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Common Health Problems

My baby Sugar Glider has diarrhea.                                      
My baby Sugar Glider is lethargic.
My baby Sugar Glider is aggressive.
My Sugar Glider has an odor.
I think that my male Sugar Glider has worms.
My Sugar Glider has an eye problem.



My baby Sugar Glider has diarrhea.
Diarrhea in a baby Sugar Glider can be caused by at least two sources. The first possible cause is diet. Normally when you buy a baby Sugar Glider from a reputable breeder it will be 7 to 12 weeks out of the pouch. This is an infant Sugar Glider, especially on the lower end of that range. You cannot throw steak and potatoes to a human infant, you must start with formula and gradually add new foods as the infant grows and can handle it. The gut bacteria in a baby Sugar Glider is not built up to handle a wide variety of foods. Our adult Sugar Gliders have apple and Glider Grub each evening along with other fruits and vegetables. When the mother weans her babies (makes them stop nursing) the babies are usually six weeks out of the pouch. By the time they are weaned, they are eating the apple especially well and are picking up pieces of the Glider Grub and chewing on them. By the seventh week when they are taken from their parents, they are eating both quite well. We continue to give them the apple and we soften the Glider Grub with apple juice or better yet, the syrup from a can of peaches.

If you are feeding many types of foods to an infant Sugar Glider it can easily get diarrhea from the overload. Acidic foods such as oranges are especially bad for this.

If you suspect that this is the source of the problem, cut back to a simple diet such as described above. In addition, make sure that the baby is always warm and is well hydrated.

If all is well in the diet area, but the Sugar Glider has diarrhea, it may have picked up a bacteria of some sort, usually from the stress of being too cold. If you suspect this of being the problem, give it a broad-spectrum antibiotic. We use LA-200. It is actually used mostly for cattle, but in the doses we recommend, it has been very effective for Sugar Gliders. It is available from most feed stores and can also be purchased at your local vet clinic. First, be sure the baby has its heat rock and tee shirt in its cage for warmth. Next, try giving it a shallow lid or bowl with the syrup from a can of peaches, with the LA-200 in it. The LA-200 is in a vacuum bottle, so you will have to also buy a syringe. Place 3 syringe drops in a small amount of the peach syrup and stir it up. Use enough syrup to dissipate the medication, but little enough so that the baby will eat all of it. Give this to the baby twice a day for 3 or 4 days. If the diarrhea was due to bacteria, this will usually turn the situation around. Often however, the diarrhea doesn't go away until the glider is finished with the medication.

Be sure to keep the baby warm and well hydrated while treating it. Top

My baby Sugar Glider is lethargic.
This is a very serious matter. Baby Sugar Gliders can quickly get dehydrated, if for whatever reason, they are not drinking or have no opportunity to drink. In fact the two biggest threats to a baby Sugar Glider are being too cold and getting dehydrated.

When a baby gets dehydrated, hypoglycemia is soon to follow. With the dropping of the body fluids, the sugar level drops and the baby is in critical condition. With the drop in blood sugar the baby gets lethargic. In fact, if it is very dehydrated, it will be so weak that it cannot save itself. If you find your glider in this critical situation you must get it and keep it very warm (a cold baby Sugar Glider will not eat), and you must start feeding it fluids by hand every half hour until it is re-hydrated. Without your help it will certainly die.

Some signs of dehydration are the loss of plumpness in its body, the skin of the glider being loose (you can pull it up and it doesn't spring back into shape), diarrhea, lack of cleaning itself, and of course lethargy.

When faced with this situation we feed a mixture, at room temperature or a little warmer, of apple juice, Pedialyte, and a little honey. It can be fed with a small marsupial bottle and nipple (which most new owners don't have), an eyedropper, or a syringe without the needle.

Warm a clean washcloth or other suitable soft cloth in a microwave until pleasantly warm (not too hot). Wrap the baby in it snuggly with only the face exposed. Remember, a cold Sugar Glider will not eat. Put the tip of your feeding instrument to the baby's mouth. For the first few feedings it probably will not drink on its own. You must lift the upper lip and slowly and gently force a small amount into the mouth. Do not let the liquid go down the nostrils or you will aspirate its lungs. Slowly feed the baby all that it will take. Repeat this every half hour. If you start this process in time, by the third or fourth feeding the baby will be accepting more and giving you less trouble and resistance. This is a great sign that you will probably be successful. If everything is going well, soon it will be greedily licking the fluid from the syringe on its own as you feed it.

Do not expect it to take much on the first couple of feedings (maybe ½ to 1cc). When it is cooperating and licking on its own, it may drink 3 to 4 cc per feeding. Don't stop these ½ hour feedings until it is well hydrated, has overcome the lethargy and is going to a similar mixture in a bowl on its own in its warm cage. When it starts cleaning itself you have reached a milestone. Even then, although the crisis is past, be very observant for a few days, making sure it keeps drinking appropriately, and maintains its energy.

No one wants to go through this or rather have their glider baby go through it. However, if you do, there is nothing that will make you love your baby more than snatching it from certain death.

Note: If this is not working, or you cannot get any liquids in your Sugar Glider, get it to an exotic animal vet as quickly as possible. They have the ability to inject subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids. This may need to be done a few times before the baby will absorb these fluids and get re-hydrated. The fluids that they will inject will most probably be a mixture of saline and glucose. Top

My baby Sugar Glider is aggressive.
Sugar Gliders are not aggressive animals. They are defensive animals. They are like a Blow Fish that puffs itself up in the face of danger in order to appear much bigger and tougher than it really is. This is not an aggressive move but rather a defensive move. Puffing up cannot hurt anyone or anything. It can only possibly scare off the real aggressor.

Sugar Gliders have only two defenses. One is a noise referred to as crabbing. This noise is very distinctive and is made only when the glider is afraid or feels threatened. It works too. I have seen policemen, with guns and mace on their hips, jump and back off at the unexpected sound of a 2 ounce baby Sugar Glider's crabbing. I remember the first experience Chloe, our Maine Coon cat had with a Sugar Glider. Apparently the glider thought Chloe was getting a little too nosey or familiar with it, so it gave its crabbing defense. At that point it became a real life cartoon: Chloe could not grab the floor fast enough to escape the room. She jumped and hit the hardwood floor with all paws grabbing for traction. I honestly thought she was going to break her neck trying to escape the big bad Sugar Glider BABY. All is well now, she and the Sugar Gliders get along very well together.

So the point of all of this is, "Don't be afraid of the crabbing noise". It just means the glider is still not over its fear of you and you need to keep working with it. The noise itself cannot hurt you. Instead, confidently scoop it up in both hands and firmly but gently massage it in your hands until it calms down. The more time it spends in your hands the sooner it will quit fearing you and quit crabbing.

The second defense a Sugar Glider has is its bite. An adult glider that has not been socialized can bite hard and certainly break the skin. However, a baby's bite rarely breaks the skin. Most babies don't ever bite but some will. When they do bite it is important to realize it is only like a hard pinch and not to be afraid of it. If you are afraid of your glider, it will sense it and be more afraid of you. Learn to take the bite if necessary rather than back off or put it down. Gliders are a lot like kids, if you let them back you down, and get their way, you will have a spoiled Sugar Glider or kid on your hands.

Holding your glider and massaging it for long sessions in your hands will cause the glider to calm down and start trusting you. The babies are raised in their mothers pouch. In there it is warm snug, and moving. It is also a place of complete safety. Later in life, the safest place for a glider to be is in the den with its colony. Here they are out of harms way from predators. The whole colony will sleep piled upon one another. Again it is warm, snug, and moving, because as one glider wakes up and discovers it is on the top of the pile, it burrows under the others for warmth. When you hold your baby in your hands and give it lots of contact with your hands, massaging it firmly, but calmly and gently, you create the sense of security it felt in the pouch and in the colony. Again, it is warm, snug, and moving. We know of no quicker or better way to get the glider bonded to you than this method.

If the baby bites it is not to be feared, but you also don't want it to grow up with the bad habit of nipping you whenever it wants to. We have a method for stopping this bad behavior before it becomes a bad habit. Right after a bite, insert your index finger into and across the mouth. Make it deep enough that the baby's mouth is extended open wide. This is uncomfortable for the baby. Leave the finger in the mouth with downward pressure on the lower jaw for 30 to 45 seconds. Then slowly remove the finger, giving the baby every opportunity to bite again. If it does, do not remove the finger, but rather reinsert and repeat the lesson for another 15 seconds. Do not completely remove the finger until he lets you remove it without resistance. That is the end of the lesson. Give the baby love and continue playing with it.

Every time it bites repeat the above lesson. Soon it will associate biting you with the uncomfortable sensation that follows. Usually 4 or 5 lessons for a couple of days will stop this bad habit. Top

My Sugar Glider has an odor.
Cleanliness of the cage and the diet of the Sugar Glider are the two most important factors in the odor or lack thereof for your pet.

Sugar Gliders that have a lot of meat and or live food in their diets will have an odor. Likewise gliders given too many vitamins (especially liquid) will develop an odor.

On the other hand gliders that get their protein from a well-balanced dry food such as Glider Grub, and get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and only get meat or insects as an occasional treat, have no odor.

The cage of course must be kept clean. A good PVC coated cage can be pressure washed occasionally. As for the contents of the cage such as logs and branches, a good soaking in a mixture of one of the orange oil cleaners will remove any odors. Top

I think that my male Sugar Glider has worms.
No, the problem is that he is becoming sexually mature.

The penis of a Sugar Glider is like a red thread and is bifurcated (it splits at the end). Many people have called me thinking that their male Sugar Glider was worm infested, and they were coming out of him, and of course they were scared to death. Relax, this is normal, and sometimes it is out for extended periods of time. Top

My Sugar Glider has an eye problem.
There are several reasons that can cause eye problems in Sugar Gliders. Overly fat Sugar Gliders do not breed well, but when they do breed they can produce babies that are born with fat deposits in their eyes. Since we haven’t had this problem I am not sure if they will outgrow this problem if given the proper diet. No reputable person would knowingly sell a baby in this condition. Check for this before buying. The eyes should be bright and alert.

A more common eye problem is caused by an abrasion and subsequent infection. The symptom of an eye infection is the clouding of the eye. It looks gray and cloudy rather than black and sharp. Do not panic, this is a treatable condition. Do, however, address it immediately so that the animal doesn’t suffer needlessly and so that it doesn’t get any worse. You can take the animal to a vet, and he will most likely recommend an eye-drop such as Gentamicin. This is a sterile ophthalmic solution that can be dropped into the eye. If the infection is due to an abrasion, and caught early, only the damaged eye will be affected. It can however, spread to the other eye as well. Gentamicin cannot be purchased without a prescription.

Another very good cure for this situation is to us an antibiotic that can be bought without a prescription. It is the general antibiotic LA-200. Similar to the treatment for diarrhea, the antibiotic is given by mouth mixed into a food that will be palatable and attractive to the Sugar Glider. Two such foods are flavored yogurt (strawberry is usually a favorite), and again, the syrup from a can of peaches. One or two drops in a small amount of either food, once a day for two or three days usually will cure this situation. Remove the fruits or any other favorite foods until the glider has eaten all of the medicated food. Then they can have whatever you would be feeding them. You just want to be sure it gets all of its medicine.

If this doesn’t show signs of improvement in two days, or three at most, I would take it to a good vet for the Gentamicin or whatever the vet recommends. Top