Sugar Glider Hydration: How to Bottle Feed Your Baby
How to Get A Sugar Glider to Drink from the Bottle & Stay Hydrated
Here's a Quick Video from Dr. David Brust, DVM Giving You the Best Ways to Keep Your Sugar Glider Hydrated!
Over all the years we’ve been doing this, one of the most common first questions or concerns we get from new “parents” is that one or more of their little babies won’t immediately drink out of its water bottle. Even though they followed the instructions in the QuickStart Audio CD by mixing a bottle with half Gatorade (or apple juice) and half water – and then touched their baby’s nose to it so it knows where its bottle is – for whatever reason, the baby still doesn’t appear to be drinking anything…
Well, since dehydration is THE single biggest health danger to tiny baby sugar gliders...
this is certainly a valid concern. However, it is perfectly normal for new babies to not want to drink from their water bottles for the first few days. In the beginning especially, baby sugar gliders get the majority of their liquids from their apples, so as long as they are eating their apple every day, (and you have a small slice of apple with them in their bonding pouch when you are carrying them around) they will usually be getting plenty of fluids and be fine.
However, just to make EXTRA sure your new baby(ies) are getting enough to drink, for the FIRST TWO WEEKS you have them ALSO put a small bowl of the water and Pedialyte or Gatorade mix in the “dining room” of their cage along with their food. Almost any type of small bowl – or even a bottle cap (like from a gatorade bottle) will work fine; just so long as it can’t easily be tipped over. A small weighted ashtray also works well (as long as its clean). It’s also a good idea to put a few different options of flavors / fluids initially in case they don’t like the Gatorade flavor you picked. After you start to see what their preference is you can continues with it.
By putting BOTH sources of water in their cage for the FIRST TWO WEEKS, it’s kinda like added “insurance” that your little darling(s) will get all the liquids they need :-)
During this “transitional” time, make sure to keep an eye on their water bottle every day, so that you can tell when they are drinking out of it. As the first two weeks pass, put a little less water in their bowl each day – and make sure they are transitioning to the water bottle. Just make sure to change the Gatorade(or juice) & water mixture every day (both in the bottle and bowl), since it can spoil quickly.
Make Sure to Clean the Tip of the Water Bottle Every Day
Also, since the Gatorade or apple juice are “sticky” – make SURE to thoroughly clean the “tip” of the water bottle every day just to make sure the little ball isn’t sticking. If this happens even one day and the baby can’t get water – it can severely dehydrate a little joey – so it’s always better to be safe than sorry and check to make sure the little ball is working correctly every day. :-)
Diarrhea is the First Outward Sign of Possible Dehydration
Now, with all that being said, in most cases the first outward sign of possible dehydration is diarrhea. In small baby Sugar Bears, diarrhea is usually brought on by one of two things: stress or dehydration Since your baby(ies) is in a new environment, it’s not unusual for them to be a little stressed and have a little diarrhea in the very beginning. However, if this lasts more than a couple days without at least a little firming up of their stools, then it could be a sign that the baby might be getting dehydrated.
In that case, this is usually a very simple problem to solve. In mild to medium cases of diarrhea, there are two basic things that will usually clear it up very quickly:
- Add a 50/50 Gatorade/Water Mixture to Your Sugar Glider's Water Bottle
- Give Them a Little Syrup (from canned peaches or fruit cocktail)
The first is to mix the water in their bottle with a 50/50 mixture of Gatorade. That’s right – Gatorade – and most Sugar Bears like any citrus-type flavor. As it turns out, the same electrolytes and other vital minerals that re-hydrate us humans – also works PERFECTLY for sugar bears – so just mixing it into their water bottle half & half is a great way to get their system balanced.
Actually, the main benefit of using Gatorade instead of apple juice in the water mixture is simply that it does not “spoil” as quickly as apple juice (which needs to be changed every day). Like little kids though, not all sugar bears like Gatorade, so if yours does not, then you will want to use apple juice instead :-)
That being said, the other thing that will usually help clear up diarrhea pretty quickly is just letting them have a little SYRUP (either from canned peaches or a can of fruit cocktail) every day for a couple days. Now remember, these little critters have an INCREDIBLE ‘sweet tooth”, so they will absolutely LOVE to lick up this syrup. Usually a couple large drops of it per day is sufficient, and you can actually use this little “trick” to help speed up the whole bonding process by letting them lick it off your fingers :-)
The great thing about these two “remedies” is that they are something you can also do – even if you don’t think your baby(ies) is dehydrated. These techniques can’t possibly harm them – and can actually act as a ‘preemptive’ safeguard to head off any potential problems, so if you want to try these just for fun – have at it :-)
Well, that’s about it for now. Like I said, don’t get too worried if your baby(ies) don’t drink out of their water bottle right off the bat. As long as they are eating their apples, that’s a good sign, just keep a close eye on them and in a few days chances are they will be drinking out of their bottle just fine.
Also, don’t forget that you can find a lot of GREAT veterinary-approved information about caring for these little guys at the Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians™ website: ASGV . Their free series of over 20 educational videos is outstanding – and another great place to look whenever you have questions.