Sugar gliders, on the rise in the pet trade thanks in part to their big, sweet eyes and zest for life, are not simple pets. The marsupials require strong social interaction and a lot of toys and accessories. They are heavily nocturnal. Stress is a common ailment for these little guys; a variety of causes can bring it on, including improper diet, boredom, improper hygiene and lack of social interaction. Stress manifests in many ways: Self-mutilation, diarrhea, pacing and hair loss are among other symptoms.
Take your sugar glider to an experienced sugar glider veterinarian at the first sign of symptoms to rule out other causes and confirm stress. Many of the symptoms of stress are the same as those for a variety of other sugar glider ailments.
Have your sugar glider neutered if he is an intact male. Intact males are more prone to stress, partially due to sexual frustration.
Check out his cage and what's inside it. Sugar gliders need a lot of room to glide, climb and play. The cage should be a minimum of 24 inches by 36 inches by 24 inches. If it's not this big, get a bigger one. Remember that bigger is always better for sugar glider habitats and they should be tall as well as wide. He also needs stuff to occupy his mind in his cage. Furnish toys, perches and hammocks.
Adopt a second sugar glider. Sugar gliders crave social interaction and live in fairly large groups in the wild. Having two gives these nocturnal creatures companionship while you sleep. Introducing another glider can quickly reduce and relieve a single sugar glider's stress -- but not in all cases. Follow a standard pet-acclimation procedure, introducing each other first with smells and then short encounters. Most sugar gliders are eager to accept a new friend.
Spend more quality time with your glider at night when he's most active. Gliders love to be carried around while snuggled in a pouch or pocket, and they thrive on social interaction.
Clean his cage out more frequently. Poor cage hygiene can quickly lead to stress.
Set up a glider room for playing. A room that has a lot of man-made trees, perches and pouches set up for your glider can greatly alter his whole mood and reduce his stress. The room needs to be "glider-proof" though, so he can't get into dangerous situations or out of it.
Check out his diet and make sure he's getting everything he needs and most of what he's craving. The sugar glider is omnivorous, so he needs a diet of pellet meal along with some insects and bits of fruits and veggies.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.