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Housing/Glider Proofing

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Housing-
 

Bigger is better! It would be best to get the tallest cage possible, at least 3 feet. An aquarium is not a suitable cage. A lot of the sugar glider cages I have seen for sale are way too small. It is VERY cruel to keep a glider in a small cage. Bare wire cages can irritate glider feet and it can get really noisy when they climb on it. It is best to get or make a vinyl or powder coated wire cage. Not only does this minimize risk of irritation and is a lot quieter, it is also much easier to clean and will not rust. I have heard that galvanized wire might cause heavy metal poisoning, but I have also heard of people having no problems at all. In order for this to happen, your glider has to continually chew on the wire and injest it. Just to be safe, don't use bare galvanized wire. There are plexi-glass cages available for sugar gliders, but these can scratch easily and you have to provide lots more climbing branches. If you are going to buy a cage make sure the hole spacing is not any bigger than 1/2" x 1", smaller if you are planning to breed them. You may want to consider buying a bird cage, however it can be really expensive to buy a cage tall enough.  I built my cage in the kitchen of my apartment. If you can't find vinyl coated wire, it may be better to buy your cage.

 

Stuff to Put Inside Your Cage

1. Nestbox or pouch. Gliders need a secure place to sleep. A nestbox is best if you have several gliders or are breeding them. If you get a nestbox, make sure that it is not bare wood as the glider's pee will soak into it and have to be replaced often. It would be best to get a plastic or plexi-glass box. In the bottom you should put some kind of liner such as aspen bedding, tissues or a piece of fleece. However if you have less than four gliders, I recommend getting a pouch instead. You can take their pouch out of the cage and dump them directly into your bonding pouch without disturbing them too much. This can make the bonding process a lot easier on the both of you. You should have more than one to make sure they have a clean one. I have both a pouch and a nestbox in my cage and they alternate between them.

2. Non-toxic branches and perches. Some good non-toxic branches are eucalyptus and manzanita. These can be usually be found:Exotics Central sells a manzanita perch with toy or look in bird specialty stores or websites. You also could use live tree branches but make sure they are nontoxic and have not been sprayed with pesticides. House plants (even non-toxic ones) inside your gliders cage is not a good idea though. You can have trees or plants for them to play on outside of their cages, provided you supervise them carefully to make sure they are not eating any. A lot of glider owners have hibiscus or eucalyptus trees for playing in. If you are worried about which plants might be toxic, take a look at these sites: Edible & Harmful Plants and Toxic, Harmful & Safe Plants & Foods

3. Food dishes and water bottle. Large bird seed cups work well as they attach to the side. Get ceramic or stainless steel if possible, plastic dishes scratch easily and can harbor harmful bacteria. Gliders won't usually eat food too close to the ground. Also, if they are placed high in the cage, it is less likely poop will fall in their food. Water bottles shouldn't be too big, the water needs to be changed often. Bird water bottles are a good choice.

4. Toys. Bird toys such as swings, rings, ladders, and mirrors help to entertain gliders. Just be careful not to get any with loose strings or fabric they might injest. Be sure to rotate toys to keep gliders from losing interest. A wheel can provide additional entertainment and exercise. However, an exercise wheel should not have cross bars or spaces where fragile tails can get caught, so regular hamster wheels are not a good idea. A lot of glider owners and breeders highly recommend the Wodent Wheel as a safe choice.

5. Bedding. You will probably want to put some type of bedding on the floor of the cage. Do Not use newspaper, cedar, or pine, these are toxic to small animals. Instead, use aspen shavings, oat hull, or corncob bedding.

6. Plastic or metal tray. 

Make two kinds of trays. One you put under your cage (Mess Catcher) and the other is a sliding litter tray replacement (The Critter Tray.) They come in fairly large sizes.


How should I clean my cage?

Every week or so, you will need to clean your cage. If you have a male, be careful not to clean too often. If you are constantly cleaning their cage this will often result in the males scent marking more. I have found that a mixture of baking soda and water sprayed on the cage and rinsed off helps control odor best.

 

House Proofing-

 

 

Once tame, your sugar glider should be allowed to exercise and play in a glider proofed room.

This is a list of dangers to look for when glider-proofing your room/house. It was compiled by Thomas P. Patten from e-mails on the Buffnet and ISGA glider talk lists. I will keep it updated if I think of things that need to be added.

1. Be sure the window screens are in good repair and secure.

2. Be very careful with recliners, rocker recliners & sofa beds. Don't sit down on anything unless you know the glider isn't in it. The gliders can be suffocated or killed by mechanisms.

3. Make sure toilet lids are down. Leave the door to the bathroom closed. The gliders may still be able to get into the toilet with the lid closed. If there is an opening at the back of the lid which is bigger than your finger, the glider could still get in. Some lids are light enough, the glider might be able to open it enough to squeeze through. No matter how safe you think the bathroom is, it is a good idea to not leave an unsupervised glider in the bathroom.

4. Be careful of standing water in sinks, vases, etc. All drains should be closed. Drain plugs should be secured so the gliders cannot lift them to explore the holes. I know I'd hate to find mine in my garbage disposal.

5. Put covers on all outlets. Make sure plugs cannot come partially out of sockets (they sell hardware that will hold the plugs in the outlets). Obviously, the less you have plugged in, the better. Also, heavier cords are better. Check for wear on the cords. Also check frequently to make sure they aren't being bitten. Bundle and secure your cords whenever possible. Make sure the electrical cords behind appliances are not exposed.

6. Remove anything from the room you do not want them to mark (this includes keyboards!)

7. Keep the ceiling fan off. Make sure they cannot turn it on. Mine will climb around the switches and a couple times have jumped to grab ahold of the chain hanging from the fan.

8. Make sure they cannot get onto any hot surfaces.

9. Any medications or over the counter drugs should be inaccessible.

10. If you can fit your finger under the door, they might be able to get out. Make sure the opening is plugged with something they cannot move.

11. Make sure fish tanks have covers on them.

12. Be sure a/c & heating vents cannot be accessed.

13. Anything such as portable heaters should be unplugged. Electric base boards also can get very hot.

14. Watch out for the VCR and other electronics. They can access holes into the electronics.

15. Watch for holes into walls and ceilings. If there is extra clearance, the gliders can make it into them.

16. Openings into baseboards and appliances should be checked for and covered (or you might have to call Linda Altman to remodel your kitchen). Securly close dish washers.

17. Stove tops can be accessed by crawling in through the drip pans. The stove shouldn't be used if you do not know where your glider is. This goes for the oven also (it has a vent that can be accessed and it heats up the entire oven.

18. Dressers often have holes at there bottoms, so be careful opening drawers.

19. Watch out for cat windows and obviously other animals. Make sure the gliders cannot get into other cages. Keep dogs, cats, and ferrets in a separate room away from your glider. Even supervised pets can kill your glider.

20. Clean the room frequently. Vaccuum often. Make sure there is no poison sitting around the house. This includes spraying for insects.

21. Make sure the trash doesn't hold anything dangerous. It might be a good idea to have a lid that the gliders can't enter on the kitchen trash.

22. It's a good idea to get in the habit of washing off anything with food on it just in case that is the night your glider makes it out of the 'glider-proofed' room. Wash out glasses and cans that have held caffeine. KEEP chocolate in glider-safe places like the refrigerator.

23. When you enter and leave the 'glider-proofed' room, check to see if the door latches properly.

24. Make sure fireplaces are completely closed off. Brick walls are very easy to climb.

25. Remove all houseplants except those that are listed as being safe for sugar gliders. Safe plants should be removed if you don't want them trampled or chewed up.

26. Cassette tapes should be put away. They will unravel the tape and could be harmful if ingested.

Keep in mind that when you let your glider run around, there are more possibilities of danger for him/her. Taking steps to glider-proof the room just lessens those chances. If it is too difficult to glider-proof a room (like the kitchen), then you should not allow your glider in there. Upon waking, you should always know where the gliders are or be able to find them. If you can't find them, you should look before you sit, cook, watch a tape, etc. Also, do not sleep in a room with them unless you are sure they won't sleep with you. (They could get crushed if you roll over on them.)

This page was created on 08/27/04