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Health and Wellness

I have people contact me from time to time saying they can only afford one sugar glider right now, and they will get another one later. I see posts on other groups all the time with the results of said purchase. Sugar gliders are colony animals. Any breeder or pet store that would just sell you one glider (unless you have one already that needs a companion), should never be allowed to work with these animals. Clear indication they either do not care about the animals they raise, or have enough experience to know about the animals natural behaviors. Sugar gliders are colony animals. Any amount of time alone, can be very stressful for them. Gliders thrive and do much better with a buddy or a colony. Gliders who are alone can go into depression and they can preform self mutilation on themselves. If you can’t afford the exotics vet bill for that (anywhere from $1000 to $2,500 or more), then you can’t afford the animals right now. Not only do you need two, but you need to be fully set up with a proper cage, toys, pouches, food and wheels. Basic set up that is proper can run up to $1,000. That’s before your animals. Then there is your vet. Accidents can and do happen. If you buy your gliders from a pet store or a backyard mill breeder, then your chances have increased by a lot. Those animals can be inbred and suffer from genetic defects because their parents didn’t have lineage or pedigree. We know for fact that one like relative within the first 4 generations, can cause the joeys to suffer from genetic defects of the major organs. Without pedigree, these so called breeders are playing Russian Roulette with the health and well being of the animals. Many are not using a vet on a regular basis either. And diet is also important. There are so many really bad diets out there. People don’t always understand the reason why we preach about this. Pet foods have even less protections from our government than our own foods do. They can put poison and toxic ingredients in your pet foods that will make them sick and shorten their lives by many, many years. Exotic Nutrition is one of the worst ones. Never feed or buy anything from them except their cages. It’s all about adding cheap ingredients to make the most money. And your vet. You need a good exotics vet, and they aren’t cheap. If you don’t have access to a credit card, you need to have a vet savings account with no less than $2,500 in it. Some of the worst accidents I have seen have even exceeded that. And vets want to be paid at the time service is rendered. You cannot just have gliders on the cheap. They are not cheap to fix if they break. I will leave you with a photo of a healed glider whose owner bought her from a local mill breeder who agreed to sell her one. That “tail docking” that the female did on herself, cost the owner over $1,500 at the vet.

There are many good reasons why you should make sure you have a good exotics vet near you, before you decide to purchase.  Call around and ask what experience they have had with sugar gliders, before you make the jump.

There are no known vaccines for these animals.  It must be noted that Sugar Gliders are exotics, can have a lot of wild instincts.  One of these instincts is the ability to hide illness, until it’s too late.  In the wild, a glider that is sick or “doesn’t look right”, can attract the attention of unwanted predators, placing the rest of the colony in danger.  If the glider shows they are ill, it can cause the other gliders to turn on them, and try to drive them out of the home.  They can do the same in a domesticated home.

Having a knowledgeable vet on hand, is always a good thing.

Sugar Gliders should all have yearly wellness exams.  The vet will check overall health such as heart, breathing, skin, fur, eyes, nose, ears.  It’s also important to make sure and ask for a parasite test, if your vet doesn’t automatically offer it.  Gliders can get parasites from other animals, but also from food and water sources.  Once a year check-ups, can save lives.  There are no vaccinations currently available for sugar gliders to prevent disease.

We can have our vets neuter males, but there is also currently no safe operation to spay female sugar gliders.

If a sugar glider is well bred and free of genetic issues, and fed a proper diet, they can be very hardy animals indeed.  Take a turn away from the advice of a breeder, and your vet bills can add up fast.

Feeding a good diet is also paramount.  I talk about this on my diet page, but if you have any questions, please feel free to discuss this with me.  The wrong diet, can take years off their lives, even if they were well bred.

Sugar gliders are also this side of wild.  The same wild call that makes them fear predators can come into play if one of their cage-mates dies.  In the wild, a sick or dying glider can attract predators which can in turn be a danger to the healthy, living gliders.  If a sugar glider dies in the wild, some gliders may try to “clean up the mess” by digesting some of the flesh.  It’s just mother nature and yes.  This can happen in captivity too.  The living gliders are not evil.  They are just following protocol of their wild ancestors.  They are not too far removed from them like domesticated cats and dogs are.  However, I have witnessed a dog doing this myself to a puppy who was born dead.  We can’t always put human values on animal activities.  The laws of the jungle are quite different than human civilization.

The following ailments are just some of the things we can see with sugar gliders.  It’s not a complete list, but it does give you a good oversight of things that could happen.

Issues that can arise in Sugar Gliders

ABANDONMENT OR REJECTION In some cases, a parent may reject or abandon a joey.  It could be for many reasons, but if you must, you need to set up a little incubator with a Critter Keeper and a heat pad set to low.  The baby must be fed a certain formula ever so often and amounts, depending on the age.  The youngest joeys must be fed every 2 hours around the clock, or they will die.

This is the best and most resourceful link out there on how to raise up a rejected joey:


A Sugar Glider is not fully weaned until they are 8 to 9 weeks out of pouch.  They do not even start experimenting with solid foods, until they are at least 4 to 5 weeks.  At that, they are only eating a small amount, and the rest is still milk from the mother.  They are emotional pets and the last few weeks are spent with the father giving them lessons such as bonding with humans and other cage mates.  Sugar Gliders who are not with their parents, may not do well and will constantly be in stress for the rest of their lives.

If someone tries to sell you a joey less than 8 weeks old, please do not allow them to take them from the mother and contact the authorities.  It’s illegal to sell animals before they are weaned.

AFLATOXICOSIS This is a condition of the liver (hepatic disease) caused by the sugar glider ingesting aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are produced by fungi and molds in or on foods.The highest risk of contamination exists among corn, peanuts, and cottonseed. Aflatoxins can lead to cancer. A common way for a Sugar Glider to become contaminated with aflatoxins is by eating crickets or other insects which have been exposed to contaminated corn, or by eating peanuts or moldy feed or food items that have not been stored correctly.


Lack of appetite
Weight loss


This can be treated if caught very early on. However, in most cases, this cause of death is found during a necropsy.

Not all sugar gliders will be affected this way, but it’s possible.  All breeders that I know, do offer some type of bug as a snack.  I have done it for years.  I personally have not had this happen, but recently it did happen to a client of mine with an older male.

BARTONELLA INFECTION  (Also known as Cat Scratch Disease, Trench Fever and Carrions Disease.  Cats carry toxins under their claws and it’s also in the saliva.  Even a tiny scratch from a cat, should be considered and emergency and the animal needs to see a vet ASAP.  This is a condition a cat can get from a flea bite.  Many cats have it, but they do not show symptoms.  Their scratch or bite, can be lethal to an animal that they infect.


Fever and Enlarged lymph nodes developing 1-3 weeks after exposure.  Wounds can scab or pustule at the scratch site.


See a qualified vet as soon as you know your animal has been wounded by a cat.

CALCIUM DEFICIENCY This, in most cases, is actually a secondary condition due to another illness which will cause the body to pull nutrients from all other sources of the body to fight the problems.  Once such issue is parasites.

It is also caused when a diet is fed that is not a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio. The correct ratio for a sugar glider is 1.5:1 -2:1 CA/P Ratio.


Weakness or tremors
Loss of use or favoring of one or both hind legs


This condition can be treated if treated soon. Most Veterinarians will administer Calcivet or an equivalent calcium supplement. It is imperative that a sugar glider is seen by a Veterinarian as soon as symptoms are noticeable or suspected.

Acting quickly if symptoms are shown is important. If left untreated muscle atrophy will occur leading to further paralysis and eventually death of the animal.

CONSTIPATION is caused by a lack of fiber and moisture in your sugar gliders diet. It will cause pain while trying to defecate. A glider can also become constipated if it is forced to eat insoluble fibers it normally does not eat, this is why blending vegetables and fruit are recommended.


Straining while defecating


Offering your sugar glider more water based foods such as melons, grapes and also some dark leafy greens should resolve the situation. If symptoms persist for more than 24 hours please consult with your Veterinarian

DEHYDRATION This happens when a sugar glider does not get enough liquids into their system or an illness is present. If this condition is not treated promptly, it can be fatal. It is the leading cause in sugar gliders deaths.


Lack of Appetite
Vomiting or Diarrhea
The skin remains up when applying the ‘tent test’
Lack of balance
Lack of urination
Lack of defecation
Dull, sunken eyes
Droopy ears


Contact your Veterinarian immediately or take your sugar glider to the nearest 24 hour Emergency Clinic.

Always check your water bottles and make sure they are working properly.

DEPRESSION This can be caused by a lack of attention, loneliness, the loss of a cage mate or stress.


Sleeping more than normal
Lack of interest in playing with toys, running on wheel
Lack of appetite
Sleeping in odd locations
Over grooming
Change in personality
Improper housing


(after you have been to your Veterinarian and all tests
come back that there is not a illness)

Increase amount of attention given

Never keep your Sugar Gliders alone.  If Mother Nature intended them to be single animals, they would not live in colonies in the wild.  It’s very cruel to house them alone.  Get a buddy, and walk away if the breeder or pet store insists they can live by themselves.

DIARRHEA A very liquid or extremely soft, loose stool and often frequent. This can be the cause from several things. Parasites, Giardia, Stress, Infections (both bacterial and viral), inability to digest a certain food, too many fruits offered, gastroenteritis, toxins.


Frequent runny and loose stools.


First assess your diet. If feeding too many watery and/or citrus fruits, remove them from diet. Offer your sugar glider a small amount of pumpkin or rolled oats. If symptoms persist for 12 hours, please follow up with your Veterinarian. At this time have a fecal float/smear done to find the cause of the problem. Your Veterinarian will give you the proper medications to treat the cause. Follow as directed.

GIARDIA is a protozoan parasite that resides in the intestinal tract. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted from one pet to another through stool contact, contaminated water or food.


Diarrhea (normally containing a very strong, foul odor)
Decreased appetite
Weight loss
Discolored stools (often a pale color or a shade of green)


Take sugar glider to Veterinarian immediately.

Keep sugar glider quarantined from all other animals in your home.

Keep cage, pouch, toys etc, sterilized. Can be cleaned daily with diluted bleach solution.

Wash hands after each contact with warm soap and water.

There are other types of parasites that a sugar glider can get. This one is the most common, and is treatable, if caught in time.

LUMPY JAW The swelling of the jaw or facial area in a sugar glider. Feels as a hard lump in the area of swelling. This can be caused by a bacterial infection, a dental abscess, sinusitis, and trauma.


Slow to fast swelling in facial/neck area
Eye swollen shut


Please contact your Veterinarian immediately.

In my Starter Pack, I am offering the food up the way I feed it.  I am including a pound of Pet Pro.  This pellet is not the main part of the diet.  It’s a filler that I give.  Only one teaspoon for a pair of gliders per night.  It’s made with chicken and not beef and pork, so it’s better to digest.

It’s there in case they have eaten everything else and are still hungry.  It’s also helping to clean their teeth, to prevent tooth decay later on.  Sugar gliders should always have a small amount of good quality pellet given once a day with the regular meal.



What is a Pseudomonas infection?

A Pseudomonas infection is an illness that you get from strains (types) of Pseudomonas bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) is the most common type that causes infections in people. P. aeruginosa most commonly exists in the environment, like in water, plants and soil. But it also appears in moist or wet areas, like bathtubs or sinks. You may also have it on your skin, but it may not cause an infection. Healthcare experts sometimes call this bacterial colonization.

A Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection can be challenging to get rid of. The bacteria have evolved (changed in response to treatments), so certain antibiotics that would typically treat the condition no longer work (antibiotic resistance).

This is the general way humans get the infection, but gliders are getting it another way.

This is not a parasite, but a bacterial infection.  It has started to crop up more and more recently with sugar gliders who are fed frozen fruits and vegetables.  It can survive the deep freeze.  The bacteria starts out in the manufacturing process of frozen produce.  Many people do not realize, but there are only about two processing plants for all of the distributors who sell these items in their stores.  Kroger, Walmart, Safeway, Costco, Target, Hannaford Brothers, Hyvee, Birds Eye, Delmonte…all of them get their products from one of these two plants.  The produce is all being processed through the same equipment.  If the bacteria starts to grow in the machines before it is detected, then all of the produce packaged up until the time of discovery, will be infected.  Pseudomonas survives the deep freeze.  This is why we are always seeing re-calls at the bottom of our grocery receipts for the frozen product recalls.  The gliders could have been infected months or even years back.  It normally stays dormant in the system, until it no longer can.  This is why many breeders are urging their clients not to feed frozen produce.  Only fresh.  It’s okay if you bring it home or grow it yourself and freeze it.  You are simply avoiding the manufacturing process of these facilities.  But, to avoid this one, simply stop buying frozen produce.

Typical parasite testing shows negative results, because that is not what this is, but the symptoms can be similar.  Many people also notice that their gliders seem to be loosing teeth at a rapid rate and UTI’s are usually a symptom as well.

The only way to test for this is for the vet to preform a Midog test, which is sent to a special lab to get the correct diagnosis. The medicine used to cure the bacteria is not the same as typical parasite cures.  This is why when a vet is stumped, they will give out the normal garden variety of meds usually given for parasites, and they symptoms still do not go away.

This spreads quickly so even if only on glider is showing symptoms and the other is not, they are 99.9% likely to test positive as well, even though they are not yet showing it.

If you or your vet suspect this is the case, please contact me.  I have a professional in the sugar glider community who I can get you in contact with, who will help to guide your vet through the testing process, as well as treatment.  This bacterial infection is curable, but if left to go on too long, the animals may die.

UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS An infection in the airways often traveling to the lungs. This can be caused by drafts, drastic and quick temperature changes.


Lack of appetite
Popping sound while breathing
Excessive sleeping


Please contact your Veterinarian immediately.

URINARY TRACT INFECTION An infection in the Urinary Tract which is often caused by E-Coli.


Hissing while urinating
Frequent Urination
Licking the cloaca
Crystals in Urine (determined be a Veterinarian
Self Mutilation


Please contact your Veterinarian immediately.


Wounds can happen by either a cage accident, being let out of the cage where they can be attacked by another pet such as a dog or cat, or from a cage-mate.  If it’s a scratch, make sure you clean it well and apply aid such as Neosporin.   You must use common sense, but if it’s more severe, you need to contact a vet immediately.  When sugar gliders are in pain, they can actually self mutilate and make the wound worse.  They may need to be given some type of injection to start them out with, and in some cases, surgery.  Make sure if the wound is very bad, to acquire an e-collar from the vet, so they do not pull stitches or make the wound worse.

Even keeping pet gliders can be very expensive.  My vet is reasonable compared to other areas of Arizona, but even I have been saddled with bills reaching over $700.  I also am a breeder who gets a discount from the vet.  Others have had injuries and illness that have cost them in excess of  $1,000 or greater.  Prices vary from vet to vet.  These are exotics and you need a special vet.  Not every vet is going to want to work with them.  I have four vets in my own clinic.  Only two of them will work with sugar gliders at all.  Some clinics have none.  It’s vastly important for you to choose a vet and make sure there is one nearby, before you purchase any at all.

These are only a handful of things that can go wrong, but all new owners should take these things into consideration before purchasing.  They don’t happen all the time, and by following the advice of the breeder, you can lessen the chances of bad things happening.

When you purchase animals from My Little Sugar Glider, you have me by your side and are welcome to contact me at any time for help.

Most of this information, comes from Merrick’s Vet Manual.