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January 10, 2024 by Umair Shahid

Sugar gliders, tiny possums that fit in the palm of your hand, originally hail from Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Recently, they’ve stirred up some controversy in Pennsylvania due to the ongoing debate about whether they should be allowed as pets. These small, nocturnal marsupials, famous for their airborne gliding skills, have found homes in various states as companions. 

However, Pennsylvania stands out with its ongoing debate on the legal status of owning sugar gliders. The state’s laws have been back and forth, with attempts to make sugar gliders legal pets facing resistance. 

The main worry revolves around the potential harm to the local ecosystem if these exotic pets were to escape and form a wild population. Despite these concerns, many residents of Pennsylvania persist in advocating for their right to have these captivating and distinctive creatures as pets.

Are sugar gliders illegal in Pennsylvania

 Legality of Sugar Gliders in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania strictly prohibits keeping sugar gliders as pets, citing worries about potential ecological disruption if these small marsupials were to escape and form a wild population. In 2017, Representative David Zimmerman attempted to change this by proposing a bill to legalize sugar gliders as pets. 

His argument centered on the belief that these creatures wouldn’t thrive in Pennsylvania’s wild environment and, consequently, wouldn’t pose a threat. However, the bill faced opposition, primarily due to concerns about the possibility of owners abandoning sugar gliders, leading to their presence in shelters. Despite these debates, Pennsylvania maintains its stance, and sugar gliders are still considered illegal as pets in the state.

Historical Perspective on the Legality of Sugar Gliders in Pennsylvania

Sugar gliders have faced a ban in Pennsylvania for an extended period, prompting several endeavors to alter their legal standing. Back in 2014, House Bill 575 aimed to reevaluate the classification of “exotic animals,” seeking to legalize sugar gliders, yet it met with legislative resistance. 

The years 2015 and 2016 witnessed no alterations in the legal status of sugar gliders. In 2017, Representative David Zimmerman took a shot at changing the situation by introducing a bill advocating for the legalization of sugar gliders, but it, too, faced defeat. 

A subsequent attempt in 2018, aimed at legalizing sugar gliders, was rebuffed by the state House of Representatives. The years 2019 through 2021 maintained the unaltered legal status of sugar gliders in Pennsylvania. 

Despite these setbacks, persistent advocacy from many Pennsylvanians is evident, manifested through ongoing petitions and public discussions pushing for the legalization of sugar gliders.

Current Status of Sugar Gliders in Pennsylvania (2023)

As of 2023, sugar gliders remain prohibited as pets in Pennsylvania, and the state does not grant permits for private individuals to possess these marsupials.

Sugar Gliders in Philadelphia and Other Parts of Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, encompassing areas like Philadelphia and beyond, sugar gliders are deemed unlawful as pets. This stems from apprehensions regarding the potential consequences on the local ecosystem if these marsupials were to escape and establish a wild population. 

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Despite persistent discussions and legislative endeavors to alter their legal standing, sugar gliders remain proscribed for “import, possess, sell, offer for sale or release” in Pennsylvania. 

It’s crucial to emphasize that while some sources suggest the necessity of permits for legal ownership of sugar gliders in Pennsylvania, the state presently refrains from issuing or renewing these permits. Consequently, having a sugar glider as a pet in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, is presently against the law.

Owning Sugar Gliders in Pennsylvania

Possessing sugar gliders in Pennsylvania poses numerous difficulties due to their prohibited status in the state. Those who try to own sugar gliders without the necessary permits may encounter potential consequences, such as fines and the confiscation of the animals. 

The challenge of having sugar gliders in Pennsylvania is exacerbated by the state’s stance of not issuing or renewing permits for private individuals to own these exotic pets.

Despite continuous discussions and legislative efforts to alter their legal standing, sugar gliders persist as illicit pets in Pennsylvania, creating hurdles for residents seeking to own and nurture these distinctive creatures lawfully.

Where to Get Sugar Gliders in Pennsylvania

At present, owning sugar gliders in Pennsylvania, even through purchase from breeders, is against the law. Despite this, some online platforms and breeders still advertise sugar gliders for sale within the state. It’s important to note that engaging in such transactions may expose buyers to potential legal ramifications, leading to penalties for the illegal possession of these animals. 

While there have been legislative efforts to alter the legal status of sugar gliders in Pennsylvania, these initiatives have not succeeded thus far. Consequently, it is crucial for prospective buyers to stay informed about the existing laws and refrain from acquiring sugar gliders in Pennsylvania until there is a change in their legal status.


The question of whether sugar gliders should be allowed as pets in Pennsylvania continues to be a subject of debate, accompanied by legislative endeavors to alter their current illegal status. The key apprehension revolves around the possible consequences for the local ecosystem if these exotic creatures were to break free and form a population in the wild. 

Despite multiple attempts to legalize sugar gliders, the state has yet to achieve a unified stance on the issue. Pennsylvania has a discernible requirement for coherent and transparent legislation concerning sugar gliders.

Such regulations would alleviate the confusion and controversy surrounding their ownership and ensure the safeguarding of both the animals and the local ecosystem.





Author 2

I am a proud veterinarian from Lahore, Pakistan. A passionate animal lover who pursued her passion for animal care as a career.
My eagerness to learn and my love for animals grew stronger even during my teenage days. Having a lovely pet, a German Shepherd, in my home allowed me to bond with animals in the best way.
This bonding with my pet provided me with a firm foundation to research and preach about the best animal care methods.

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