By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
We live in Barcelona, Spain, and we had a couple of sugar gliders, but the male was dead this morning. We would like to know if you could help us. The female has two babies (we think there are two) in her pouch, and we are worried about her health.
The night before yesterday’s the male, which was more social than the female, was happy and active; we gave him worms and the rest of the food (fruit and some baby cereal) and he was just as usual. Yesterday around 1 p.m. he was out of his bed eating but looking good; later at night he was behaving differently, too calm, he looked a bit puffed up, his eyes were a bit closed and his ears were down (he seemed ill). He came out a second and then curled up in his bed. We tried to touch him, but he complained and we left him so he could rest. This morning he was dead in a corner of his cage. We think it might have been a bowel obstruction or something similar, but we are worried about the female’s health just in case it was a virus or similar. Also, we have read that sugar gliders should be kept in couples. Because the female has babies, would it be a problem if she’s alone now? Will she be able to take care of the joeys once they are out?
This is a difficult question to answer because you do not know why the male sugar glider died. If he died of an age-related disease, such as a heart disease or renal disease, then the female sugar glider and the joeys are not at risk. If he died of an infectious disease or toxin exposure, the health of the female sugar glider and the joeys is a concern.
I recommend finding a veterinarian who can help you determine the health of your remaining sugar gliders. You do not want to introduce a new sugar glider until you are certain an infection or toxin was not the reason behind the male sugar glider’s death.
For now, the female sugar glider with her joeys should be OK, but I agree that sugar gliders are not meant to be kept as single pets; sugar gliders tend do best with other sugar gliders. Once you know that the female sugar glider and her joeys are healthy, and especially if you do not plan to keep the joeys, I would consider getting another companion for the female sugar glider.