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Covering the Basics

For Newbies: Covering the Basics



 Welcome to GliderCENTRAL! I encourage you to register (if not yet done) so you can take full advantage of the board (posting in all the forums). It's fast, and it's free!

Gigantic kudos for doing your research in advance. I'm not sure what your current research has revealed, so what I'll add could very well be redundant. Read through the posts in the major forums under Glider Care: Health, Diet, Bonding, Housing—those are the biggies to know about. Especially pay attention to the “stickies” at the top of each forum. If you want to know what the major cons are, especially read through the Health & Hygiene and Real Stories forums. Also, from a couple of other sites, here are helpful pages with links and tips:

The first thing to know is that sugar gliders are a long-term commitment; they can live 15 years in captivity. They are colony critters and do best with a same-species companion they can cuddle in the pouch with and play with at night. They bond very deeply to one another and to their “slaves” (that's you ), and it can be quite traumatic to have this bond broken. Here are a couple of articles you might enjoy:

Getting them at the same time from the same breeder (e.g., siblings) saves you from getting duplicates (cage, toys, pouches, wheels, etc.), having to quarantine the newbie (and read this: Quarantine does no good unless...), taking him or her (and your current, if not yet done) to a glider-knowledgeable vet, and following proper introductions:

If you get a boy or boys, it's helpful to have him/them neutered while at the vet's office. Neutered boys are less aggressive, making for sweeter gliders. Of course, you need to wait for signs of sexual maturity (dropped poms, “bald” spot on forehead).

Sugar gliders can be quite expensive to care for. Glider ownership is not to be taken lightly, and they may not be the perfect pet for you. If, after all of your research, you decide to make this lifelong commitment, there are several places to look for your gliders. Places not to buy are flea markets, trade shows, and malls. You'll want a reputable USDA-licensed breeder. As a starting place, look through the Breeder Database and Glider Ads.

Diet is one of the most controversial, yet most important considerations. Check out the diet page and Suz's site: Feeding Your Joeys & Adult Gliders. Captive gliders have specialized dietary needs with the proper blend of nutrients (with protein, fruits, veggies, vitamins, and calcium). For some of the diets, you should be able to find all of the ingredients in a grocery store and pet store. Other diets will require you to shop online, which means you need to not only think ahead in buying supplies, but in mixing and having their meals ready in advance. You will want to find one that will suit your lifestyle and your gliders' preferences. You'll want to follow whatever diet you choose, as outlined. Don't mix and match the various plans or ingredients or you'll throw off the overall calcium to phosphorus (Ca:P) ratios, as well as introduce other unhealthy imbalances.

Gliders are sap suckers, which means they'll take the food, suck out the juices and nutrients, and then spit out the remains (often in crescent moon-shaped pieces). Here's a link with info on glider kitchens. Putting their dishes in these kitchens will greatly contain the mess.

Under Diet & Nutrition, you'll find several great stickies:
And here is a SunCoast article with more info: What NOT to Feed? There are definitely some foods you should avoid or feed only in moderation. There are also great threads under Diet & Nutrition 101 covering various diets and other diet-related topics.

If you want to try your hand at calculating your own glider-safe diet, or even if you just want to look up the various nutrients in what you're currently feeding, here's a great tool: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Remember that there is more to a glider-safe diet than a proper Ca:P ratio (roughly 2:1). Will you be offering foods too high in iron, tannins, oxalates, vitamin C (just to name a few); foods that can cause gas or diarrhea or constipation; foods that are dangerous or toxic? Personally, I'm too lazy (and brain dead) to learn all I would need to learn, and I appreciate those who have blazed the trail and done all the work for me.

As far as a cage, the bigger the better. The absolute minimum size for a single glider is 3'x2.5'x3' (taller is better than wider). For two or more gliders, you'll want a larger cage (you can double the height). When you consider a glider's natural range is several miles, you can imagine how the largest cage possible would best suit their needs. If you're thinking of upgrading later, wait and buy the larger cage now. It will save you money in the long run. It has to have pvc- or powder-coated (no galvanized!) wire, with bar spacing no wider than 1/2". Pay attention to the door size so you can easily clean and get your goodies (like a wheel) in. You'll need to keep the cage, toys, and pouches clean, as well as provide fresh food and water each day. I recommend at least two water bottles, in the event one leaks dry or malfunctions. If your gliders aren't chewers, and you prefer, many folks use reptariums. They come in various sizes, there are vendors who make goodies for them, and they're easy to toss in the wash to clean. As far as cleaning, remove dishes and old food each morning and provide fresh each night. Rotate cleaning the cage, pouches, toys, wheels; don't clean everything at once or your gliders will go into overdrive remarking everything with their lovely scent. tounge

In addition to what's in our Cage Information subforum, here are some links with cage ideas and cages:

I've got both the hex and Exel cages. The next ones I buy will probably be the Avian Adventures because you can just add on to the one cage rather than buy a new one when you want to expand.

You can check out the Glider Things section for all kinds of glider goodies. Once you've been bitten with glideritis, you'll find yourself budgeting for toys. Many baby toys are safe for gliders, so you can also find a lot of goodies in the baby section at places like Walmart. Be careful of cat toys, as they may contain catnip (even if not labeled as such). The Barrel of Monkeys toy is a favorite of many gliders. A glider-safe wheel is a necessity. Some wheels have inserts that will help keep the nails trimmed. Those inserts don't seem to work for me. You'll want to make sure you do keep the nails trimmed periodically so they don't get caught and struggle to get free (and get hurt).

Nail trimming has got to be one of the most odious tasks (for both the glider and the slave). Here are some nice sites with tips and pictures on trimming nails. You want to remove just the very tip. Have styptic powder or flour on hand, just in case you cut too close. Do it during the daytime while they are the sleepiest.

You'll also want a good supply of pouches (both sleeping and bonding). You can look through the Glider Things forum for pouches from a variety of vendors. Mine prefer the kind with windows and zippers; others are okay with drawstring instead of zippers. I wouldn't recommend Velcro; your glider's tail could get stuck on the velcro itself, making it quite scary for your glider as you try and free him or her. Be sure you check your pouches daily for loose strings. Gliders can get their nails, toes, and fingers stuck in those, struggle, twist, and seriously injure themselves. If you decorate your cage with fake vines, be sure they don't have wires in them. Here's a sticky in one of our forums with Hazardous toys or toy parts list. You can also make fleece ropes and vines. Fortunately, there are also generous folks who have shared ideas for making your own pouches, as well as other goodies.

Most importantly, sugar gliders are considered exotics. This means one of the biggest considerations for you is finding a glider-knowledgeable vet (although, in an emergency, any vet will do). Print out this sticky, Vet Consult #'s to take to your vet, especially if he or she is not comfortable treating sugar gliders. You can check out the Vet Directory as a starting point to see if there are any in your area. (Also check out Lovable Pocket Pets' Vets and Atnetworld Veterinarians Directory.) Call around and ask some basic questions (e.g., how much experience do they have with sugar gliders? how much does a wellness exam cost? what about emergency visits? how much are basic tests?). Gliders can hide their illnesses very well; it's a survival tactic in the wild because the weak are easy prey. This means that you may not notice symptoms until it is almost too late, and oftentimes, you will be making emergency visits. Being nocturnal, that's when you'll notice behavior changes and other indications of a possible problem (after hours). It's always wise to have a glider fund set aside for just such events; $500 minimum (per glider) is a good amount to always have on hand. Once you get your babies (if you do), you'll want to take them in for an initial wellness check to establish a baseline of health and a relationship with your vet. Some vets are less inclined to see gliders in an emergency (should one arise) if they haven't seen them before.

Be sure to check out the stickies in the Health & Hygiene forum, especially:

  • Body Language of a Sick glider
  • Wellness/Emergency Exams/Necropsies/Syringe Meds
  • Will your Glider Self Mutilate/ Bourbon& Ecollar

    Here's our page with bonding links, if you haven't found it yet. And here's a great sticky: Into the bonding pit. The key will be to go at their pace, not yours. They will need to get used to you—your scent, your voice, your movements. Being separated from their families and moving to a new home where everything is unfamiliar can be quite stressful. It's best to start bonding with the noninvasive techniques. Wear fleece scraps and then put the “blankies” in their pouch to sleep with. Sit by their cage and talk to them, or read a book out loud. After they've gotten used to your scent and voice and don't crab or try to bite when you approach them, take them out during the day while they're sleeping and wear them in a bonding pouch. They will need to learn to trust you, and associate you with good things. Be prepared to have lots of time, patience, and love (and treats) on hand to form a lasting bond with your babies. Tent time always helps with the bonding process. Here's a good link on that: Critter Hill tent time. You can pick up a nice tent at places like Walmart or Target or a sporting goods store for around $20-$30. Here's an alternative for folks with less flexible joints. Different vendors have these pop-up showers (e.g., Sportman's Guide, or a KMart's double shower).

    The key is lots of time and patience and love. That said, here is a newsletter from SunCoast, Are You a Glider Whisperer? While gliders do operate on a trust and fear basis (not love and hate), you do need to let them know you're the boss, so to speak, by being calm and assertive. Giving them an indefinite amount of time to adjust tells them they can crab at you and keep you away indefinitely.

    Some breeders will work with you to begin the bonding process in advance. You can send scented fleece scraps in baggies to the breeder to put in the joeys' pouch before they come home to you. You might end up with sweet, bonded “pocket pals” or bra babies (ones who are quite comfy sleeping in your bra during the day). I wear two camisoles with built-in bralettes and mine all rest between the two layers of fabric. It's a great way to bond! Or, you may start out with fearful, crabby biters. Here are a couple of links to help understand their behavior:

    You'll also want to glider proof your rooms, just in case your sugar babies escape from the cage. Here is a good link to get you started on that: Glider Proofing Your Home. You will want to specifically glider proof your bathroom: e.g., safely store all chemicals; look for and seal all openings (e.g., into the walls); always leave the toilet seat down, and put a toilet ladder in there, just in case. Many a glider drowning has been prevented by using toilet ladders (see Suz's site).

    You'll find lots of help on this board. Just remember, there are no dumb questions. Feel free to post whatever questions you might have in the most appropriate forum(s). We're all here to help!

    Written by: KattyM

  • Do not self-diagnose
    If you feel your glider is sick, please seek immediate veterinary assistance. The information on this page and in the correlating articles is for general educational purposes and is not intended to replace proper vet care. Please do not try to self-diagnose or self-treat your glider.
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