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Sugar Gliders and Sugar Bears|Illnesses
Aflatoxicosis

This is a condition of the liver (hepatic disease) created by the ingestion of aflatoxins. These are metabolites produced by fungi in or on foods and other feed sources that are toxic. The highest risk of contamination exists among corn, peanuts, and cottonseed. Aflatoxins can lead to cancer. A common way for a Sugar Glider to become contaminated with aflatoxins is by eating crickets or other insects which have been exposed to contaminated corn, or by eating peanuts or moldy feed
 

Causes

  • Eating corn, or peanuts that are contaminated, or insects who have been eating feed contaminated with aflatoxins.

Prevention

  • Do not allow your glider to eat insects or peanuts.
  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org

Signs and Symptoms

  • Decreased appetite
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the membranes or skin)
  • Anemia
  • Sleeping and disinterested in playing
  • Diarrhea and other Gastrointestinal abnormalities

Treatment

  • This is treatable if caught quickly.
  • Contact an ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately. You must act fast as once the symptoms are present because it can kill in a matter of HOURS.


Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency is a common trait in sugar gliders because most of the foods they eat have an improper balance of calcium and phosphorous. This can lead to paralysis of the hind legs, and is potentially fatal.

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org This is a very essential part of their health and well-being.

Treatment

  • This condition is usually reversible if caught early enough. Contact an ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately. You must act fast as once the symptoms are present.


Constipation

Constipation is caused by the elimination of hard, dry excretions of the bowels. It can be painful, and in some cases even impossible, to defecate during extreme cases and create a serious condition.
 

Causes

  • Low fiber in diet
  • Not drinking enough liquids
  • Certain medications
  • Not enough exercise
  • Stress
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Poor diet

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org
  • Make sure your glider always has fresh, bottled water
  • Give your glider plenty of toys to play with and opportunity for exercise
  • Watch to make sure stools are healthy

Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty having a bowel movement as shown by straining, or crying
  • Infrequency of bowel movements

Treatment

  • Giving your glider baby food prunes, and orange juice can help as a temporary measure until you get veterinary assistance
  • Give your glider a small portion of mineral oil.
  • Contact an ASGV™ member veterinarian as quickly as possible


Contact Dermatitis (humans)

This is red spots and irritation caused by the animal’s sharp nails coming in direct contact with human skin.

Causes

  • Allergies and a hereditary tendency toward allergies
  • Varying degrees of severity in the same person at different times
  • The gliders nails are seen as allergens by the skin and the immune response causes the inflammation of the skin.
  • Prolonged exposure can increase sensitivity, and over time the condition can develop even when not initially present.

Prevention

  • Wear clothing that covers the most amount of skin when handling your glider if you have exceptionally sensitive skin
  • Wash your skin frequently - especially after handling your glider.

Signs and Symptoms

  • A rash located only in the areas where the glider has had direct contact with the skin.
  • Itching of the skin in the infected areas.
  • Swelling of the infected area
  • Blisters or pimple-like rash where your glider’s paws have come in contact with skin
  • Warmth or tenderness in the affected areas

Treatment

  • Remove irritants with a thorough washing
  • File your Glider’s nails. See educational “Nail Filing” video at www.asgv.org
  • Apply anti-bacterial and anti-itch Cream to the affected area, being careful not to overmedicate


Dehydration

This situation is created when the glider doesn’t get enough liquids into their system to function properly. This is a potentially fatal problem that can progress quickly unless caught in time.

Causes

  • Vomiting or diarrhea causing loss of fluid
  • Excessive urination creating a fluid loss (also contributable to kidney disease or diabetes)
  • Over exertion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor water supply

Prevention

  • Make sure your glider has fresh water / Pedialyte / Gatorade mix available all the time. Never give them tap water. Provide bottled drinking or spring water only. For more information, view educational “Dehydration” video at www.asgv.org
  • Provide a small container of open water if you don’t think they are using their bottle (a heavy ash tray works well)
  • Completely wash all fresh foods given to your glider
  • Contact an ASGV™ member when you notice any symptoms of illness

Signs and Symptoms

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • SEIZURES and/or WOBBLING
  • The skin does not return to its normal state when you pinch it
  • White spot remains for a long time after pressing on gums with your finger.
  • Moist areas of nose and mouth appear dry
  • Lack of urination
  • Difficult bowel movements
  • Rapid or heavy breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy

Treatment

  • View educational “Dehydration” video at www.asgv.org - and contact
  • An ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately! This is a true emergency. A glider can become completely dehydrated and die in less than twelve hours


Depression

In humans depression is characterized by sadness, lack of self-esteem, lethargy, dejection, and low energy levels. Sugar gliders experience similar symptoms and it can lead to self-mutilation, and even death. Persistently depressed periods indicated by a lack of sleep, irritability, low energy, or change in appetite could all signs of depression in your sugar glider.

Causes

  • Allowing your single sugar glider to go for long periods of time without attention
  • Neglect
  • Illness
  • The loss of a companion animal

Prevention

  • Have more than one sugar glider in a cage, and/or play with them often.
  • Provide a variety of toys, and a big enough cage to give them room to play
  • Make sure your glider has a well-balanced diet
  • Make sure they get regular checkups with your ASGV™ member veterinarian to prevent problems, and alleviate any occurrences of illness.

Signs and Symptoms

  • General lack of interest and decreased desire to play
  • Inactivity
  • Unusual sleeping habits
  • Excessive communicative noises such as barking

Treatment

  • Lots of attention
  • Getting a companion for your glider
  • A good environment and routinely changing toys to play with


Diarrhea

Extremely mushy, or liquid stools. An excessive amount of excretions.

Causes

  • Infections, either bacterial or viral
  • Stress
  • Parasites
  • Inability to process certain foods such as dairy
  • Bowel disease

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org
  • Stay away from “junk” foods – even though the animal may love them. Introduce new foods ONE at a time and only after you have had them for a minimum of 6 weeks.
  • Provide clean living areas for your glider
  • Always remove uneaten food from your glider’s cage
  • Watch their stools carefully after introducing new foods, or after encountering stressful situations

Signs and Symptoms

  • Loose runny and/or frequent bowel movements

Treatment

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational video series at: www.asgv.org
  • Administer Pedialyte to prevent dehydration
  • Seek veterinary attention from an ASGV™ member veterinarian.


Giardiasis (Giardia “bloom”)

Giardia is an illness often characterized by diarrhea. It is caused by microscopic parasites that reside in the intestinal tract o gliders, and is actually not unusual under normal conditions. Giardia can remain inactive for extended periods before being triggered and growing to critical proportions. Stressful situations can lead to an imbalance in the levels of giardia in the intestines. When this happens gliders often develop diarrhea.

Causes

  • Passed from infected animal through stool contact
  • Swallowing something that has come in contact with the infected animal’s stool.
  • Stress can cause giardia to grow out of control and create problems in the glider’s digestive system.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands thoroughly both before and after playing with your glider
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing your glider’s food
  • Do not allow infected water to sit in bowls, or let your glider drink water that may be contaminated by feces from infected animals

Signs and Symptoms

  • Behavioral changes
  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellow tint to membranes, and skin)
  • Stools that appear green
  • Dehydration

Treatment

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org
  • Consult your ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately.
  • Keep sick animals away from other gliders.
  • Keep infected gliders away from your mouth or food, and always wash your hands after handling them
  • Keep cages completely clean
  • If your glider is sick sterilize their cage with a sterilization agent that is safe for sugar gliders.
  • Continue to sterilize cage and equipment up to a week after improvement from the disease.


Hind Leg Paralysis

Hind leg paralysis is normally brought on by inadequate calcium levels in the body. This can be a fatal condition if not treated promptly, but if caught in time usually reversible.

Causes

  • Poor diet causing the inability to absorb calcium.

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org

Signs and Symptoms

  • Paralysis
  • Lethargy
  • Limping
  • Fractured bones
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Limping or inability to walk
  • Inability to hold on, or grip

Treatment

  • This problem is reversible if caught promptly.
  • Consult your ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately


Intestinal Blockage

Blockage of the intestines that either partially or completely prohibits the passage of excrements. This is a physical blockage and occurs when gliders eat something foreign that creates a impaction in the bowels.

Causes

  • Ingestion of a foreign substance such as seeds, husks, millet, wood, or other items that can block the intestines and prevent fecal matter from passing through.

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org
  • Make sure food is moistened for ease of digestion
  • Avoid seeds, nuts, or other dry foods

Signs and Symptoms

  • Abdominal bloating, swelling, or other fullness
  • Vomiting
  • In some cases partial blockages can cause diarrhea
  • Bad breath
  • Inability to pass stools (complete blockage)

Treatment

  • Consult your ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately! This is an emergency situation which may require surgical intervention


Lumpy Jaw

This is an illness caused by the bacteria Actinomyces israeli. It occurs most often in the face and neck areas and is seen as a slowly growing hard lump. If not treated quickly, it can infect the lungs, and intestines or other parts of the body. If left unattended it is fatal.

Causes

  • Bacteria coming in contact with facial tissues
  • Bacteria by trauma, surgery, or infection. Dental abscesses are the most common cause of this bacteria in gliders

Signs and Symptoms

  • Lump or swelling on face, neck, or chest
  • Loss of weight
  • Eye discharge

Treatment

  • Consult your ASGV™ member veterinarian. Prescription medication is typically required to get rid of the infection.


Stress

Unusually high stress for extended periods of time can cause a wide variety of illnesses in sugar gliders.

Causes

  • Actual danger
  • Grief or loss of a loved one (human or glider)
  • Loneliness
  • Illness
  • Poor diet
  • Thyroid problems
  • Low blood sugar
  • Sudden change in environment, diet, or companionship

Prevention

  • Always feed your glider a healthy, well-balanced diet. For more information, view educational “Nutrition” video at: www.asgv.org
  • If you cannot play regularly with your glider have a companion animal for them
  • Provide a cage with plenty of toys and space to play
  • Watch your glider closely during any times of change for signals of stress
  • Give your glider an hour or two of attention every day, preferably at night when they are awake

Signs and Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Self-mutilation

Treatment

  • Seek veterinary care from your ASGV™ member veterinarian as soon as any signs of stress are apparent
  • Play with your glider often
  • Pay close attention to any changes in surroundings and the affects it has on your glider such as new pouches, new cages, or entirely new home. When changing to new pouches or cages do not make a lot of changes at once, try to keep at least one familiar object in their cage until they have accepted the new one.


Toxicity Poisoning

Sugar gliders are particularly susceptible to toxicity poisoning from a wide variety of substances.

Prevention

  • View the educational video “Common Household Hazards” and “Dehydration” at www.asgv.org
  • Do not use live plants or tree branches unless you know they are 1) safe for your glider, and 2) do not contain harmful chemicals or pesticides


Trichomoniasis

This illness is caused by an organism scientifically known as trichomonas. It can infect many types of domestic and wildlife including cats, dogs, cattle, rodents, primates and even humans as well as many other species.

Causes

  • Eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the trichonomas organism

Prevention

  • Always give your glider fresh BOTTLED spring or drinking water
  • Make sure you always wash fresh produce before feeding it to your glider
  • Make sure you wash your hands before preparing your gliders food and also before you handle your gliders.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting


Diarrhea

Changes in feces either in color or consistency. Also if there is mucus or blood in the feces.


Dehydration

Loss of appetite

Treatment

  • Remove the infected animal to a separate cage and give it clean toys and surroundings. Thoroughly wash anything the infected animal may have come in contact with that other animals are using.
  • Consult your ASGV™ member veterinarian immediately. A smear test from a fecal sample will determine the presence of the organism, and a prescription medication is necessary to kill the bacteria.
  • Watch any other gliders closely that may have been in close contact with the infected animal to be sure they haven’t been exposed to the bacteria. Get them all tested for trichonomas.