Sugar Glider Home Proofing: How to Make Your House Safe for Sugar Gliders
In the audio CD, we already went over most of the major safety points with regards to setting up your sugar glider baby(ies) new cage in your home. However, just to make extra sure we’ve got all the bases covered, I wanted to give you a few more specific pointers that might help you avoid making some honest mistakes around the house that could accidentally hurt your sugar gliders. Since most of these ‘tips’ are NOT included on your original Quick-start Audio CD, so you’ll want to make sure and have everyone in your home read this whole email from beginning to end at least once :-)
Since we’ve already reviewed dehydration (not getting enough to drink), and hypothermia (getting too cold) on the audio CD and in previous emails – below we’re going to cover some other ‘less-obvious’ household hazards that can easily be avoided with a little planning and forethought….
That being said, let’s start this “Sugar Glider Proofing” guide right off the bat with a quick review of how to use – and not use – common household “cleaners” or chemicals…
The basic rule of thumb here is that any type of chemical or cleaner that could harm a small child or other household pet will also be dangerous or even deadly to your sugar bear(s). The only real difference is that since sugar bears typically weigh 5-8oz. full grown – it doesn’t take very much of something hazardous to do the job.
When it comes to the routine cleaning of their cage, we use UNSCENTED baby wipes, but plain old dish soap (like Dawn) and hot water work just as well. In addition, once every 90 days (or 4 times per year), their cage, toys and all surroundings will need to be completely sterilized using sterilization spray like Squeak-E-Clean that is approved specifically for Sugar Bears (see our online store for more info).
Whenever possible, avoid bleaches, sprays or aerosol cleaners because of the many additives in these products. Generally speaking, the cage shouldn’t need more than a general “housekeeping” kind of cleaning very often anyway, (especially if you have made them a ‘dining room’), and most of the time simply changing the paper in the “poo tray” and quickly wiping down the cage every week or so keeps it plenty clean…
Now, around the house in general, always try to avoid any cleaners that have a ‘citrus’ type of scent or flavor – because sugar bears will be naturally ‘drawn’ to it… For example, I can recall a particularly tragic situation where a daughter thought she would do her mom a favor one night – and while she was out, cleaned their sugar bear’s cage with lemon-scented Lysol. Thinking, of course, that “Lysol kills germs”, she pulled the sugar bears out and gave the cage a thorough cleaning…
Well, by the next morning both sugar bears had in fact died. As it turned out, not only did the chemicals in the Lysol itself prove to be toxic – but the lemon ‘scent’ made it almost impossible for the poor little darlings to resist licking it… :-(
Now, just to be clear, I don’t mention this story here to ‘terrorize’ anyone – but since these little critters ARE new to your family, I just wanted to directly illustrate how sometimes a VERY innocent and easily-avoidable mistake can accidentally end up causing a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache…
Luckily, instances like this are VERY rare – and if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are ‘wondering’ if something will be OK – either err on the side of caution – or just shoot us a quick email and we’ll get right back to you as quickly as possible… :-)
Now, while we’re still on the topic of “cleaners”, I’d like to point out THREE other things to watch for…
The first is to try to avoid using those little plug-in “Glade-type” air fresheners whenever possible. If they are immediately underneath the cage, some of the fumes these things give off can be eventually become toxic – but MUCH more importantly – many of these fresheners have a sweet or ‘citrus-type’ odor to them – and the LAST thing you want is a curious sugar bear trying to make a snack out of one of those things when they are out exploring… Similarly, please avoid any wax burners or scented candles. Due to the scent they give off, they are likely to attract a little sugar bear’s curiosities and melted wax is very difficult to remove form the animals fur.
The second thing is to always make sure their MAIN SUPPLY of food and vitamins are closed up and put away when you aren’t using them. For example, if their food bag or vitamin jar is accidentally laying out open on the counter when someone else is cleaning the counters with, say “Windex”….. it wouldn’t take much for their food to accidentally get contaminated, etc…
The third thing with regards to ‘cleaning’ is just to use good judgment whenever you – or someone else – is cleaning the room where your sugar bear(s) cage is kept. For example, if you know that a particular room is going to get a THOROUGH cleaning one day – the safest thing is always just to take a minute to pick up everything and move it to another room. That way, nothing harmful can accidentally get sprayed, spilled or sprinkled on either their cage, toys or food – and you’ll have absolutely NOTHING to worry about.
***This ALSO goes for ANY time the bug exterminator is coming over for their regular service – and if you live in an apartment complex where they can just come into your unit without scheduling, be sure to coordinate with your main office well in advance.***
Oh, one last thing while we are on the topic of ‘cleaning’ – and that is about laundry. You can wash your bonding pouch(es) and whatever type of cloth you keep over their rock just like you would any other type of household laundry. Gentle cycle, cold water is fine for washing – and then for drying, set your dryer to “low heat”. Just try to avoid using bleach whenever possible. Oftentimes, people get additional pouches so each member of the family has one – and they always have a clean one handy. If you’d like to do that, just check out the Online Store at our website.
Well, that’s about it for “cleaners” – now let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s of certain FOODS….
As we already covered in the audio CD, since sugar bears are omnivorous that means they’ll eat just about anything you put in front of them… and in most cases, small amounts of any sensible food are fine. However, just like “little kids” – sugar bears LOVE sweets, and anything like that in large amounts can sometimes hurt them. For example, grapes are typically a favorite food of sugar bears, and we have NEVER heard of them being harmful when given out as “treats”. However, when eaten in LARGE amounts, (ie. several a day – every day) it has been suspected in several cases around the country that grapes have actually shut down a sugar bear’s renal system; causing serious problems, and even death.
Now, in case you’re wondering why I used the word “suspected”, it’s because historically it’s often VERY hard to determine the DEFINITE cause of a particular sugar bear’s death. Since they are so small, even postmortem autopsies and tissue samples are often inconclusive; so the veterinary professionals just have to make their “best guess”- and pass that information along as a cautionary “footnote”…
When it comes to food, the main thing to keep in mind is that it’s often not the food ITSELF, that could potentially be dangerous to a sugar bear. If anything, it’s going to be the CHEMICALS and PESTICIDES used to treat the food – if they haven’t been washed properly. Now, again, this is not a HUGE problem on any scale, but I want to mention it because it’s best to get in the habit of ALWAYS washing any fruits or vegetables thoroughly before you give them to your sugar bear(s)…
With that in mind, it’s important to note that some foods are just naturally easier to clean (ie. safer) than others… For example, fruits and veggies like grapes, carrots, peas, beans, apples, etc.. all have somewhat smooth surfaces that are simple to clean. By contrast though, things like raspberries, blackberries and cauliflower have more rough and ‘porous’ surfaces. Pesticides and preservatives are obviously much harder to remove from these foods – so use your own best judgment if you want to give your sugar bear(s) things like this.
If in doubt, one way to pretty-much guarantee that the food is going to be chemical-free is to give them things that are “CERTIFIED ORGANIC” – but even then, always give them a quick wash..
Luckily, like I said earlier, it is very rare for a sugar bear to actually die from one of the causes mentioned above, so there’s really NO need to go ‘overboard’ here… However, since you are “new parents”, we just wanted to take a couple minutes and point out a few things that might not be blatantly obvious at first.
With all this in mind then, let’s summarize with a quick list of some other not-so-obvious things to look for…
1) Open toilet lids are the SINGLE most common cause of sugar bear deaths in a household.
2) Open doors
3) Open windows (or holes in the screen)
4) Holes in walls, or underneath/behind cabinets
5) Open appliances (ie washers, dryers ovens, dishwashers, etc.)
6) Furniture with open backs or bottoms (ie. recliners, couches, etc.)
***COOKING ALERT ***
Always avoid cooking with non-stick cookware around sugar bears at any age. Just like with birds, the toxic fumes given off by the non-stick surface during cooking will kill a sugar glider (or any small animal) almost instantly.
Remember, even though sugar bears generally want to be with their owners – and not leave them once they are bonded – they are very inquisitive by nature. Therefore, when it comes to the items on the above list, they might be able to get in – but then can’t find their way back out to you – so it’s better to be safe than sorry :-)
One last note regarding the heat rock… If you live in a colder climate and are in an area that is prone to power outages, you will want to get a “battery backup” system (just like the kind used for computers) to make sure your little buddy(ies) stay warm in case of a blackout. Any office supply store – or even WalMart – carries these battery backups, and most will last for HOURS since the heat rock itself doesn’t draw much electricity. :-)
In closing, at this stage you’re kind of at the point where you’ve just brought your new baby(ies) home from the hospital – and it’s time to “baby-proof” the house… Since your new little one(s) is still in the early stages of bonding with you, it’s probably not out running around exploring the house just yet, so NOW’S the time to take a quick “walk-through” each room… Just use your own common-sense, and keep in mind all the things we’ve just covered above.
As always, if you have any doubts it’s usually best to just err on the side of caution… and don’t hesitate to send us an email with any specific questions.
Lastly, if you haven’t already gone there, be SURE and log-in to the “Family Circle” Section of our website and check out ALL the other Special Reports & Video Clips that are waiting there for you! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much helpful information is right there at your fingertips – 24 hours a day :-)
Go Straight To Day Seven of the Sugar Glider Education Guide