Common Medical Problems in Sugar Gliders

The curious looking animals that you may have observed during your most recent visit to your local pet shop are gaining in popularity among pet owners. Chances are you had to ask what they were, and when you were told "Sugar Gliders", you probably had never even heard of them. And with good reason:

Sugar gliders are nocturnal arboreal marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea . The extra skin between their front and back legs allows them to glide between trees. They are omnivores and require balanced proper nutrition that includes fruits, sap and animal proteins.

Dietary deficiencies are the most common causes of diseases in captive Sugar Gliders. Imbalanced diet often leads to a disease called secondary hyperparathyroidism, characterized by calcium deficiency that causes neuromuscular dysfunction. Typical signs include muscle weakness, tremors, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, bone fractures, lameness and anorexia. Spinal fractures may result in paralysis and eventual death. If treated early with dietary supplementation and correction affected animals may recover. In addition, protein and vitamin deficiencies can result in stress and weak immune system, cataracts, seizures and weight loss. Obesity is observed in individuals that are fed high fat diet and are not active

Traumas are also common and can be caused by other household pets, cage mates or various accidents. Self mutilation is another problem in sugar gliders and is at least in part a behavioral problem.

Sugar gliders can also develop infections and digestive problems, such as intestinal obstruction, diarrhea and constipation.

Periodic veterinary exams are recommended to ensure good state of health and proper husbandry, but as in all cases, thoroughly contemplate your situation before you make a commitment to purchase a pet and introduce it to your household.

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