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Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes!
Welcome to the April edition of the GliderVet News. Last
month, one topic we discussed was keeping gliders as solo pets and as
some topics do, this one inspired a lot of correspondence from the
This month weíve decided to drill down a bit deeper into this topic and
to directly answer the emails of three correspondents.
There were a lot of great emails and great stories shared with
us. We chose to share these with you because they each drive home
an important point about glider husbandry.
Thank you to all whoíve taken the time to write in. Your
experiences help all of us learn and we appreciate each of you.
Please remember that this newsletter is intended to express the
wishes of the whole sugar glider community.
Every article published in this newsletter is a result of someone just
like you taking the time to write us with thoughts, ideas, stories and
Send your comments to us here.
If you ever want to find earlier issues of GliderVet News, you can access our
archives here. Fun pics of sugar gliders
sent in by our customers are found here.
If you are looking for sugar glider tested and approved products, check out our
ever expanding store here.
Are you new to sugar gliders or just in the early stages of trying to decide
if one is right for you? Questions you can ask yourself to help make this
very important and long term decision are here.
A very confusing area for those considering glider ownership (and for
some current owners too!) is diet. See what our vet has to say here.
And if you decide that a sugar glider (or two!) would become future members of
your household, then you might want to check out Arnold's great deals on starter kits,
with or without cages.
Will a sugar glider die if left alone?
I have one male glider that I got when he was 4 months old. He is a
year old now and seems healthy and happy. After I spent all my
money on him (and maybe a few other things) I talked to someone that
said I may
as well consider him dead if I donít get another one soon.
Although he was
wrong, I still thought the glider would be happier with a friend.
The glider I have is neutered, so I figured when I bought it if it
breed who cares. Now I get second thoughts when he cries out in
the night, looking for friends.
I got a big cage recently and was about ready to ask if an older glider
(a year old), thatís been alone for about
8 months would be ok in the same cage with a new companion. Then
I got this newsletter.
So I guess my question is: Is it too late?
This is a great question and one we get asked often. I do
believe that over time,
gliders tend to forget their true nature. Gliders are very much
creatures of habit and if the status quo has been as a single kept
critter, they do often get used to their circumstances.
Please do not read this to mean or insinuate that just because they
donít die, they are happy.
I often hear people say that they WILL die if kept alone. This
is an absolute statement that cannot be supported by existing
But it does apply in some cases. Fact is, some gliders will die
from starvation, if they refuse to eat.
This is an extreme example of depression. Single kept gliders
often show some signs of depression and one of those signs may be
under-eating or refusal to eat at all. The cause of death
is a result of starvation.
And I think we can safely surmise that the depression which caused the
act of starvation was brought on by lack of companionship.
Most indicators show that single kept gliders often tend to over-eat and become obese and sluggish.
Of course, this is not healthy. Overeating is likely a sign of boredom.
Gliders can get bored easily and is one of the reasons we recommend large cages with lots of toys.
We also emphasize portion control, even for gliders with buddies. Some gliders
over-eat and it seems to be a more common predicament with those that are kept solo.
Weíve also discussed the extreme and brutal behaviors of self
mutilation in last monthís newsletter.
This is another sign that can develop as a result of being kept
alone. Gliders often groom each
other; this is an integral part of their social interaction and one
that is not met just because they get to hang out with their human for
several hours each day.
Some things we canít do for them. When gliders groom themselves
excessively, escalation into more serious behavior patterns may result
in self mutilation.
Not all self mutilators result from behavioral dysfunction. It
could be medical as well and gliders kept with buddies have been known
to exhibit this disorder.
The most puzzling cases of all are the aptly labeled ďmystery
deathsĒ. The gliders are eating normal, well-balanced portions, not
over grooming or self-mutilating, but just seem to lie down and
Itís as if they have lost the will to live. Unfortunately Iíve
experienced some of these events personally.
I try my best to re-colonize critters that have recently lost their
This is problematic when you have animals that have been together for
In some cases, it seems like certain gliders pine for a particular
friend and a replacement friend will not always fill the void.
More often than not, we can re-colonize the widows or widowers with
But not always. Gliders develop very strong connections. It
is that very quality that makes them great pets, but it also leads us
to believe that they can get broken hearts.
The thing we want to do is to lessen the risks of any bad behavior
patterns through proper husbandry.
All we can really control is the level of risk in keeping exotic
pets. The risk factors for a variety of undesirable patterns
increase greatly when gliders are kept
But when is it ďtoo lateĒ to introduce a companion? Is a
successful introduction guaranteed?
All I can say in response to this is that the older the animal is, the
less inclined that animal may be to accepting a new companion.
I do not think a year old is too old to try. I do not think two
years old is too old to try.
But once you start getting much past that, I think again the risk
And the only introductions that I think one can guarantee is with young
Younger animals are much more malleable than their more mature
As gliders get older, the sense of territoriality increases. Some
strong minded gliders may never accept certain companions and will be
fine with others.
But the only way to figure this out and know for sure is to try it by following proven introduction
In your case, I would encourage you to find a similarly aged glider and
introduce them over a period of time.
I find neutered males are less territorial than intact males or females
and are typically the easiest of the mature animals to re-colonize.
Report from the Community:
Happiness is having a friend to call your own!
We got our first glider a month ago. He is a year and a half
He had been living singly since they (the previous keepers) got
him. He seemed fine, but since I kept reading over and over that
they need to be in colonies, we got another one, approximately the same
age that had also been raised alone.
I can't tell you the difference in his behavior. He's up
earlier, they play all night, he's eating better.
I can't explain, but they just seem "happier". The second one we
got was fairly tame, but hadn't been handled a lot recently.
The first one was quite wild and immediately bit if I tried to handle
I work with them constantly, but the difference when I got the second
one was definitely noticeable.
He is now tamer than the second one we got. If I put my hand in
the cage, day or night, he pops up out of his bag to check it out and
usually jumps right to my arm to come see me for a bit.
I definitely believe they should be in groups! And, I am very
lucky that I found two that get along so well right off.
Your story is actually indicative of what typically happens when you bring a new pal around for your single sugar glider.
I appreciate you sharing it with us.
We feel obligated to tell our subscribers about the other stuff that
could happen, but in most cases, your experience is the
norm; Iíve seen it many times. Single glider gets pal.
Happiness indicator zooms up in a major league move.
Itís hard for folks inexperienced with gliders to know if they are
happy or not.
You have to live with them, lots of them, to really appreciate how
different their personalities are and how they each express their
version of happiness in their own way.
Your story goes right to the heart of the point we so often try and
Why do gliders bark?
I've emailed you once before about my two gliders appropriately
named Thing one and Thing two.
My question is about barking. I have read it is used for locating
other members of the group, but Thing one will bark and bark and Thing
two just sits there very still, almost as if she is teasing the other
Do they have the capability to actually tease each other or is there
some other reason she sits very still while the other is barking.
I can usually quiet her by going to the cage and petting and talking to
her, but she seems to do this almost every night.
In the wild, would one glider respond to another glider's
barking? Should I be concerned that Thing two does not respond in
Should I be concerned that Thing one does this most every night?
Your input about this would be most helpful to me. Your prompt
response to my last email was amazing!
Oh, and by the way, I had purchased Zookeeper's secret for my gliders
and have been mixing the old food I had with yours as to not upset
diet. Well, it didn't really matter because they pick out all the
Zookeeper's Secret and won't eat any of the old food anymore! They love
We believe that gliders bark for
different reasons, none of which is to tease another glider.
Let me explain. Just like a human scream may express vastly
different emotions or warning, so it is with the glider bark.
You may scream if someone jumps out and scares you. So you scream
out of fright.
You might also scream if you found a winning lottery ticket in your
So you scream out of excitement for being able to finally buy that
deluxe cage youíve always wanted!
These are two vastly different emotions, but the sound that comes out
is quite similar.
It seems that the glider bark may be used as a form of
warning. For example, if an intruder enters the glider territory,
a scout glider would pass a warning signal to the others.
We feel the bark fits this type of behavior and this is why the other
gliders remain motionless.
It is more apparent when you see this in a huge colony setting.
One glider barks, all the others freeze.
The other reason a glider seems to bark is a call. Many people
have concluded that their glider barks a lot because they are lonely
and itís often the barking that prompts many glider keepers to seek a
buddy for their solo pet.
But do not think for a minute that this is going to quiet a frequent
As you know, my pal Arnold lives with three other gliders. Arnold
barks all the time.
Well how can he be lonely with three other gliders, a huge cage and so
I can tell you that Arnold is seeking my attention. He wants
me to play with him.
As soon as I acknowledge his bark, he stops. I can tell his
special ďhey come here and play with meĒ bark because he is firmly
situated on the main door of his cage to jump immediately to my arm as
soon as the door is opened.
He tries to open it himself when he knows Iím nearby, but itís too
large for him to maneuver, but you can sure tell he is trying.
I will often acknowledge his call by going to him, but sometimes I will
This came in particularly handy when I had two of my fuzzbutts
bunking down in my bedroom.
Itís not always convenient, or pleasant to get up at 3AM to play with
So by barking back, I would acknowledge them and could often (but not
always) put a halt to the chatter.
I find the bark one of the cutest sounds the glider makes, and itís not
so loud that neighbors in an apartment building will be disturbed by
this, but it will wake you up if they are nearby.
One night, Buddy escaped his cage and came into my room looking for me.
Sydney, who was one of the gliders who
lived in my room, started barking non-stop.
It was one of those nights that I really didnít feel like getting up,
so I barked back, repeatedly, to no avail.
I finally got up because her barking was more rapid fire than usual and
she was highly persistent to get my attention.
As I approached the cage I saw a small shadow moving along the floor
and as I bent down to investigate, Buddy jumped to me.
So barking can also be used to tattle on other mischievous gliders.
The bark is a sophisticated form of clear communication for
gliders. We suspect it is used to warn, or to locate others
Try tuning in to your gliders and see if you can figure out what they
are saying to you.
The clues to their language can often be seen in how the others gliders
around them act.
Trying to figure out the messages in Glider-ese is a fun part of our
activity here at
SunCoast - and especially if you learn to talk back!
'Til next time, in good health for you and your gliders, we sign off
in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures with
----->=< ---->=< ---->=< ---->=<
Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
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That's it for this month's GliderVet Newsletter. I hope you liked what
we had to offer! If you have any stories, questions, pictures, suggestions
for topics - anything glider - you would like to share or see covered in the
GliderVet newsletter, please send them here.
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SunCoast Sugar Gliders
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