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Sugar Glider Health


Q.  Is it necessary for sugar gliders to receive wellness exams? 

Sugar gliders should receive a wellness exam within the first two weeks of being taken home and yearly thereafter.  

During the exam, your veterinarian will check your gliders weight, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, tail and overall coat condition.  Your vet should also obtain a fecal sample and run an intestinal parasite screen.  Requesting a urinalysis to ensure your glider doesn’t have a bacterial infection is also recommended.

Your sugar gliders will need to have their nails trimmed every 1 to 2 weeks, and this is something you can ask your vet to show you how to do.  There may be a small fee for that additional service but is vital to your gliders well-being.  

Sugar gliders incisors (bottom and front teeth) do not continually grow.  Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you allow your veterinarian to trim your sugar glider’s teeth.  This is extremely inhumane and can cause health issue for your gliders as they get older. 

Q: Since sugar gliders are exotic pets, do they need to go to a special veterinarian?

It is true that many veterinarians have not worked with sugar gliders before, which is why it is important to research your local vets to find those with exotic animal experience. 

Q: Does my sugar glider need vaccinations?

No, a sugar glider does not need vaccinations, and is not a typical carrier of disease. They can, however, become ill for many of the same reasons that other animals do, so be aware of common dangers or signs. With a healthy diet and clean environment, a glider should rarely become ill.

Q: How can I tell if my sugar glider is sick?

Sugar gliders are a prey animal and take care to hide their illness to as to not signal predators that they are weak. This means that it can be difficult to tell that anything is wrong until the late stages of whatever may be affecting them. A sugar glider should have perky, upright ears, wide eyes, a clean fluffy coat, and be active. If your glider has drooping ears, eyes that are “droopy” or continuously half-shut, cracked fur or balding patches, appears dehydrated or is generally listless, you should consult your vet immediately.

Q: How can I tell if my sugar glider is dehydrated?

There is a “pinch test” that you can perform with your glider to check if they’re dehydrated. Much like human skin, a glider’s skin should be fairly elastic, and snap back into place if pinched and pulled up to form a small tent. If your glider’s skin is very slow to return to its shape, or stays tented, your glider is likely dehydrated, and requires immediate medical attention. Until you can get them to the vet, they can be given water, or unflavored Pedialyte, through a small syringe to tide them over. If they are dehydrated, oral hydration will not be enough, get them to your vet for immediate treatment to rehydrate, and diagnose what is causing this to happen.

Q: I only have one sugar glider, and he is biting himself and pulling out his hair! What is happening?

Sugar gliders are social animals and are much happier in groups of two or more. A single glider is a lonely glider, and that can lead to depression and self-injurious behaviors. While it is possible that over-grooming and odd behavior can have other causes, it is most probable that they need a companion.