How to Eliminate Sugar Glider Odors
My Sugar Glider Smells! What Should I Do?
First, while it is true that – when fed the correct diet EXACTLY as we lay it out – sugar bears have almost no discernible odor; when they are young babies (and their little digestive systems are busy developing) their urine and feces can sometimes have a pretty strong smell. This is especially true if/when they are under a lot of stress and/or get diarrhea. Now, if you notice a “skunky” smell coupled with a white milky substance coming from their rectum, don’t worry. That smell is a defense mechanism triggered when they’re afraid. As you begin to bond with the animal it will go away completely.
Couple this with the fact that most of the time you will be “wearing” your little darling(s) around in a pouch/pocket during this “bonding” phase of their lives – and the whole situation can sometimes get kinda messy until you master a couple simple techniques.
Now obviously different people have different sensitivities to smells. While most people regard sugar bears as practically odorless every once in a while we’ll hear from someone who finds the smell much more distracting. If you try all the suggestions below and have no success alleviating the “odor” you detect, you may just happen to have a particularly strong olfactory sense. Fortunately in most of those cases, people get used to the scent over time and it doesn’t bother them.
SO, here goes… :-)
First off, the single most important way to avoid most odor problems with sugar bears is simply to follow the EXACT diet of:
- bread, and
- the yogurt (or applesauce)
This exact diet is laid out for you in GREAT DETAIL both in the purple Quick-start Audio CD – and many of the daily emails. It is important to note that if you deviate from this diet – even a LITTLE bit – when they are young, you will almost always encounter diarrhea and the strong smell (and health problems) that go along with it.
As they get older, it’s very entertaining to feed them other “fun foods” as OCCASIONAL treats only. That being said, throughout their lives, the central “core” of their diet should always be:
- apples, or other fruits and vegetables you have in the house
NOTE: If you begin to feed them any of the hundreds of more complicated diets that can easily be found all over the internet, your sugar bears will almost certainly develop a very strong, MUSKY odor – similar to that of a ferret – and once this starts, it is very difficult to get them smelling good again :-)
Ok, now assuming you are feeding them the correct diet, the BEST way to avoid a “stinky” situations and/or “accidents” on your clothing throughout the day is simply to THOROUGHLY “DE-POO” and “DE-PEE” them immediately as you take them out of the cage (Only start doing this after they’re bonded and you can handle them easily without getting bitten). Like any animal, they can only poo/pee a certain amount, and once they are “empty”, you are pretty much in the clear for the next few hours.
Here are a couple simple shortcuts to help you accomplish this.
First off, it is very important to ALWAYS keep a container of baby wipes right beside the cage. These little “wonders of technology” are the PERFECT multi-purpose sugar bear accessory (as you will see in a minute), and it’s important to have a couple of them out BEFORE you even open the cage door every morning.
Once you pull each baby out its cage (one at a time of course) you will notice that the potty race is immediately “ON” – and having baby wipes already out and handy is a big deal :-) With most sugar bears – the combination of being woken up – and physically moving around – almost immediately stimulates them to begin emptying themselves.
This usually begins with a couple pellets of poo – and then alternates between a few drops of pee, and then some more poo. It won’t take you long to figure out each sugar bear’s normal “capacity” (they will be somewhat different) – and the whole process can take as long as 5-7 minutes per sugar bear. With this in mind, once they are out of their cage, here’s a little “shortcut” that will help this process move along more quickly. We call it the “TreadMill” :-)
The basic principle here is that as soon as you get the baby out of the cage, you want to keep its little arms/legs moving all the time. The more they move, the more their bowels are stimulated to push everything out of their system. This process is pretty simple to accomplish since they naturally want to run around anyway – but the “trick” here is to keep their movements CONTROLLED so that they “empty themselves” exactly where YOU want them to :-) The way you accomplish this is simply to turn your hands into a miniature “TreadMill”… When you first pick the baby up, just position them on your hands over a couple baby wipes so that everything will “fall” where it should.
Then, IMMEDIATELY start to move your hands – one over the other – in a circular motion; creating a sort of “TreadMill” for the baby to walk on. It’s best to immediately FORCE the baby to start walking by gently “dumping” them from one hand into the other – constantly keeping them moving. In the beginning, babies will often try to jump off you, or up onto your arm/shoulders, so it’s important to be AHEAD of the game, by keeping hands moving from the second you take them out. This way they will get used to this little “ritual” in a short period of time – and don’t have time to jump anywhere else. To help illustrate how this is done, we’ve put together a short VIDEO clip of exactly what “the TreadMill” looks like. It's available under "helpful videos"
Again, you will quickly notice that each sugar bear has slightly different “capacities” and potty habits. For example, some sugar bears will do all their “business” in a very orderly fashion that takes just a couple minutes to complete. Others though, will go off-and-on, in “spurts” – so that just when you think they’re all done – they hop on your shoulder and leave you a nice little “surprise” :-)
That being said, the most common mistake new moms & dads make when “emptying” their sugar bears each morning is just STOPPING THE TREADMILL TOO SOON. Again, once you learn your particular sugar bear’s potty habits, this will almost never happen – but here’s another little TRICK to kinda make SURE they’re “all done” before you drop them in your pocket and start your day :-)
To accomplish this little trick, we will again turn to that little “miracle of technology” referred to as:
The Baby Wipe….
Basically, once you are pretty sure your baby is “done”, just flip them over on their back in one hand, and gently wipe their bottom with a baby wipe a few times. Now, especially as small babies, they might not like this at first, but after a little wiping, they’ll figure out REAL fast that it actually feels pretty good :-)
The thing that makes this little technique work SO well is simply that the cool wet surface of the wipe directly touching their private parts AUTOMATICALLY stimulates them to release any little extra “gifts” they might have been holding onto for later. It’s a biological process they simply can’t fight, so this extra little step goes a LONG way towards avoiding future accidents on your good clothing. :-) By the way, another added benefit of this technique is that it allows you to quickly and thoroughly clean any parts of the animal that have become “soiled” (ie. poo matted into the tail, etc..).
Again, to help illustrate how this is done, you can view this video and many more by taking a look at "helpful videos"
Ok, now assuming that your baby is bonded and you have THOROUGHLY de-poo’d/pee’d your baby, you normally should not have any more accidents for the next 3-4 hours. Remember, it’s important to always keep a slice of apple in your pocket or pouch with them – so that they have a constant source of liquids & nutrients right there if they need them. What this means is that since they will always have a source of food with them – you should take them out about every 3 hours or so – and repeat the little ritual above.
Over time, as you do this CONSISTENTLY you will find that your sugar bear(s) will get VERY used to this routine. In fact, as they get older, they will often let you know they have to go throughout the day – simply by waking up and moving around in your pocket/pouch. Just like us humans, whenever we wake up from a nap, the first thing we usually all want to do is go to the bathroom. So, whenever you notice movement in your pocket/pouch after they have been napping awhile, it’s a good idea to just take them out and stick them on the “Ol TreadMill” for a couple minutes :-)
Also, if you don’t want to be doing laundry all the time, oftentimes, people get additional pouches so each member of the family has one – or so that they always have a clean one handy. If you’d like to do that, just check out the online store at our website.
Ok, now that we’ve thoroughly covered the whole “emptying” process in great detail, let’s cover IF – and HOW – to bathe your new addition(s)…and one sure-fire way to eliminate any unpleasant odors instantly!
First, like we cover in the purple QuickStart audio CD, sugar bears instinctively like to keep themselves VERY clean – and are almost constantly grooming both themselves – and the other sugar bears around them. The only real exception to this is when they are sick…
Now having said that, in the first few weeks when they are still very young, it is somewhat common for them to get urine/feces mixed into their fur – and develop an unpleasant smell.
If this happens to you, there are basically TWO ways to “bathe” them…
The EASIEST, and most common, method of bathing is simply to “wipe them down” thoroughly with…guess what?… a Baby Wipe :-) A single baby wipe (when rubbed all over their tiny body) will pretty much drench a baby – giving them a good little “mini-bath”. It will also leave them with a fresh, pleasant smell :-)
If that doesn’t completely get rid of any odors, then just give them a REAL bath in a plastic bowl using a small amount of baby shampoo and warm water. Baby shampoo is completely non-toxic, and it works very well at giving them a thorough bath. Just remember, sugar bear’s can’t swim AT ALL, so don’t let them near any “deep” water :-)
****IMPORTANT HEALTH ALERT****
THE BIGGEST DANGER whenever you bathe a sugar bear is HYPOTHERMIA – and no matter which technique you use – you must ALWAYS DRY THEM OFF COMPLETELY immediately after you get them wet. It’s important to realize that “air drying” (ie. evaporation) is a COOLING process – and if you let your sugar bear “air dry”, they WILL probably get very cold. As tiny babies especially, they can’t hold their own body heat very well yet, so IMMEDIATELY after bathing them you will want to put them in a nice warm towel and dry them THOROUGHLY until their fur is nice and fluffy again. Then, make sure they are either right up against your body – or near their heat rock – until they are TOTALLY dry. DO NOT USE A BLOW DRYER – since the extreme heat generated can easily damage a sugar bear’s sensitive eyes and delicate, “velvety” ears :-)
Now, as far as instantly removing ANY kind of odor that’s coming from your sugar bears – or their cage/pouch – there are TWO things you can do that work VERY well…
The first is an amazing new, all-natural odor destroyer that is specifically made for Sugar Gliders. It’s called Od-R-Gone, and it’s simply the best thing we’ve ever seen in 15 years. Od-R-Gone, is an all-natural, food-based odor destroyer that is COMPLETELY safe to spray into your sugar bear’s cage – on their food -and even directly ON THEM (just try to keep it out of their eyes). It has a minty-fresh scent, and it is the ONLY thing we recommend for spraying directly on the cage or sugar bears. It comes in a handy 8oz spray bottle that can be taken with you anywhere.
The SECOND thing is a product called “Sprink-L-Fresh“. Again, this is made specifically for Sugar Bears, but it works differently than the Od-R-Gone… You see, many times, if you begin to notice an “odor” coming from the cage, it’s almost always coming from either: 1) dirty toys, or 2) the waste tray at the bottom of the cage. While it IS true that (when fed the correct diet) a Sugar Bear’s urine and feces have almost no discernible smell, when it sits in the tray at the bottom of the cage for long periods of time – and MIXES together with small chunks of fermenting apple that also end up in the tray – the whole thing can definitely begin to smell. Since the chunks of apple, the poo, and the pee are all “acidic” in nature, when they mix together and “sit there”; they can often start to smell…
Fortunately, there’s a very easy way to solve this problem – and that is just to sprinkle a little “Sprink-L-Fresh” in the poo tray every time you change out the poo tray :-) The unique ingredients in Sprink-L-Fresh INSTANTLY neutralize anything that hits the tray – and stops them from causing any odor. It’s quick, easy – and works great :-)
If you’d like to find out more about Od-R-Gone and Sprink-L-Fresh, just go to the online store on our website.
Well, that’s about it for today’s tip! As I said earlier, once you get the “TreadMill” down, accidents will decrease substantially, and the whole process becomes pretty routine for both you and your Sugar Bear(s). To see some great Video Clips on how to hold your baby and “walk” them like this, make sure to go to the “Important Videos for New Moms & Dads” section of the Family Circle. You can also see some great videos on this topic at the Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians™ at: www.ASGV.org
As they get used to doing this technique, you and your friends will constantly be amazed at just how SMART these little guys are :-)