There are many different ways to care for gliders correctly, but today let’s go over the DO NOT list. Some of these will be controversial, please feel free to message me to debate them. This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to not do, and I tried to keep most of the grey zone and situational items off this list (for instance, you may note that “keep a glider solo” isn’t on this list, which is because there are some situations where the case can be made and it would be a whole rant of its own to do that topic justice).
DO NOT feed gliders chocolate, rhubarb, raw lima beans, garlic, onion, or catnip (Death is a possible consequence)
These foods are toxic to gliders. If they ingest any of them on accident, get them to a vet and check for dehydration symptoms as their kidneys may attempt to flush the toxins out with excessive amounts of dilute urine.
DO NOT use a Wodent Wheel (Death is a possible consequence)
A Wodent wheel’s center axle has been known to catch a glider tail and patagium, which has resulted in many tails being pulled off, as well as at least one rather gruesome death. Pictures of the fatal incident lurk on the internet to this day. If you use a Wodent despite this warning, please be sure it has a white plastic tail guard around the center axle, this $2 part can save your gliders’ lives.
DO NOT use a heat rock or heat lamp (Death is a possible consequence)
Heat rocks and lamps can dehydrate gliders, burn their skin, or electrocute them if they find a way to get to the cords (which they probably will be able to do regardless of how awesome your set up is). As mammals, gliders can regulate their internal body temps and do not need a heat source for digestion like reptiles do. If you fear their area is too chilly, consider a using a space heater and a humidifier.
DO NOT house in an aquarium, wood cage, or a cage made with chicken wire*
Smooth sided enclosures are not glider appropriate. Wood soaks urine up into it and traps it there for bacteria to grow, and it ends up stinking to high heaven pretty quickly. Gliders will also gnaw the wood into splinters, which could potentially lead to preventable vet bills or worse. Chicken wire is problematic for a glider’s feet, plastic mesh is a better bet for DIY cage walls.
*EDIT* The wood/wire cage prohibition is contested by people who know a hell of a lot more about it than I, but with some major caveats on how the wood must be prepared for gliders. AVOID CEDAR – see Peggy Hernandez Brewer for more on this topic.
DO NOT use wood shavings in the drop pan or inside the enclosure
Wood shavings can possibly affect respiration with the dust, can potentially injure a glider’s large eyes, and are an absolute mess to clean up. Some wood species are toxic to gliders. I suggest using fleece liners in the drop pan, but there are other options as well.
DO NOT allow gliders to directly interact with other pets, even friendly ones, cats in particular (Death is a possible consequence)
Aside from the obvious reasons, cats can carry a protozoa parasite called toxoplasmosis that is fatal to gliders without showing symptoms. Cats usually acquire this very interesting, mind-controlling parasite from eating infected mice. There is also a concern for tapeworms, which are acquired by eating a tapeworm-infected flea. Your dogs’ and cats’ flea protection meds won’t necessarily protect the gliders from this if the dead fleas still have viable tapeworm eggs inside them. There are others too, but you get the idea.
DO NOT put your clothing in their cage, nor any weaved thread fabrics
Glider nails are notorious for pulling threads loose; Loose threads can wrap around a toe and cut off circulation, which could ultimately require toe amputation if not caught in time. Instead, I suggest putting their empty sleeping pouch in your bed for a night to absorb your stink or tucking fleece squares near your skin on a day you don’t need to wear deodorant.
DO NOT use a pellet-only diet
If your diet does not call for fruits/veggies/protein, consider a diet change.Pellet diets will often turn a glider’s fur orange/brown from nutritional imbalances. This is not a stain on the outside of the fur, but rather a discoloration of the fur itself. It can take up to a year for the discolored fur to grow out after being switched to a glider appropriate diet.
DO NOT feed them cat food, dog food, or rodent food
These foods are not glider appropriate at all and will not be healthy glider diets. The worst case of orange fur I have ever seen in my life was on a previously all white glider that was fed nothing but cat food for years.
DO NOT put a female joey in the same cage as an intact male
Glider men do not care about age of consent, they will knock up a baby girl many months before her body can handle a pregnancy. Both the mother and the joey are at risk when glider moms are too young for breeding. I prefer glider girls to be about a year out of pouch (oop), but 8-9 months oop won’t get a side eye from me either. Boys hit puberty around 4-5 months oop, so consider that when setting up your new breeding pair. There is a random rant on the Breeder’s Dilemma with some strategies to work around this issue.
DO NOT breed a caramel sub-species glider and a non-caramel glider together
Caramel gliders are not genetically compatible with the American population of gliders, and when bred together their male joeys are sterile males. Last I heard, it was not known whether their female joeys would also be sterile, as the pair did not have any daughters.
DO NOT give the glider free roam of the house (Death is a possible consequence)
They can get outside, get into chemicals, chew on things, get stepped on, get tossed in the laundry because they hid in the clothes basket, drown in open toilets, get into a fight with a house mouse (which can carry toxoplasmosis and intestinal worms), get into a couch recliner or bed’s box spring, get caught in a closing door, get hit by a ceiling fan, etc. A few of these instances are based on actual glider fatalities that have happened to people that I know.
DO NOT use an open water dish
They will pee and poop in their water dish, making the water unsafe. They may also spill the water, or knock fabric into it that soaks it up, thus leading to dehydration if not caught in time. Use water bottles or silos instead. If you use an open water dish, be diligent in cleaning it.
DO NOT use a leash, harness, or collar (Death is a possible consequence)
A glider is not smart enough to resist a leap while leashed or harnessed, and this could easily snap a neck. Anything that straps over their delicate patagium (glider flaps) could damage it. Id make an exception for e-collars or e-jackets in the event of medical necessity.
DO NOT hit, tap, or smack a glider for biting or misbehaving
It probably won’t work, it will definitely make them dislike you, and it could potentially injure them. To tell them No, I blow air in their face or on their ears like blowing out a candle, it does not harm them but they do not like it. You can also use a loud “Tssskk” sound, which is how they tell each other off.
DO NOT bathe gliders regularly
Gliders do not require baths and soaking them down puts them at risk of hypothermia. If they get something in their fur, try a damp washcloth and a drop of dish soap, or a baby wipe. If they do get soaked, do not blow dry them as this can damage their ear skin. I keep them on me and next to my skin to stay warm until fully dry.
DO NOT believe anyone that’s says a female glider is fixed; Female gliders are not spayed
Females are not spayed, vets do not do this procedure. Sugar glider females have two separate uteruses…uteri…wombs, there we go, and both are connected to important, tiny blood vessels and nerves. This procedure would be shockingly expensive to have done, so your $500 glider definitely is not spayed, as $500 wouldn’t even begin to touch that vet bill. I don’t know whether it is an intentional deception or just a common miscommunication, but Pocket Pets is notorious for misinforming their customers about this. There have been an awful lot of oopsy joeys born as a result.
DO NOT go overboard with corn
Gliders absolutely love corn and will usually pick it off a plate first. They will also demolish a corn on the cob hung from their cage ceiling. BUT don’t go overboard with corn because it has an abysmal calcium to phosphorus ratio of 0.2. This wouldn’t even be such a problem if gliders didn’t love it so much that they would happily gorge themselves into a corn fueled diabetic coma. Either limit corn to a few kernels per night in a veggie mix, or a small pile of corn a few night out of a week, or a corn cob per fortnight. Signs of calcium deficiency are seizures in the absence of dehydration or acute stress, and loss of mobility in the back legs (beginning of hind leg paralysis).
DO NOT put gliders in a hamster ball
The hamster balls sold in pet stores have slots in them for air and glider nails/toes slip right through those slots while the ball is in fast motion, which can snap a toe pretty badly. Glider floor rollers are more appropriate.
DO NOT use very bright lights with red-eyed gliders
Red eyes are more sensitive to light than black eyes, and bright lights can be painful to them. Try dimming the lights if your red-eyed glider is squinting, cowering, crabbing, or hiding. A bathroom nightlight or a candle is a good ambient light level for them. AFAIK a camera flash is okay, and there are a million pictures of them without any reports of eye damages so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about that.