Frequently Asked Question:

Sugar Glider Nectar or Glideraid?

By Lisa 

We have received a ton of email asking our opinion on the use of Sugar Glider Nectar, and similarly branded Glideraid products.  We have tried a wide variety of products in this category, including Nekton, Glideraid, Gliderade, Glider Gold and Sugar Glider Nectar.

After testing all of these similar products, we found that the taste tests showed no real preference for any of the previously mentioned. Each of the formulas was well received.  We compared ingredients in each and found they had a similar base to them.  Basically these are all high carbohydrate powders that can be used either as a drink when combined with water (most common usage) or as a powdered sprinkle.  In addition to the high carbohydrate content, we looked at the ingredients and noted the content of electrolytes included in the formulation.  Dr. C will discuss the importance of electrolytes later on.

Veterinarians often prescribe the use of watered down Pedialyte as part of the treatment for sugar gliders recovering from illness or surgery because it is loaded with electrolytes.  We’ve found in our testing that given the choice between diluted Pedialyte or Sugar Glider Nectar, the gliders distinctly preferred the taste of the nectar.  Do not take this to mean that we recommend you substitute the usage of any of these products over a vet’s recommendation of Pedialyte as part of a treatment protocol.  We will, however, use these types of products for specific situations described in more detail below, and as you will soon see, all of the situations are “non-medical” in their applications.  We’ve ultimately chosen to use Sugar Glider Nectar at SunCoast as the content of ingredients was acceptable to Dr. C and this formulation was quite a bit less expensive than the alternate products we tried.  Why pay more if you don’t have to?

Sugar Glider Nectar is used for specific purposes here at SunCoast. We’ve found it to be beneficial to the high metabolic needs of sugar gliders and applications we’ve used it for include young gliders, sick gliders, nursing gliders and relocated gliders.  We have also received a large amount of community feedback and interest in products of this nature and many have successfully employed the use of Sugar Glider Nectar and similar products as an adjunct to a healthy diet plan.

Let us explain.  First and foremost, Sugar Glider Nectar, Glideraid, Nekton, etc. should not be used as main course offering or as a substitute for water.  If you plan on using this or similar products, we highly recommend that you limit its use to no more than every other day, and offer it with a typical balanced meal, plus provide access to fresh water.  We always offer Sugar Glider Nectar (when using liquid form) in a two ounce glass watering tube to limit the volume received by each glider.  Two gliders are offered a two-ounce serving (presumably one ounce per glider).  It is rare to find the bottle not completely empty by the next day.

Specific applications employed at SunCoast include an every two to three day regimen of Sugar Glider Nectar for joey sugar gliders recently separated from their parents.  We believe that baby gliders benefit from the high carbohydrate formula that supports the high metabolism of the sugar glider.  Additionally, it is not uncommon for young gliders to have softish stools from time to time as they are introduced to a variety of new foods.  The added electrolytes can be very beneficial in these circumstances.

Sick sugar gliders that have shown symptoms of diarrhea will benefit not only from the electrolytes, but also from the addition of more fluids in the diet.  Here we are referring to gliders showing mild symptoms of diarrhea or isolated instances of vomiting.  If the symptoms don’t clear up within 24 hours, or if the symptoms are severe, we strongly recommend a visit to the doctor’s office immediately.  Home remedy medication is not advisable with animals as small as gliders.  If they look sick, they may not have much time. When in doubt, see a doctor always!

Nursing sugar gliders will benefit not only from the addition of fluids, but from the extra energy supported by the carbohydrates found in this supplement.  Newly relocated gliders may experience some stress-related diarrhea, reduced appetites or other symptoms related to acclimation.  How many of you have brought a new sugar glider into your home and all it seemed to want to do is crab for the first week?  That big noise generated from such a small body seems like it could use up quite a bit of energy, so an energy booster drink like Sugar Glider Nectar may be just the ticket.  In addition to offering Sugar Glider Nectar in liquid form, you can also use as a food sprinkle or licky treat.  We tried it and it’s really quite tasty!

Do you have a picky eater on your hands?  We’ve found offering sugar glider nectar in its dry form sprinkled on top of that food they just won’t eat transforms the old yucky food into a delectable delight!

For healthy gliders, we recommend using the nectar up to a maximum of 4 times per week, in other words no more than every other day (maximum).  The reason we recommend how often Sugar Glider Nectar is offered and how much is offered (portion control) is because this product and its similar counterparts all include some variety of additional vitamins.  We do not believe this is a suitable substitute for regular vitamin dosages that are given as part of the good dietary plan.  However, some vitamins (and minerals) in excess can be harmful.  

Additionally, overdosing of vitamins can increase the normal odor of a sugar glider.  Please keep in mind that portion control with all parts of glider’s plan of nutrition is important and while we like this product very much, we strongly urge you to use in a manner that is supportive to your glider.  Overuse of this or any other type of supplemental formula may be ultimately harmful to the good health of your fuzzbutt!

And remember, no drink supplements offered to your sugar glider can be considered a substitute for clean, fresh water. In addition to offering Sugar Glider Nectar, your gliders should also have access to 8 ounces of water, changed daily.

Another Exciting Episode of DEAR ARNOLD

By 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!

Dear Arnold,

After reading every word on your website, I have gathered you guys really do care about the suggies and their well being.  With that said, I feel I should share my special story of how Hoover, our Sugar Glider, came into our lives.  Last Saturday morning I was cleaning out my ShopVac that had been outside overnight from a neighbor borrowing it.  To my surprise, inside one of the attachment extension tubes was a wet, disoriented Sugar Glider. 

At the time I had heard of them, but could not tell what it was since it was soaked and freaked out.  I immediately caught the little one and rushed it to an emergency vet in town.  After the vet cleaned her up and gave her an exam, we became the proud owners of Hoover. Later that day we went to a local pet store and bought Hoover the biggest cage we could find, including all the amenities.  

She has surprised us on how well she has adapted to us as new owners.  Considering how we found her, she’s very tame with a sweet disposition.  We simply love her!  Unfortunately, we could not find her original owners and have no idea about her past.  Since we want to make her life as happy as possible, we think getting her a female buddy seems like the right thing to do.

Eglin Eric

Dear E.E.

Wow!  That really “sucks” what happened to Hoover!  I am so happy to know that she chose your ShopVac to jump into! This whole story really blows me away!  I hope you are able to find her the perfect buddy.  I know you been on the speaky device with Lisa about this, and for all of my loyal fans out there, just remember this … if ya need a buddy for an older glider, you can’t just put a baby glider in and expect it will always go poifectly …. It’s always an option to try and find a same-age-glider.  Good luck Hoover and fambly!  And Hoovs Babe!  I think you are beyoootiful, even if ya hair did get a little mussed up!

Your buddy, Arnold
Dear Arnold,

It has been brought to my attention (and my “hooman’s”) that you are now offering a stuffed sugar glider for purchase.  We’re concerned.  Please tell us that a distant relative has not been slaughtered in the name of fun.  We’s just a tad bit worry-ed.  Mom works hard on the whole glider safety issue (new commit-tea – SGTA safety review comings soon) and we’s wants to make sure this is a real toy.  Arnold, is there any fambly resemblances?  Please respond. I can’t sleep until I know we’re all safe in our snuggly beds….

The Grinch and his mom, Charie

Dearest Grinch and Charie Hooman,

Yukity yukity yuk!  Methinks the Arnold T Schwarzenglider action figure strikes a remarkable resemblance to me …. Xcept he’s a lot bigger than me … but otherwise looks just like me … Xcept he has all four feet … he’s got my handsome good looks …. Xcept his eyes are always open … and his fur is not nearly as silky as mine … and I think that we both just appeared into the world one day .. Xcept I was born in a pouch he was born in sumptin’ called a factry …. but I’m glad you thought he was so lifelike that ya had to write me.  Can’t believe I fooled you, Grinch!  Yuk yuk yuk!

Luv, 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 Electrolytes

By Dr. C., of course!

Based on several emails we’ve received over time, it seems there are many questions concerning electrolytes.  What are they? What do they do?  Why are they important?  And why may your veterinarian sometimes suggest a liquid, such as Pedialyte, to replace electrolytes?

To explain electrolytes, we have to consider the body from both a chemical and biological perspective.  Biochemistry is complicated, but we will keep this explanation as simple as possible.

Bodies (yours, your sugar glider’s, your cat’s, etc.) are composed of chemicals and those chemicals have electrical charges.  Electrolytes are charged chemicals known as ions.  Many are salts and they can be negatively or positively charged.

Cells use electrolytes to maintain voltages across their membranes and to carry electric impulses (such as nerve impulses and muscle contractions).  The different ion charges (i.e., positive and negative) also are involved in moving body fluids such as blood and plasma.

Some of the major electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride and calcium.  There are other electrolytes, but for the sake of this article, we will focus on these for now.  Organs, such as the kidney, work to keep the electrolyte concentration in the blood constant.

Sodium is a major mineral element in the body.  It is often combined with chloride forming sodium chloride, commonly known as salt. Sodium is involved in all aspects of cell functioning and one of the most important jobs it has is to regulate water in the body.  It does this by changing the permeability of cell membranes.  Basically, it opens and closes gates (like floodgates in a dam), letting liquid in and out of cells.  In a state of dehydration, there is actually more water than sodium so water leaves the cells. The cells need sodium to keep the water inside.  In severe dehydration, water leaves the brain cells causing weakness, confusion and even seizures.

Potassium is a major component inside cells.  It is very important in regulating muscle contractions.  The most important muscle being the heart.  Electrolytes, including potassium, must be maintained in a delicate balance.  For instance, too much potassium can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, while too little can lead to abnormal rhythms and muscle weakness.

Chloride is also important in maintaining electrical charges in muscle and nerve cells.  An excessive loss of chloride, which usually occurs at the same time sodium is lost, can cause the body to become acidic, which disrupts the normal functioning of tissues and organs.

Calcium is another very important electrolyte.  It does more than just build bones and keep bones strong.  It also plays a major role in nerve impulse and muscle contraction, facilitates the body’s use of energy and certain vitamins, and acts to stabilize cell membranes.

As you can see, for a body to function in a healthy manner it must be in balance both chemically and electrically.  The electrolytes play a key role in this equation.  Many illnesses can cause electrolytes to become unbalanced.  Fixing chemical imbalances is one of the main factors your veterinarian considers every time your glider is treated.

Minor diarrhea and vomiting can cause electrolyte disturbances and veterinarians will often suggest giving your pet Pedialyte.  This liquid drink helps replenish sodium, chloride and potassium, as well as replenishing fluid loss.  In severe cases, your vet may hospitalize your glider and administer IO fluids.  This means putting fluids into the bone marrow cavity.  It is similar to giving IV (intervenous) fluids, but much easier to accomplish in small animals.  The type of fluid administered will depend on what was discovered from a blood profile (a test which measures the concentration of electrolytes and provides information concerning liver and kidney function).

Since electrolytes are so important in all aspects of physiology, it is important you contact your veterinarian as soon as any illness is noted.  It is much easier to correct or treat imbalances early before they become a life threatening issue.

Tune back in next month for a brand new topic!  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 them 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!

Dr. C. (Janine M Cianciolo, DVM)