and are social animals, easily becoming depressed without friends.

Why Do Sugar Gliders ‘Crab’ in the Wild?

In the wild, sugar gliders tend to ‘crab’ as a “warning”, if a predator enters the area where their colony is currently habitating, warning other gliders of the intruder.

 You may notice that all gliders in the area after a warning noise, will freeze in place. This is because in the wild, if they don’t move, a predator is less likely to see them and eat them. 

sugar glider on tree branch


Sugar gliders have a unique sound that some people describe as a swarm of locusts, with a noise that ebbs in and out with a high pitch.

Crabbing is considered one of the most common sounds that sugar gliders make and is usually the first sounds that new sugar gliders owners hear from their new pet.

Sounding Tough:

Crabbing is just a big act where your sugar glider is trying to be a brave, tough guy, and act bigger than they really are.

It commonly occurs during the early stages of bonding between the sugar glider and new owner, while the sugar glider is scared and unsure of their new surroundings and new human.

Once a glider is well-bonded to humans, they will rarely make this sound.


The only other common time that they will make this sound is when they are suddenly startled or feel threatened by someone they don’t know.

  • Sounds: like locusts, going up and down in pitch. It is loud and can be heard across the house, and is commonly heard repeatedly.
  • Reason: fear, annoyance, warning call, cry for help or attention.
sugar glider on branch

Why Do Sugar Gliders Crab in Captivity?

People talk to communicate, dogs make noise to communicate, and sugar gliders do, too.

Expect to hear some crabbing if your sugar glider needs to communicate something startling to other sugar gliders or to you. 

Now at home, crabbing may happen when they are suddenly exposed to somebody or something that they don’t know or aren’t familiar with, such as a strange person or animal or noise and want to seem tough and brave. 

There is usually a reason why a sugar glider is crabbing.  Most coherent sugar gliders typically will not “crab” without a reason, even if it is a silly reason in our eyes, whether it is out of fear or as a warning shot.

Other Noises Sugar Gliders Make:

As discussed above, sugar gliders make quite a few common noises to communicate with you and with others.

All of the noises mean something different, and each sugar glider will be a bit different in the way that they communicate, just like all other animals.

Some of the other more common noises include:

  1. Barking
  2. Chirping/Purring
  3. Hissing

Crabbing Summary:

Sugar glider crabbing is a common noise that your sugar glider can make to help communicate with you about something alarming to them or to make themselves seem bigger, tougher, or braver in scary situations.

Crabbing sounds like locusts ebbing in waves.

If you are unsure what the sound that your sugar glider is making, ask your veterinarian.

If you are leery of your pet making the questionable noise for your vet, take a video recording of your pet making the noise to show your vet the next time that you see your veterinarian.

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