SUGAR GLIDER CARE SHEET
You'll find that each person/breeder varies a bit in the way that they care for their gliders when it comes to cage sizes, playtime, diet, etc... So, I'm going to offer you a care sheet based on how we care for OUR gliders.
***Before buying a sugar glider, keep in mind that they can live 15 years, they cannot be potty-trained, they throw their food everywhere, have complex diets, and require lots of DAILY attention!***
Diet and nutrition:
Gliders have very complex dietary needs. Unlike most animals, you cannot feed gliders a diet based solely on dry kibble. They need fresh fruits and vegetables every day, as well as a source of calcium and protein. This may seem complicated, however, thanks to the dedication of glider owners and their veterinarians, we no longer have to worry about our gliders getting the right nutrients as long as you feed them an "approved" diet. There are quite a few diets out there, a few of which I've tried, but the one I've settled on is the Ensure Diet(also known as Darcy's Diet). I've tried BML, HPW, and Priscilla's Diet(also known as The Pet Glider Diet) as well, but for various reasons I've chosen the Ensure Diet. My gliders love it and are doing great on it, they lick their plates clean each night, and all of the joeys born on this diet have been nice and healthy as well. :)
Here’s the recipe for the Ensure Diet:
1 tablespoon fruits
1 tablespoon vegetables
1 tablespoon protein
1 tablespoon regular Ensure with calcium* added
(if you have female that has joeys IP or is nursing add an extra serving of each ingredient)
*Some people use calcium carbonate, but for my gliders I add 250mg of Calcium Citrate(nothing added, just the Calcium Citrate). The brand name is Nature's Way and it can be bought in certain health stores or on the internet. I get mine on Ebay.
Below is a list of the fruits, veggies, and proteins that I feed.
VEGGIES: Peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, collard greens, and bell peppers
FRUITS: Papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, and apples(I usually blend 1 of the melons with a large jar of applesauce, pour the mix into ice cube trays, and freeze them. Serving 1 cube per pair of gliders.)
PROTEIN: Yogurt, eggs(scrambled or hardboiled), chicken(plain, boiled), and shrimp
No matter which diet you choose to feed, I would recommend that you talk to your vet about it and get their opinion. Just because a diet is "approved" does not make it the best diet for your babies. Some gliders may do better on BML, while others prefer Priscilla's Diet, and others yet may do best on the Ensure Diet. It will depend on you, your gliders, and your vet. The best thing you can do is to be sure to research the diet yourself, talk it over with your vet, and don't feed something you aren't comfortable with.
Also, since we’re on the subject of food, here is a list of a couple good treats: mealworms(a #1 must have! You can buy them at www.grubco.com, www.nyworms.com, and an most local pet stores or you can learn how to farm your own: How to Farm Mealies), dried fruits/veggies, yogies or yogurt drops, and pine seeds(in moderation because they are fattening). A great place to get lots of treats for a great price is www.suzsugargliders.com.
To see a list of safe fruits/veggies to feed, check this website: http://www.kryskritters.com/SafeFruitsVeggies.html
*DO YOU HAVE A PICKY GLIDER? If so, check out these recipes for a fruit smoothie and veggie relish: http://www.kryskritters.com/recipe.html
Sugar gliders should have a cage that is at LEAST approx. 3'x3'x2', but bigger is always better! If you want a big cage, but don't have alot of money to spare, take a look at our tutorial. Using the simple tutorial you can build 2'x3'x6' cage for under $100!
Click here to see the cage-building tutorial
Not only do they need a large cage, but they also need lots of comfy bedding(pouching, hammocks, fleece ropes, etc…) and toys! The bedding is to sleep in and play on and the toys are for enrichment. Gliders are extremely energetic and intelligent animals and if you don’t give them proper attention and toys then they will easily get depressed. If depressed, a glider may stop eating or self-mutilate and get sick or even die.
Some people use nest boxes in their cages, but these are not NEEDED(although I've found that my gliders love them!). I especially don’t recommend wooden ones because they are difficult to wash and become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, so if you get some, be sure to get plastic or fleece ones.
If you don't already know how to make a pouch, we've also got a tutorial for how to sew a simple pouch that's nice and cozy.
Click here to see the pouch-making tutorial
Also, remember that gliders are nocturnal creatures and come from places that are warm(Australia). You need to keep their room at about 70-85 degrees at all times. At night, be sure to turn of the lights in their room so they can come out to play comfortably.
Gliders are VERY social animals and, if cared for properly, will consider you to be one of their colony members once they are bonded with you.
For the first few days I recommend leaving your new glider(s) alone and allow them get used to their new environment. I know it’s hard to resist their cute little faces and you just want to touch them, but if you can resist them the first couple days then I guarantee that it will make the bonding process a LOT easier. Once the glider is comfortable in his/her/their new cage and you make sure that it is eating/pooping/peeing alright THEN you can begin the bonding process.
There are many ways to bond:
* Scent blanket- during the first couple days, while your glider is adjusting, carry around a small square of fleece on your body(in your bra if you’re a woman, or tucked in your shirt if you’re a guy). After the glider is adjusted, put the piece of fleece in the pouch your glider sleeps in. This will help him/her get used to your scent.
* Carry your glider(s) around in a bonding pouch(a zippered or pull-string pouch so the glider can’t come out) during the day while it is sleeping. This helps them get used to your smell and voice.
* Tent time- buy a small pop-up tent to set up in your house. Bring your glider in it as well as a few toys and treats. As you sit in the tent with your new glider he/she/they will eventually come out of the pouch and, because the tent is small, will be forced to interact with you and will probably start climbing around on you and trying to play with your toes and hair. Ha ha.
* Bribery- this may not be a form of bonding, but it certainly helps to teach your glider that your presence means good stuff. Try to always keep some treats near the cage or in your pocket. Whenever you peek in the pouch, offer the glider(s) a small treat. If the glider is running around in the cage, try and coax him/her over to you with a treat.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GLIDERS OR HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
If so, check out this great sugar glider forum: www.glidercentral.net
It’s full of links for vets, breeders, stores, etc… There are thousands of members on the forum, myself included. Feel free to go there to learn more about these wonderful animals or to meet more people in your area who own them.
Another site that is loaded with useful information, including how to care for rejected joeys, is www.suzsugargliders.com. Please check out Suz's site before getting a glider or deciding to breed to make sure you know exactly what you're getting into. ;)
Also, feel free to contact me if you have specific questions.
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