Is a sugar glider for you

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Sugar gliders as pets. How to care for sugar gliders, diet and keeping them as a pet

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Is a sugar glider for you

  1. 1. Is a Sugar Glider foryou?So you heard about sugar gliders and decided to look on the Internet to find out more.Just looking at the pictures you are amazed at just how cute they are. Wow arent theycute, they are just like living cuddly toys and those big eyes and that amazing striperunning down their back.Sugar Gliders are becoming increasingly popular these days and I know that webpages like my own are partially to blame. I also know I get a number of emails eachweek asking me about these new pets. They have many good points but like allanimals there is another side to the story.Sharp clawsWhile it is inaccurate to call gliders flying squirrels as they are actually marsupials itis fairly accurate to call them marsupial flying squirrels. What does that mean as far astheir suitability as pets? Well gliders are adapted to living, climbing and jumping toand from trees. And as such they have sharp little claws that they embed intowhatever they are climbing. That includes your hands, arms and whatever other freearea of skin they find and cling too. Glider owners frequently look as if they have justlost a fight with a fairly opinionated cat. Your hands and arms are almost alwayscovered with scratches. Sugar gliders also get their name from their habits of glidingfrom tree to tree, as a pet this adjusts to them leaping from person to person and tofurniture and back again. Many gliders have been known to wait until their ownerlooks at them then to jump onto their owners face, so you can also end up with ascratched up face and I would not be surprised if at least one person ends up losingtheir sight due to a scratched cornea or worse.Cant be housebroken/SmellGliders are also incontinent and urinate and defecate on you without thinking about it- I have only ever heard of one person who managed to toilet train their glider. This isof course on top of having all those new scratches. This of course leads to peoplebeing allergic to gliders not because of their fur but because of their allergenic claws.Gliders being colony animals use scenting to declare dominance and the male hasthree scent glands 1) is on the forehead where a pronounced bald patch develops. 2) ison the chest and looks like a stain on his fur, 3) is around his anus. Gliders then marktheir territory leading to pronounced odors that are difficult to overcome. In a nutshellsugar gliders smell, not as much as ferrets but 10 x as much as chinchillas.Longevity/Care RequirementsSugar Gliders will live for 10-15 years if cared for properly. They tend to bond to aperson but bond better if they are young, therefore selling a glider after having it for ayear or two is VERY cruel and almost inhumane. If you want a glider ask yourself
  2. 2. what you will be doing in the next ten years, will you always have time to play withhim, are you going to college, going to get married, planning on children,- gliders areNOT dorm animals or even really pets for when you are sharing an apartment. If youare going to college most colleges require you to spend teh first year on campus andstrictly forbid pets. Therefore going to colleg and having a sugar glider as a pet maywell be non compatible.If youre a person who does not have a lot of time to spend with a pet, a sugar glider isnot the animal for you. Gliders are social and communal by nature, and they cravetime and attention. Gliders also require at least an hour of being played with a night ifnot more, Are you prepared to do that regardless of new potential partners? Glidershave been studied in behavioural works on depression, and when left unattended theiractivity level decreases dramatically. Eventually, they become highly agitated andhave even been known to die from loneliness. If you can afford to buy more than onesugar glider, it is best to do so. That way, if you get terribly busy or have to be awayfor periods of time, your gliders will have each other for company and stimulation.NocturnalSugar Gliders are nocturnal and their large eyes mean that they dislike normaldaylight or electric lights. Sugar Gliders often do not wake up until 10pm or 11pm.Then you would be advised to play with them in a room with subdued lighting. Thismeans that if you go to bed early you may never get the chance to interact with them.This is yet another reason not to get a glider if you are a child.Are they legal in your state?Before even considering adoption of a glider, you must find out if it is legal to keep asugar glider in your state or locality. The laws and situations are different in everyarea, and since the exotic animal market is still in its infancy, the rules are changingall the time. Gliders are legal in most places, but protect yourself and check to be sure.One important thing to know, especially if you decide to breed your pet: In order tosell a sugar glider (or even give it away), you must have a USDA (United StatesDepartment of Agriculture) license. You do not need a license merely to own one.Dietary RequirementsSugar gliders are insectivores. They enjoy eating insects in the wild. If you cant facefeeding your glider either mealworms or crickets do NOT get a sugar glider. Theirnatural diet also includes scavenging off small dead mammals. Zoos tend to feed theirgliders a one day old chick (dead) once a week. You can provide a dry food such asMazuri Omnivore or Insectivore food or cooked meat instead. Also a whole animalalso provides calcium and vitamins more effectively than other foods. Whilst feedingbaby mice/rats is not essential the insects are. This protein is supposed to be at least25% of their diet while the rest comes from fruit and vegetables. More recent studiessuggest they need up tp 35% protein. Therefore you have to cut up fruit andvegetables every night for them. This can be a lot of work and can not be neglected.
  3. 3. ExpensiveSugar gliders can be fairly expensive to buy with prices ranging from $100 to $400for a single, hand-raised glider. Sugar Gliders are also expensive to keep so pleasedont look for a cut price glider. If you cant afford the pet, you cant afford to keep it.You should be able to afford a emergency vet visit at any time if you are a responsibleowner.Housing RequirementsAs your pet is an arboreal animal (tree dwelling) it needs as large a cage as you canprovide with tree branches inside as well as other toys such as a wheel that will notcause injury such as the wodent wheel, rope ladders etc. Our first cage was 17" by 24"by 36" high. We have now made a 24" by 24" by 60" high cage which the glidersenjoy far better. anything smaller than these sizes are cruel.VetsAs a fairly new pet, there is a dearth of veterinarians that know the animal and how totreat illnesses. Please find a vet BEFORE you buy your pet. You should be able totake your pet to a knowledgeable vet 24/7 if you are wise.FragileAlthough sugar gliders are healthy and hardy animals, their physical structure is smalland delicate although their skulls seem to be very dense when considering the waythey bounce themselves off trees many times head first. Thus, they are NOT a suitablepet for very young children, who like to squeeze the animals that they love best.BondingYou have been told that gliders are sweet animals that love human contact. They canbe but it is very dependant on how the animal was raised and how often it washandled from the early stages. Some lucky people get gliders that immediately cuddleup, are incredibly sweet and never want anything more than to be your best friend.Others dont!!!! Many times when you get your glider it is scared and unsure and notused to human contact. This animal will crab at you, an ungodly racket that soundslike a miniture electric saw, so loud you would swear the animal is hiding anamplifier! It may also lunge at you and bite- hard..sometimes so hard that it drawsblood. It may also run and hide and want nothing to do with you. Many people havebeen faced with gliders like this and are completely unprepared. This animal willrequire hours of contact being bitten frequently and may take months to come around.Just leaving the animal in its cage is the worst way to deal with a glider like this.Playing with them whilst sleepy and bribing them shamelesly with favourite foods areall good ways to start the bonding process. Other people carry them around in a pouchfor hours allowing the animal to get used to them. I have seen countless letters asking
  4. 4. why their glider is mean and hates them. It is NOT mean, it is SCARED and needslots of love, time and affection.If you still want a sugar glider after this, then you may be the perfect person for theglider and the glider the perfect pet for you. I salute you and wish you the best- youdeserve it…………………………….Specializing in Sugar Gliders, other exotics and exotic pet careproducts.Linda Altman- OwnerPO Box 99690,Raleigh,NC 27624-9690Tel: (919) 847-8403 (919) 847-8403Fax: (413) 208-0980Complete CatalogCopyright 1997, 1998, 1999. All material on this website is copyrighted and cannot bereproduced or transmitted by any means including electronically, manually, electronicallytransmitted, etc. without express written consent from Southern Exotics. This includes allpricing information, pictures, care information, articles, lists, and any other information thatyou find here on this website.SUGAR GLIDER FAQby Linda Altman of Southern ExoticsSugar gliders are fast becoming one of the most popular of exotic pets today!Unfortunately the veterinary community and the pet community at large hasnot kept up with the demand for accurate information. Treatment and care ofsugar gliders is still in its infancy here in the US. I hope the followingfrequently asked questions will help you make an informed decision as towhether or not you should have a sugar glider for a pet or if you do have oneor two already, I hope that this information helps you in your everyday care.1. What is a sugar glider?A sugar glider is a small arboreal marsupial, closely related to the opossum,
  5. 5. that is native to Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines.2. What do sugar gliders eat??A sugar gliders diet in the wild consists mainly of insects, sap, nectar, smallbirds and bird eggs, and lizards. In captivity you should be feeding them a dietconsisting of 50% protein in the form of insects and eggs and 50%carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables. I recommend using aninsectivore based diet, combined with fruits and veggies.3. What type of cage do I need??You will need at a minimum, a cage of 2 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft for 1 adult glider.Double this for 2 or more. Cages that are taller than longer are better as theyare tree dwellers. Each glider needs a minimum of 8 cubic feet of interior cagespace.4. What type of accessories do I need for my glider??All sugar gliders need to have the following in their cages:a water bottle, one or two food dishes, a nestbox or pouch to sleep in andhide in, nontoxic bedding for the nestbox and for the floor of the cage. Youshould also have branches for them to climb on, a glider safe wheel like awodent wheel, and other safe chewable toys like those for hamsters or birds.5. Do sugar gliders need special lighting??Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals. They do not have a need for exposure toUV lighting. However, all animals have an internal clock that helps them keeptrack of day and night. This is called a photoperiod. All sugar gliders should bekept in a location where they can have the natural cycles of light from theoutside. If you are keeping them in a room that does not have windows, thena 12 hour on/off cycle with normal lighting will do. The same thing applies ifyou live near the Arctic circle and your day/night cycles are very different thanthose who live in lower latitudes. If your gliders can see the natural daylightcycles than you do not need supplemental lighting. Because they arenocturnal, they do not use the UV light to process vitamin D they way diurnalreptiles do.6. Do sugar gliders need special heating??No. Sugar gliders need temperatures that range from 70 to 90 degrees. If youare breeding them then I would suggest a constant temperature of 80-85degrees. A sugar gliders normal body temperature is 85 degrees.7. Which is better to purchase a male, or a female??That depends on the individual sugar glider and is not really dependent ongender. I have found that most female sugar glider are "talkers". They tend tocrab at you more and have more to say to you. Males can be more outgoingand adventurous. The biggest difference is that when they hit maturity, maleswill mark their territory much more than the female will and this results in aslight odor that has a sweet smell to it that some people find offensive. Also,when first coming into maturity, males will go through a nipping stage. Thisnormally passes within a few months, but it is a good idea not to let themlearn that this is acceptable behavior.
  6. 6. 8. Can gliders be kept in pairs or groups or should I only get one??Gliders in the wild and by nature are social and communal animals. They livein colonies and the females stay with their daughters for a long time. There isonly 1 dominant male per group and sometimes one or 2 other submissivemales. Captive gliders need to have at least 4 hours of attention a day fromtheir caretakers. If this is a problem for you, then you should get a secondglider so that they have company. You can keep males and females together,however if you do this you need to have a USDA license in order to sell ofgive away the babies. You can also keep 2 females together. It is unwise tokeep males together because they more than likely will fight.9. If I want a male female pair but do not want babies can gliders befixed??Yes, you can neuter the males as early as 8 weeks out of the pouch. Femalescan be spayed but neutering is much safer and is a more common procedure.10. Should I get captive bred or wild caught? The wild caught ones areso much cheaper!?DO NOT PURCHASE A WILD CAUGHT GLIDER FOR A PET!!!! Theseanimals are fine for breeding stock but they are very difficult to tame downand are prone to many health problems. There are so many high qualitycaptive bred sugar gliders available now that to purchase a wild caught gliderfor any reason other than to expand your breeding gene pool is ridiculous.Wild caught gliders have a shorter life span, a higher degree of healthproblems, they are very difficult to tame down and they almost always haveparasites. Trying to medicate an animal that wants to have your fingers forlunch is not a lot of fun. The best type of sugar glider to purchase as a pet is ahand tame, socialized Joey from a reputable breeder.11. Are sugar gliders messy??Sugar gliders are tree dwellers. They cannot be litter trained, as most treedweller cannot be. They also throw their food and spit out food and urinateeverywhere. I strongly suggest that you keep your sugar gliders home off ofcarpeted surfaces and away from walls, wall coverings and windowtreatments that cannot be easily cleaned often (usually daily). The bestsurfaces to have them on or near is sealed or glazed tile, vinyl or tile flooring,tile board, fiberglass board, painted surfaces that have a semi-gloss to highgloss finish and that is scrubable paint. They are about as messy as a largeparrot.12. How old should my glider be when I purchase one??Ideally, you sugar glider should be a hand tame, socialized, baby (Joey). TheJoey should have been kept with its mother until it was ready to be weaned.Do not purchase "bottle fed" gliders as they were pulled way too young fromtheir parents and while they will make sweet pets, they are not as strong asthose raised by their parents and they do not make for good parentsthemselves. A Joey should be at least 45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces whenweaned. The tail should be fully bushed out like an adults and not smooth and
  7. 7. flat like a mouse or gerbils tail. The Joey should be alert and curious and eventake a threat display with you (making a crabbing noise).13. Do gliders need shots or anything like that??No. But they should see a vet at least once a year for a checkup and a fecalexam should be done at least twice per year.14. What kinds of health problems do gliders have??Almost all health problems in sugar gliders can be attributed to diet. Withoutthe proper amounts of vitamin E, vitamin D3, calcium, selenium and othernutrients, your glider will suffer. The following is a list of common gliderailments: Hind Leg Paralysis, seizures, parasites, blindness, injuries due tofighting/aggression between cage mates, injuries from cages and accessoriesin the cage, getting out of the cage, cold and heat,and self mutilation(chewing).Hind Leg Paralysis is a generalized term that can be actually one of severalthings. First it can be actual osteodystrophy due to lack of available calciumand Vitamin D3 in the diet. A second cause can be deficiency in Vitamin Eand Selenium in the diet, and third (and this differs from the other two as theglider will die within 48 hours if left untreated)is a bacterial infection known asLysteriosis. This is transmitted from unwashed or improperly washed fruit andvegetables to your glider.Self mutilation occurs more frequently in males than females. It is commonlythought to be caused by stress. If you see signs that your glider is chewingthe cloaca area (groin area) get them to a vet ASAP. This is a hard to stopproblem and it seems most gliders that do this literally chew themselves todeath. Young males who are not going to be bred should be neutered.Females who do this should be checked for yeast infections.15. Where can I find information on sugar gliders??There is a very good book published by Barons and written by CarolineMacPherson on sugar gliders. There is also a good video. Both of these itemsare available on my website.………………………………………….You can expect to enjoy your Sugar Glider for the next 12+ years if you carefor it properly. A sugar glider, pretaurus breviceps, is native to Australia,Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. In the wild a sugar glider will eatnectar, flowers, fruits, gum from the acacia tree, eucalyptus, bird eggs, smallbirds, small rodents, insects, manna, honeydew, and bark. It is difficult toexactly copy their natural diet but one that is nutritionally complete isabsolutely necessary.In addition to diet, sugar gliders do require 8 cubic feet of space per adultglider. This is a minimum. It is best to purchase the largest cage you canafford for them as they can glide up to 150 ft. per jump in the wild.
  8. 8. Sugar gliders are very social creatures. They will require at least 4 hours aday of your undivided attention. A single glider that does not get the attentionit needs can actually die from loneliness. If you cannot spend this much timewith your glider, then you should get 2. If you cannot afford to do this then youshould look into getting another type of pet.The Cage:The cage for a single glider should be at least 1 1/2 feet wide by 4 feet tall by1 1/2 feet deep. Ideally there should be a wire bottom so that any food thatfalls down and feces fall through the cage bottom and into the litter.The litter should be made of an absorbent material. Avoid Cedar and Pineshavings. Some litters to try are Care Fresh, Critter Country, KayCob (corncob litter), or Aspen shavings. I personally prefer either corn cob or aspenshavings. Some people also use alfalfa pellets for rabbits. I change the litter inmy cages daily. This keeps the odors down and prevents outbreaks of fruitflies and other problems.In the cage you should have at least 3 food dishes, 1 for Scenic Bird Food orBriskys Accu Feed, 1 for fruit and crickets, and 1 for mealworms. Theseshould be kept up off the floor of the cage to prevent contamination from urineand feces. A fourth dish may be used for the weekly leadbeaters mix.Also in the cage there should be a water bottle or 2. I prefer Lixit brandbecause these do not leak or drip as often if at all.I also have a cuttle bone for small birds, a mineral wheel, a nest box and aglider pouch. Hang all of these from the sides or top of the cage.You should also have live branches or plants in the cage. (See list of safe andunsafe plants for gliders) The last thing that you should have in their cage is aPolly Pastel Perch. This will help keep the nails down so they will not need tobe trimmed as often. Cages should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitizedweekly.Diet:I feed each adult glider the following and I would recommend it to everyone.This is for 1 adult glider, per night:• 15 pieces of Scenic Bird Food or 1/8 cup of Briskys Accu Feed for SugarGliders• 1" piece of banana or 1/6 of an apple that has been peeled and cored.• 1" square piece of papaya, peeled• 1" square piece of melon, rind cut off
  9. 9. • 2 large grapes, cut in half• 5 crickets, fed a high calcium diet• 15 giant mealworms or superworms, gut loaded with a high calcium gut loadjust a sprinkle of Rep Cal once a week on the bugs and a nightly Sprinkle ofPrime VitaminsAlso:• 1 tablespoon of lead betters, once per week• 1/8 of a hard boiled egg with the shell on, once per week• Once per week substitute one of the fruits for a teaspoon of mixed veggies(corn, carrots, peas, lima beans, green beans), frozen veggies are OK to use.Thaw them out in hot water for a few minutes.• For treats you can offer sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pecans, brazilnuts, raw peanuts, dried fruit, wax worms, raisins, boiled chicken or babychicken sticks, Earths Best Baby food, or any fruit or veggie that may be theirfavorite.• Sugar gliders have a high calcium and vitamin E requirement. Without theproper amount of these, many health problems and even death could occur.This can be avoided with supplementation.• You can offer them pinkie( frozen baby mice) they will eat them but it is not apretty sight.• A teaspoon of yogurt with active cultures in it once a week is a nice treat.• An alternate diet would be to feed only Briskys Accu - Feed and just give amealworm or 2 or a small piece of fruit as a treat.• Do not give them candy or chocolate!Leadbeaters Mix - My version1 cup baby apple juice1/2 cup honey1 hard boiled egg with the shell on, cut into pieces1 jar of baby food chicken and veggies (I recommend Earths Best orBeechnut)1 tablespoon of cod liver oil
  10. 10. 1 tablespoon of Omega 3 fish oil1 teaspoon Rep Cal1 teaspoon Glider Booster1 tablespoon brewers yeast1 tablespoon wheat germ1 cup of high protein baby cereal.Mix all of the ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Put in an airtightcontainer and freeze. It should be the consistency of baby food. If too looseadd more cereal. If too thick add more apple juice. It will freeze to theconsistency of soft serve ice cream. ( But it looks about as appetizing asanchovy ice cream). Feed 1 tablespoon per week per glider.Glider Facts:Male gliders will develop a bald spot around 7 months of age. This is normal.They will also start to mark their territory a lot more. Clean their cages with anenzymatic cleaner, like Natures Miracle or use vinegar and water. Females donot mark nearly as much as the males do.If you are not interested in breeding, get two females, as two males will fightas they get older. Males can be neutered. Gliders do bark, usually at night.This is usually a call for attention. Turn on a lamp with a red light bulb in it.This usually helps. Gliders also hiss, click, chirp, and crab (yell). It sounds alot like a small motor shorting out. It means leave me alone or Ill kill you.Ignore it.Glider do like to have toys. A parrot swing, or other climbing toys make greatfun for them. Glider Safe wheels like the Wodent Wheel are well received.They also love their pouches. Use these to take them anywhere you go. It canbe a lot of fun. Play with your glider and handle them as much as possibleand you will have a dear friend for the next 12 or so years.Symptoms of Illness:Call your vet immediately if any of these symptoms appear:• not eating• not drinking
  11. 11. • trouble using rear legs• excessive shaking/trembling• white spots in the eyes• constant chewing of the genital area or base of tail• listlessness• change in color/consistency of the feces• Dull eyes, they should be shiny and bright• any discharge from they eyes, nose or mouth• any sudden change in their normal behavior• excessive coughing or sneezing……………………..

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