Sugar Glider Odor

We often get asked what a sugar glider smells like.  Are they as bad as a ferret?  Well, we live with a lot of gliders and can tell you while they do have a smell, it’s not nearly as odiferous (is that a word?!) as the smell of a ferret.

In many cases, sugar gliders will have an unpleasant smell due to diet.  If fed incorrectly or overdosed with vitamins, they will emanate more odor than a well fed glider.  Certain proteins can also make the smell a bit more noticeable, but this is true with many species.  Good cage hygiene can also contribute to the smell factor.

Let us give you a few guidelines about controlling glider smell.  First off, let’s discuss cage cleaning.  One thing we’ve discovered is that if you clean the whole cage, all the toys, the sleeping pouches and every other accessory all at the same time, the gliders will compete with your cleaning efforts by re-marking.  So what we do is split up the cleaning days.  In other words, we only clean the cage one day.  Pouches and sleeping areas are cleaned on another day.  Toys and accessories are cleaned on yet another day.  This leaves at least some familiar scent in the glider habitat and it makes them feel more secure and less likely to go “overtime” on scent marking their home.

Female gliders and neutered males tend to mark territory less than intact males.  That is not to say that the aforementioned don’t mark at all, because all sugar gliders have scent glands capable of some territory marking.  But as we said earlier, with good diet and cage hygiene, this is not problematic for most people.

Intact males have very dominant scent glands that develop upon maturity.  They are quite obvious as one gland appears as a “bald spot” on top of the head and a second gland appears on the sternum (on the chest right under the neck).  Intact male gliders may also be inclined to urine mark.  Like many male animals, they seem to have the ability to conjure up something “extra smelly” when they are in the process of marking territory.  Many people ask if they spray, as a male cat would.  Sugar gliders don’t really spray.  For lack of a better word, it’s more like a “dribble”, but it’s urine marking nonetheless.

Now we are well aware that all of us humans have different tolerance levels for smell.  Sugar gliders make terrific pets for the right households, and for some folks the “smell factor” is the final decision on whether gliders should become part of your family or not.

Here at SunCoast, we are constantly on the hunt for new and effective products for sugar glider use.  We try and find “best of class” in all of our product offerings, with safety as a number one measure of quality.  And along with safety, we try to balance good pricing along with reliable availability.

Well, for the last couple of years we have been bringing you such a product sold under the name of Premira, designed to help eliminate sugar glider odor.  Premira also used to be sold under the name of Elimina and is a product that has been successfully used to help and control/eliminate sugar glider odor.  Much to our displeasure, the company that was making Premira has gone out of business.  So we had to get busy and try to find a product that that was at least as effective as Premira (Elimina) was.

This has been no easy task!  We’ve contacted quite a few pet odor control product manufacturers to ask them to send over their best available formulas for sugar gliders.  Well, not suprisingly, no one really makes a product specific for gliders.  So we tried products for ferrets, small mammals and birds, plus a few companies even made up special batches of stuff!  But nothing came close to Premira.

Well, lo and behold, as we were searching, we received an email from two of our favorite community members, Marc and Suzanne of Washington State.  They had found a product that they were thrilled with and thought we should check it out!  So we did.  And thanks to Marc and Suzanne, not only have we been able to procure a product as good as Premira, in many ways it’s quite superior!

The product is called GreenStump and it’s completely safe to use around children and pets.  Unlike Premira, which worked by spraying on the sugar glider’s food, GreenStump is a 3-in-1 odor eliminator, fabric and air freshener.  Before I go into more details on this new product, I’d like to share a rather funny personal story.

All products that are tested with our sugar gliders must meet with our vet’s approval before we will actually use it with any critter.

In the meantime, my sixteen year old cat had decided that urinating right next to the litter box was now just as fine as actually going in the litter box.  Holy Cow!  We have 200 pairs of sugar gliders and I think the smell of this one cat’s urine could outdo all of the sugar gliders put together.  Well, I just happened to have the “new product” sitting on my desk, so without haste I sprayed it all around the cat box.  After a brief minute or two, the disgusting odor went from Pee-U, to a slightly peppermint smell to nothing!  I mean nothing as in the smell of just pure, fresh, clean air!

After having tried an abundance of products while searching for the Premira replacement, GreenStump went immediately to the top of the list.  Not only is it the best recommendation we can give you to control glider odors, but many other odors you may encounter in your home as well.  Clean+Green Odor Neutralizer is a 100% food grade product with NO disclaimers for use around small animals, children or even people with asthma or allergies – and it costs less per ounce than Premira (Elimina) or PureAyre.  To get the full scoop on this terrific product, click here!

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!

Dear Arnold,

I saw a suggestion on another website to use a product called “Better Bitters” to help stop gliders from biting.  What do you think?

Dear Lisa,

Hehehehe! That’s my mommy tree’s name too!  Now to your question … that is about the dumbest, stoopiest thing I ever heard!

Ahem ….. Arnold … Lisa, your mommy tree, here … and what did I tell you about being so rude?  It is not nice to say stuff like that to humans – we can get our feelings hurt too you know.  Perhaps you can explain why you think it’s a bad idea, but no more insults, OK?

I sowwy!  OK!  Let me ‘splain to you why this idea is stoopid … er sowwy again … I mean just “not right”.  Us suggies get to know who our hooman friends are by going snffff, snffff …. see, we get to know you by your smell.  Now me knows a lot of things about lots of stuff.  For instance, some peoples will use Better Bitters on their hands to stop ferrets from nibbling on the hooman fingers … works for ferrets maybe … NOT works for suggies.

The whole idea is really distasteful!  Literally!  Why would ya want to make yersef not appealing to gliders and smell different when that is how we get to know ya?  See what I mean?  Try an experiment if ya don’t believe me.  Pick out sumptin that you think smells good … methinks you calls it perfume or colon …

Arnold, Lisa here again, I think you mean cologne?

Yeah, whatever! Cologne.  Spray some on yerself, then handle your gliders.  They will HATE you for it!  Well, hate might be a strong word, but we won’t know who you are and will treat you like a stranger and fuss and crab and guess what?  Maybe me more likely to bite!

Here’s the scoop Mates: not all stores really give a hoot about sugar gliders.  As for stores that tell ya stuff like this, methinks they don’t care.  Same goes for stores that sell glider leashes … for more about that see here … or stores that sell heat rocks for gliders … see here.

If ya really luv yer gliders, then buy their goodies from companies that luv yer gliders too.  There are lots of them out there and of course me little store ONLY sells stuff that’s good for me fine fuzzy pals!

Lisa, me really is sowwy for being so hard on ya.  It just makes me hoppin mad to hear stuff like this!  If ya wanna know how to help with biting stuff, then click here to read me past article called “love bites”.  Maybe that will help ya solve yer problem.  With all my love, and I do mean it cuz you have my mommy’s name too!


Well, 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…Glider Hair Loss – Part I   (Part II 

By Dr. C., of course!

I’ve received quite a lot of emails over the last couple of years asking why gliders sometimes lose their hair.  This can be a somewhat complicated topic, as many different issues can contribute to hair loss.  I will give you some of the reasons why this may occur.  As you may recall from a previous issue of the GliderVet Newsletter, some signs (such as hair loss) can be indicative of a wide variety of health-related issues.

First off, the condition of an animal’s coat and skin can often reflect the status of that animal’s health.  Sugar gliders who are sick often have flat looking fur.  “Bright eyed and bushy tailed” is an old saying that applies well to sugar gliders.  If a glider looks sick, I can pretty much guarantee the animal is sick.

Now let’s get to some of the reasons why hair loss can occur with sugar gliders.  My first question to any client who has a glider that is losing its fur would be to examine the diet.  Poor diet and / or the lack of certain vitamins and minerals could certainly contribute to hair loss.  Let me give you a case in point on how much diet can affect the appearance of an animal’s coat.  While this example does not directly relate to the loss of fur, it is an excellent example of just how much diet can affect coat appearance.

Back in the days when Debbie and Lisa were doing some limited rescue work, they encountered an individual that needed approximately 20 gliders relocated.  The woman who owned these gliders was convinced that she had some rather special and rare color variations in her breeding colony.  Lisa and Debbie made the arrangements to find a new home for this colony and one of the more interesting looking gliders came back to SunCoast.

After getting the glider transferred over to the diet plan used at SunCoast, the “multi colored” coat on the glider started to even out and appear more typically gray.  Now Butterscotch is as normal (and healthy) looking as one would expect a glider to be.  Needless to say, the previous owner of these gliders had a poor diet plan.  Part of what they were fed was Raviol-O’s. I don’t think I need to tell you again this just is not the appropriate type of food for a sugar glider.

I’ve heard speculation in the glider keeper community that hair loss can be attributed to a thyroid condition.  While it is true that in many species, endocrine conditions (a thyroid condition is a type of endocrine problem) can cause hair loss, there has been little to no research yet conducted on these diseases in sugar gliders.  Research and laboratory values for thyroid and other hormones must first be initiated and results evaluated before such claims can be validated.

Now that we’ve laid some initial groundwork on this topic, we will continue this article next month.  We will discuss more possible causes for hair loss in adult gliders as well as joeys.  We will also discuss some of the types of tests that your veterinarian may perform to properly diagnose the condition.

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 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)