Sleeping Pouch or Nest Box?
As sugar gliders continue to gain popularity, more and more hobbyists have become involved in raising sugar gliders on a small scale. I think most animal lovers find the whole marsupial thing incredibly fascinating and it is an experience a lot of folks would like to see for themselves. Raising sugar gliders is not a difficult thing to do, and to gain more general information on what to expect, we’ve offered four past newsletters just on the topic of breeding which you can find by going to our past newsletter archives found here:
Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part One
Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part Two
Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part Three
Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part Four
One question we did not address in these previous articles is whether or not there is a preference in using a nest box or a sleeping pouch with breeding sugar gliders. Here at SunCoast, we tend to use nest boxes with most of our breeding gliders. But that is a matter of practicality that I will discuss in a bit more detail further on. To be quite honest, I think sugar gliders prefer the fleece sleeping pouches. The pouches are cozier, and when given the option of a fleece pouch or nest box, the gliders nearly always choose the pouch!
We do use pouches with a few of our breeding pairs. Why do we do it with some of them and not all of them? First off, we make our nest boxes out of 4×6 inch black plastic index card boxes. We drill a 1¾ inch hole into the top and another into the side. We’ve opted to use these boxes simply because we have so many pairs of gliders they are much easier to wash, dry, and put back into service than a cloth pouch. So it is really a time saving method that we’ve devised.
Next, the boxes seem to work better for us with some breeding pairs than others. While most of our breeding gliders are very human friendly, we do have several pair that can be quite protective when new joeys come out of the pouch. These gliders are more easily checked on with the nest box setup because the boxes have a hinged lid, and we can check on them with minimal disturbance. An important aspect of breeding is to keep the environment as low stress as possible, particularly with the animals that can get overly protective with their new young.
Regardless of whether you go with a nest box or a sleeping pouch, we’ve found that locating the item lower in the cage may be quite beneficial, at least during the first 2-3 weeks that new joeys are out of pouch. The reason is that if for any reason the joeys end up outside of the pouch / box, they have a better chance of getting back into the family habitat if it is situated low in the cage. Baby sugar gliders cannot regulate their own body temperature when they are very young; it does not take them long for them to get very cold if away from the mother or father for too long. So our philosophy is to make it easy for a wayward joey to find its way back home if it should inadvertently crawl out of the sleeping compartment or be accidentally left behind.
If you choose to go with a nest box, we recommend those made out of plastic or plastic resin. These are our preferred choices for a nest box because they do not retain urine odors and are easy to keep clean and disinfect.
If the time to manage our breeding colony of gliders was the same using fleece sleep pouches or nest boxes, I would opt to have them all in sleeping pouches. As stated above, the gliders have spoken and have clearly indicated a preference of the pouch over the box. Several of our breeding pairs are in pouches and we’ve given them “special treatment” because they are just so extremely good natured that they don’t mind us removing their pouch from the cage (with them in it) to check on them and their new young, but these gliders are of the type that like to “show off” their new babies rather than the type that are protective and defensive.
Of the sugar gliders that we keep in sleeping pouches, we use the same type of fleece pouch all year round. Even in the summer heat of Florida, we have not found that the gliders sweat, or in any other way appear to be overheated in the fleece pouches. The fleece sleeping pouches that we use are, of course, the same ones offered in Arnold’s store (not all fleece pouches are created equally). The fleece we use is more of a medium weight than heavy weight fleece. I could easily imagine that heavier fleece or lined pouches could get rather warm for gliders in the summer months. And we also climate control our suggies during summer, so the “Sugar Shack” stays at a comfortable temperature year round. This time of year, we will not allow the temperature to go above 75 degrees. The gliders could take a bit warmer temperature than this, but we humans who are cleaning and feeding most of the day could not take it!
I would like to offer one last word of advice before I sign off. If you notice that your female glider has joeys in the pouch, this may not be the best time to change her sleeping compartment. With joeys in pouch, we think it very advantageous to make as few changes as possible. Moving the pouch from a high position in the cage to a low position is OK to do, and even with that, you can do it a little each night. Stress can be a major factor in losing baby sugar gliders. And since stress is often brought on by change, avoid any major changes in the complete glider habitat when your glider family is expecting a new bundle (or two) of joy!
Another Exciting Episode of … DEAR ARNOLD
Note: Some of Arnold’s fan mail may be edited cause Arnold wants some of them to be shorter so he can have more space all to himself! Yuk Yuk Yuk! And now … for more “thinking outside of the pouch” advice … here’s Arnold!
Hi my name is Sarah and I have 2 Sugar Gliders. The boy is Meeko
and the girl is Pebbles. Meeko has a bald spot on his head which I know is normal, but he also has a bald spot on his chest. I’m worried. He doesn’t seem sick because he’s always running in his wheel at night to prove that he has tons of energy. I was wondering what it could possibly be or if I’m just wondering about nothing. Please email me back.
Omigosh! Meeko has a bald spot on his head? And one on his chest? Well, flap me patagiums! Do you know what this means?! Meeko is NORMAL! Normal male gliders that have not been neuterized like me actually are s’posed to have two scent glands. So you are stuck with a normal boy as opposed to an extraordinary glandless boy like me!
I bought a wodent wheel from you guys about 10 months ago and it has become very squeaky. I am anxious about putting anything on the center of the wheel like WD-40 to lessen the squeaking because I am afraid my gliders will lick it off and get sick from it. Do you have any suggestions?
I am soooooooo glad you wrote to me first, cuz stuff like WD-40 might just permanently solve your squeak problem, if ya know what I mean! Stuffs like that could make sugsters very, very sick and they might end up running in that big wheel in da sky! Yikes! Better choices would be veggie oil – Dat should solve yer prob really fine!
Hi Lisa and Arnold!
Badger’s gland on his head is sticky – a tiny tuft of fur came out too today. I’m worried. Other than that, he’s just fine! Could this be something wrong? Or does he just got his head in his fruit? Thanks.
Hehehehe! Fruit on his head? Badger must be a silly ole bloke! It all sounds so very Carmen Miranda – didn’t she wear fruit on her head? I can picture it now! Hehehehehe!
Anywho, sugar glider male pattern baldness can be a bit different from bloke to bloke. Some have smaller drier bald spots and some have really, really big gooey bald spots. It’s prolly just Badger being a bit more manly than the rest of the blokes out there!
So dont’cha worry too much unless it gets red and infected lookin! Then maybe he really has a boo boo and should see the doc!
That’s all Blokes! Tune in again next month for another exciting episode of Dear Arnold! Don’t forget, you can share your short comments or fun questions with me by clicking here.
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On … Wet Tail
by Dr. C, of course!
What is “wet tail” and do sugar gliders get it?
“Wet tail” is actually the common name of a disease syndrome in hamsters. It can occur at any age but is more frequently used to describe the disease in young hamsters. Diarrhea is the most common sign noticed by owners, but it is actually a proliferative ileitis causing a glandular proliferation in the ileum. I know this is all very technical sounding – basically, it is caused by a specific intracellular bacteria. And only a veterinarian can determine if a hamster truly has “wet tail”, as there are many possible causes of diarrhea.
I am not aware of any cases of sugar gliders being affected by proliferative ileitis caused by this particular bacteria. There are however many causes and reasons why sugar gliders develop diarrhea. We get a lot of calls and emails from sugar glider keepers suspecting that their sugar gliders have “wet tail”.
While the outward signs may appear to be similar to those shown by hamsters, keep in mind that there are many causes and reasons why sugar gliders develop diarrhea. There are products on the market available in pet stores designed to treat “wet tail”. My advice to you is to not make the assumption that is what your sugar glider has. From my experience, it is not the likely cause at all. Improper diet, bacterial or viral infections, parasites, stress, and sudden diet changes are just some of the more common causes we encounter in sugar glider diarrhea cases.
Diarrhea can cause sugar gliders to become dehydrated and develop electrolyte imbalances quickly. If your pet develops diarrhea, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Soft stools may indicate the beginning of a problem, and watery stools should be attended to immediately. And with watery stools, the animals back end may appear wet. But do not assume that this is the same condition known as wet tail in hamsters.
As always, these topics are driven by your requests, so send your questions about glider health care issues by clicking here and we will do our best to include your request in a future edition of the GliderVet Newsletter. I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I’ll see you again next month!
(Janine M Cianciolo, DVM)