M any disorders and diseases that occur in sugar gliders are related to dietary imbalances, including malnutrition, obesity, and vitamin and mineral imbalances. Others are related to infection with bacteria, fungi, or parasites.
Photo credit: Arnold T. Schwartzenglider
[dropcap type=”e.g. circle or none” color=”#ffffff” background=”#e53b2c”] B [/dropcap]ecause sugar gliders are exotic animals, you should find a veterinarian who is familiar with these animals before your pet requires emergency care.
Signs of Illness Sugar Gliders
The sugar glider’s overall appearance and behavior should be watched for signs of illness. Generally, sugar gliders should have bright eyes, a moist nose, pink nose and gums, and a smooth fur coat, and good elasticity
Wounds and signs of illness are similar to those seen in other animals, including depression, inactivity, and loss of appetite or weight. Other signs that your sugar glider is not well may include watery eyes, lack of energy, red and scaly skin, sores, abnormal droppings, excessive shedding or bald patches, labored breathing, and dragging the hind legs. If you notice any of these signs, you should bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
Sugar gliders can easily become dehydrated either from a lack of drinking water or due to a medical condition such as vomiting or diarrhea. This can be deadly if not addressed promptly. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, loose skin, dry mouth and nose, lack of energy, abnormal breathing, and seizures. Immediately try to give the sugar glider water by mouth using a needle-less syringe and take the animal to a veterinarian. If needed, a veterinarian can inject fluids below the skin using a needle.
X-rays are useful tools in diagnosing medical problems in sugar gliders. It particularly detects pneumonia in animals of this size
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It is uncommon for owners to administer medication. If necessary, your veterinarian can advise you on the best way of giving medication to your sugar glider.
When needed, antibiotics are well tolerated by sugar gliders. Your veterinarian will be able to determine when antibiotics are necessary and will choose one based on your pet’s particular illness. To help in making clinical diagnoses, blood samples may be taken from the sugar glider after being given an anesthetic.
Malnutrition is common in sugar gliders; therefore, a proper diet and supplementation are very important. In addition to providing fresh water and a proper diet daily, regular cleaning of the enclosure, nest box, and the food and water dishes will help to keep your sugar glider healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be promptly removed from the cage if not eaten within a few hours.
A sugar glider should never be allowed to roam unsupervised outside of its cage as this may lead to injury. The sharp claws of sugar gliders sometimes get caught in the fabric of clothing or other objects. Care must be taken when freeing them from the cloth or object; their toes, wrists, or ankles could easily be broken.
Sugar gliders can be infected by bacteria, It is, therefore, very important to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning your pet’s enclosure and items within its cage, or after handling the sugar glider itself.