There are several diseases that sugar gliders might have, most of which are directly caused by poor nutrition. On the bright side, this means most conditions can be prevented by paying special attention to what you feed your sugar glider. However, finding the proper balance of minerals and nutrients can be difficult. Talk to an experienced sugar glider breeder or your veterinarian to develop a healthy feeding plan. Keep a close eye on your glider and take him for medical attention if he exhibits any of the symptoms of common sugar glider diseases.
When a sugar glider eats a diet insufficient in the vitamins and minerals he needs, he will begin to display signs of malnutrition. Symptoms of malnutrition may include changes in behavior, such as uncharacteristic fatigue, excessive sleepiness and lethargy. Changes in appearance may also occur, which can include weight loss, pale mucus membranes and the development of bruises. Very serious malnutrition can cause seizures and extreme bone weakness, evident by fractures and broken bones.
If malnutrition is treated early, the sugar glider has a good chance of full recovery. A veterinarian should be able to discover what is lacking or too excessive in the glider's diet and treat him accordingly.
Just like in humans, too much sugar can wreak havoc on the teeth of a sugar glider. Their teeth may rot, break or fall out if they indulge in too many sweets. Another dental danger for sugar gliders is a diet with too many soft foods. This can lead to tartar accumulation.
The biggest sign that your sugar glider is suffering from a dental disease is loss of appetite. However, this can also be caused by other health conditions, so it's important to see your veterinarian any time you observe a change of behavior in your glider.
Sugar gliders who do not get enough exercise may become obese. If your glider begins to appear plump or fat, or exhibits signs of difficulty in moving around his cage, he may be developing obesity. This condition can lead to many health problems, including conditions involving the heart, liver and kidneys.
In the wild, gliders are very active, running, jumping and hunting for food. Because captive sugar gliders do not have the forest as a playground and do not need to find their own food, their cage must be big enough to allow them the appropriate activity level. The minimum required cage size is approximately 3 feet by 3 feet for one sugar glider. Outfit the cage with toys that encourage activity, such as a running wheel.
Too much food or too much fat and protein in a sugar glider's diet can also cause obesity. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian for information on the diet requirements of sugar gliders.
Calcium deficiency in sugar gliders can cause metabolic bone disease, also known as nutritional osteodystrophy. This disease causes the glider's back legs to stop moving properly, or become completely paralyzed.
Osteoporosis is also a result of calcium insufficiency. This can cause the sugar glider's bones to become weak and easily broken.
A lonely sugar glider, especially a male who has not been neutered, can become stressed. He might start to chew on himself, eat too much, pace around his cage or eat his own waste. This condition is best remedied by having him neutered, or by providing him with a mate.
Corrie Agnew studied English with a writing concentration at Franciscan University in Ohio. Besides writing about various topics at Demand Studios, she also blogs and dabbles in short fiction. Her subjects of expertise include women's health and parenting.