Keeping Your Sugar Bear Healthy

If you would like to listen to an audio version – Please Click Here to Listen to Keeping Your Sugar Glider Healthy

The fact is, Sugar Bears are pretty ROBUST little creatures, especially for their size, but like any living/breathing animal , they CAN get sick. Fortunately, since they don’t carry a lot of diseases, they don’t require the same kinds of expensive, ONGOING veterinary care (like shots, heartworm medications, etc…) that alot of other common housepets do. HOWEVER, that does not mean they should never go to the Vet, because – at least in my opinion – every animal needs to see a knowledgeable vet at least once a year just for a quick checkup to make sure everything is fine.

That being said, most of the time as long as you do TWO simple things… keep them warm, and make sure they get enough nutrition and fluids, your new baby sugar bears will usually be JUST fine.

During your BABY Sugar Bear’s first few weeks with you, one of the biggest threats to their health is dehydration. Fortunately, this is a very easy problem to avoid, so here are three tips to help make sure your baby gets enough fluids.

First, when carrying them around in a pouch or a pocket, always put a small slice of apple in with them. Baby Sugar Bears get a LOT of the fluids they need from the juices in the fruit they eat, and this way if they get thirsty while they’re out running around with you, they can just nibble on their apple.

Second, if you’re going to be carrying your baby Sugar Bear around with you for several hours at a time (which is something we HIGHLY recommend whenever possible), take them out and give them a chance to drink every couple hours. To do this, just put a little bit of water in a bowl or container, put it in front of them, and touch their nose to it so they know it’s there. If they are thirsty, they will take a quick drink, and that’s all there is to it!

Third, the last thing you should do to help make sure your baby sugar bear doesn’t get dehydrated is to make sure they know where their water bottle is. Again, like almost everything else we teach, this is really easy to do. Here’s how it works…

First off, in your PocketPets Starter Kit you will find a small water bottle that is JUST the right size for Sugar Bears. This bottle has never been used, so before you put it on the cage, be sure to rinse it out a few times with fresh water. Then, the first time you use it, fill it with mixture of filtered water and Gatorade – with half of it being filtered water, and the other half being Gatorade. That’s right – plain old Gatorade. In case you’re wondering, Gatorade does the same thing for Sugar Bears that it does for us humans – and most Sugar Bears like the orange citrus flavor. Pedialite is like Gatorade for human babies – with the main difference being that it’s quite a bit more expensive – and it does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. The truth is, either usually works just fine, so it’s up to you which way you want to go.

Now, once you’ve got it filled with this juice/water mix, the next step is to pick the right place in the cage to put it. The important thing here is just to put it someplace where your baby can stand on the floor of the cage and easily drink out of it. Then, over the next few days, as this first bottle starts to go down, just keep refilling it back to the top with WATER – and pretty soon your new baby Sugar bear will just be drinking straight water. Every few days, rinse out the bottle completely so everything is fresh. Your goal should be to have them on straight water ONLY after the first couple weeks.

Now, if you want to be extra careful, you can continue to use a little bit of Pedialyte/Gatorade in their water for the first 6 weeks you have them. This way you can be SURE they are always hydrated, but just slowly put less and less Gatorade in the mix until it eventually becomes just straight water. The important thing to remember is just to do anything necessary that makes sense in order to keep your new baby Sugar Bear hydrated until its drinking normally from its water bottle. This may include keeping an open container of fluids in the cage, or taking your baby out and giving it a drink of a water & Gatorade mixture with an eye-dropper periodically if you happen to notice that it just isn’t drinking anything – OR eating its apple. Remember, like we said earlier, baby sugar bears normally get the MAJORITY of the water they need from eating their apple, so as long as they are AT LEAST eating their apple every night, they are probably just fine. It’s actually very unusual to have to resort to feeding with an eye dropper or things like that – and once your baby is used to it’s new surroundings and is drinking well out of the bottle on its own, it’s pretty much past the most dangerous period for dehydration.

Now, while we’re on the topic of drinking, it’s important to note that baby Sugar Bears – like little kids – do not ALL like the same things. Therefore, if you happen to notice that your baby doesn’t particularly like Gatorade or Pedialite, all you do is just substitute APPLE JUICE into the mix. Most babies simply can’t RESIST apple juice, and the only thing you have to remember when you use this is that apple juice spoils after about a day or so. Therefore, you just have to rinse the bottle out once a day.

Finally, we STRONGLY recommend that you avoid using chlorinated tap water, because most cities experience spikes in their chlorination levels from time to time. We have never personally had it happen, but we have heard of MANY cases where a normally healthy sugar bear just all of a sudden dies as a result of high levels of chlorine in their drinking water. Also be aware that Gatorade WILL eventually spoil – so the best rule of thumb to follow is just to change out their water mixture at least once every other day.

That’s about it as far as avoiding dehydration, so let’s move on to the second thing to watch out for in keeping your baby Sugar Bear healthy: keeping them warm.

Sugar Bears, especially BABY sugar bears, thrive and are happiest at temperatures in the 80 to 85 degree range (Fahrenheit). The simple fact is that when they are BABIES, their tiny little bodies cannot generate enough heat on their own to keep them at the temperature that’s best for them at such a young age. Fortunately, keeping them warm enough is pretty easy, so here are two VERY simple tips for keeping your new babies warm.

First, when carrying your baby with you, keep it up against your body, preferably your chest. The best way to do this is to put them in either a shirt pocket or a Walkabout™ bonding pouch. The simple fact is that your body is the PERFECT heater for it. Now, in colder climates (or on a particularly chilly day), just cover that pocket or pouch with the appropriate amount of coats or other clothing to keep the outside temperature and wind away from your baby.

Second, as far as keeping your new baby warm while it’s INDOORS, you should have gotten an electric “heat rock” as a part of your PocketPets Starter Kit. The best way to think of this heat rock is like the furnace in your sugar bear’s house, and the best way to USE it is just to put it on the floor of the cage and plug it in.

Now, in order to not have to run the cord out through the door of the cage, all you need to do is get a pair of wire cutters and make a quick 2-minute modification. First, decide where in the cage you want to put the heat rock. Next, simply take your wire cutters and cut any two wires that are right next to each other, and are down low near where you want the heat rock to go. Finally, bend these two wires out, run the cord through, and bend the wires back to their original position. Notice that we said to cut each wire ONCE and then bend the wires out and bend them back in again. Do not cut them off totally as it will leave a hole just big enough for your little sugar bears to slip right through. That’s it!

Once you’ve got the heat rock where you want it in the cage, just go ahead and cover it up with an old piece of your clothing (like a t-shirt) or some flannel or fleece material that you make into a “blanket”. When picking out the fabric your going to use to cover the rock, about the only important thing to remember is to use something that’s non-toxic, and does NOT have lots of threads or strings hanging out of it, and won’t unravel easily. This way, your baby Sugar Bear can’t pull out long threads that could accidentally get wrapped around their neck, leg or tail, and possibly cause injury or death. Now, if you want to be extra-careful, we already have pre-made, custom-sewn blankets made out of a glider-safe fleece and special, water-proof fabric that are specifically designed to promote your little buddy’s health and speed up the bonding process. If you want to check those out, they’re available in our online store at www.sugarbears.com.

Also, you don’t have to wrap the heat rock up in the blanket. Just loosely drape it over the rock, and it will automatically create a bunch of little “atmospheres” under it that are about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the rest of the room. Also, make sure that the socket the rock is plugged into is NOT turned on and off by a light switch in the room. This way you can be sure that your baby’s FURNACE is always nice and toasty warm for them.

Your Sugar Bear will love this little heated area, and once you plug in the heat rock, they’ll regulate their own temperature automatically by just SLEEPING under the blanket as close to the rock as they want to. They’re also a LOT smarter than reptiles, so you don’t have to worry about them getting burned or hurting themselves. They’ll most likely just seek out the toasty area under the shirt if they get cold, and then move away from it if they get too warm. Again, sugar bears are not rodents, so you don’t have to worry about them chewing on the cord to any dangerous degree but as we always say, it is better to err on the side of caution. Therefore, once the heat rock is installed in the cage, it’s a good idea to pull on the chord so that the back of the heat rock butts directly up against the wall of the cage. Then, you can just use a little zip tie or a bread-wrapper wire to tie the chord to the cage so that the heat rock can’t move.

One last little note about the use of heat rocks. The professionals here at PocketPets have been providing heat rocks to customers now for several years, and we’ve been strongly criticized a LOT by many of the self-proclaimed Internet ‘experts’ out there for doing so. These groups like to terrorize new parents like you into believing that heat rocks are ‘bad’ and that they can electrocute a baby. Well, to be blunt, that is complete and utter NONSENSE. I’m not going to waste any time explaining this here, but if you want to look into this more, simply go to the Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians’ website at www.ASGV.org. They have an excellent free educational video series for new owners like you – and in their videos they repeatedly recommend both heat rocks – and heat lamps – for these little guys; especially when they are young. Again, the Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians’ website is www.ASGV.org – so go there and check it out as soon as you are done reading this report . Their entire educational video series on these animals covers more than 20 different topics – and it is EXCELLENT.

Oh, one more thing before we move on, and that is the topic of whether or not you should use a heat LAMP – in addition to – a heat rock in your baby’s cage. In a nutshell, the answer to this question is “YES”, if at all possible – and here’s what I mean by that… The simple fact is that an ideal room temperature for a Sugar bear is between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, since most of us do not keep our homes at this temperature, it’s usually necessary to have at least one additional heat source in your Sugar bear’s cage. This is especially important while they are young – since the warmer they are – the healthier they will be. Therefore, if it’s not practical to keep their whole room at at least 75 degrees, then adding a small heat lamp to their cage – in addition to their heat rock – is strongly recommended at least for the first few weeks you have them (or as long as necessary if you like to keep your a little on the colder side). Also, you could opt for one of our fleece cage covers at night, however if you do, obviously remove the heat lamp while the cover is on the cage. After all you don’t want to cause a fire.

That being said, it’s important to understand that a heat rock – and a heat LAMP – accomplish two very different things. Basically, a heat rock – along with a nesting cloth – provides a nice warm “bed” for your baby; and then the heat slowly rises throughout the cage. A heat LAMP, on the other hand, keeps their entire cage at a nice, warm, consistent temperature all the time so that they don’t accidentally catch a chill when they are out playing. Again, once they are older, this usually isn’t necessary, but for little babies it’s always important to keep them nice and snuggly warm.

Fortunately, this is a very easy – and inexpensive – thing to do. If you didn’t already get a heat lamp setup from us when you got your little babies and cage, you can either just go back quickly and get one now – or order one from our website. Now, when getting the right heat lamp, you basically need 2 things. The first is the right base or clamp – and the second is the right bulb. For the base and clamp, the best kind is one that looks like a metal “bell” and has a CERAMIC receptacle so it won’t melt from the heat. For the bulb, you need to get a 100 Watt CERAMIC bulb that does NOT give off any light. It’s important to get the best quality that you can because it will use much less electricity and last a long time. Once you get it home just plug it in and set the whole thing to the top of the cage so the heat is pointing down into the cage. Just make sure that the bulb itself is not directly touching the cage wire. That’s really about all there is to it – and you’ll never have to worry about hypothermia no matter how cold the room gets.

Now, if there’s just no possible way to get a heat lamp, another thing you can try is to keep the room as warm as you can – and then cover the cage each night. This will help keep the heat coming from the heat rock to stay inside the cage – and make it more comfortable for them. Just make sure that whatever material you use holds in heat well – is non-toxic – and isn’t made of anything with loose strings or something they could get tangled up and hurt in – because they will be playing with it a lot. For that reason, we actually have custom cage covers designed of a special Glider-Safe material that are already made specifically to fit your little buddy’s cage. You can check them out at our online store at our Sugar Glider Super Store

Now, along these same lines, it’s important to NOT substitute a space heater for a heat lamp. Many space heaters emit a different type of heat that – when placed next to an animals cage – can quickly dehydrate it. It’s fine to use a space heater in the animal’s room to keep the temperature up – but don’t place it within 5-7ft of the cage, and don’t rely on it as a substitute for the type of heat lamp outlined above.

The important thing to remember is that these little guys are very smart and will always naturally go where they are most comfortable. As they get older, using just a heat rock by itself is usually just fine – but it’s always best to err on the side of caution when they are young and keep them nice and snuggly warm – both in their cage – and on your body. 😉

Ok, well, as far as caring for the health of your new baby Sugar bear, we’ve now covered how to take care of the two most common reasons why they can sometimes get sick. By following these simple instructions, chances are your new babies will grow up into happy, healthy adults and be a loving part of your family for many years to come.

As always, if you have any specific questions about the health of your Sugar bear, we are more than happy to give you any guidance we can. Over the many years we’ve been doing this, we’ve found that most proud new “parents” have pretty much the SAME set of questions and issues during the first few weeks with their new baby(ies) – and since we LOVE these little darlings so much, we take our responsibility to give you all the CORRECT information you need VERY seriously.

Unfortunately, in today’s “Internet age”, almost any person, chat room, or website out there can look like “experts” on a subject – even though they aren’t even remotely qualified to give advice to others. That being said, when it comes to the world of “Sugar bears”, the Internet is FULL of misleading – and downright WRONG – information that can:

1) get VERY confusing to a new “mom” or “dad” like yourself, and

2) actually harm or even kill your new baby(ies)

Unfortunately, over the years we’ve seen FAR too many incidents where well-meaning “new parents” like yourself have innocently followed advice from a chat room and/or Sugar bear “expert” site that they found on the Internet – and their babies have died. Like I mentioned just a minute ago, these amateur groups like to terrorize new parents like you into believing all kinds of crazy things: like heat rocks are dangerous… our pelleted diet will KILL your babies… Pocket Pets is just a “glider mill”… and everything we teach you to do is wrong. Well, again, to be blunt, all that is complete and utter NONSENSE – and I don’t expect you to take MY word for it. If you want to hear the TRUTH about how harmful and misleading these amateur internet groups are, I strongly suggest you go to the Association of Sugar bear Veterinarians website at www.asgv.org. You see, every single day Veterinarians ALSO have to constantly combat the nonsense these groups tell people – so the ASGV even did an entire educational video specifically WARNING new “moms & dads” like you NOT to listen to these nuts. Like all the educational materials on their website, this video is free to watch, and it’s called: “Why You Should AVOID Taking Advice from the Internet”. This is an excellent video – produced by VETERINARIANS who specialize in Sugar Bears – and I STRONGLY suggest you watch this before ever taking advice from anyone other than ourselves.

Now, along these same lines, another great source of information on this subject is the following link to an independent article that examines the damaging effects of Sugar bear “expert” internet sites and message boards. It is well-worth taking a couple minutes to review this… Special Report: Sugar Bear Message Boards – Helpful or Harmful

Now, I don’t want to waste any more time on this subject, so the bottom line here is this… If you trusted us enough to buy your babies from us – then please trust us enough to teach you how to raise it. Because we care SO much about these little darlings, from day one we felt it was extremely important to “cut through” all the internet hype and give members of our “family” ONE SIMPLE RESOURCE where you can come to get all the safe, FACTUAL information you need. That is WHY we created the FAMILY CIRCLE portion of our website.

The FAMILY CIRCLE is a private section of our website reserved ONLY for our customers. When you log in, you will find the single largest collection of FACTUAL, up-to-date information EVER published anywhere in the world about how to raise and care for Sugar bears. This includes a series of TWENTY “Tip-o-the-Day” Special Reports – and a collection of short, online videos that you can watch right from your home computer. Each Report covers a specific question or topic that almost all “parents” encounter at some point along their exciting and rewarding journey. They are “to-the-point”, and jam-packed with lots of “hands-on” shortcuts that we’ve learned over the many years we’ve been raising and caring for these loving little animals.

Whenever someone becomes a member of our “family”, we automatically email each of these Special Reports to them – one at a time – for the first 30 days they have their new baby(ies). In addition, they can also log-in to the “Family Circle” 24 hours a day and see ALL these Special Reports.

As noted above, these Special Reports are simply the most up-to-date and comprehensive collection of FACTUAL information on raising and caring for Sugar bears that has ever been published anywhere in the world – and it is ONLY available to members of “our family”. Inside these reports you will find detailed ANSWERS to almost any question you can possibly imagine. Something else you might find very helpful and fun to do is to print out each email as it comes to you and spend some “family time” reading over it. That way, not only is everyone in the family getting all the facts about the care of the animals, you also get some great quality time together! We also suggest that you have a 3 ring binder to collect each of these emails and create your own easy reference manual.

The BEST part about the Family Circle is that you can instantly get the answers you need ANYTIME – day or night – and they will be a CONTINUAL source of wisdom and guidance as you walk through this journey – and build a lasting, loving relationship with your new “addition(s)”. From there, if you still have questions, we are always available, and more than happy to help you however we can.

Stay healthy!
The PocketPets Team