Information About Joeys

When you decide to breed your gliders, you have to be prepared for a lot of awful consequences that may happen. Aside from the possible mating wounds that your female might get, there's also the potential situation of joeys (sugar glider babies) being rejected by their mother. Being a glider parent, you'd move heaven and earth to save the lives of your grandchildren. Below are some information that may aid you in saving a joey's life.

Please note that all information written on this page are taken from here: Jennifer Bender's Web.
Other useful details can also be found here: Suz' Site

Always remember that though you have the information on handraising a joey, always consult your glider knowledgeable vet for further advices.

Joey Rejection & Cannibalization

Unfortunately there are many factors that can contribute to joey rejection and/or canalization. It is impossible to say exactly why this happens. Some of the reasons we know of may be preventable, others are not. Here are a few that we are aware of:
Poor Diet or Diet Deficiency: Lactating parents require a very special dietary balance with increased amounts of both calcium and protein. Protein and calcium are directly related to the amount of milk the mother can produce. If the mother does not have enough milk production, she may reject or cannibalize her joey(s). It is quite painful for a mother to have a suckling joey on her teat with little milk production, so she may bite at the joey(s), reject or cannibalize them. To avoid this, we recommend following proven diet plans which you can find here. Remember, a sugar glider mother will put herself before her young. If she is lacking necessary vitamins or minerals, she will dispose of her babies for her own survival and health. If your female was recently on an unhealthy diet, wait at least 6 months after getting her on a proven diet before allowing her to breeding.

Inexperienced and/or Young Mothers: Sometimes a mother may breed too young, and not be prepared for raising joeys. Young mothers may not have developed the instincts needed to raise her babies successfully. In addition, her body is still growing, and may not be able to support proper lactation to raise healthy babies. A female should be at least 9-12 months before attempting to breed to avoid this.

Physical and/or Medical Problem with Joey: Even if the joey(s) may have appeared normal to you, there may have been a problem. Sugar Gliders are very intuitive creatures. Joey(s) that are sickly, genetically deformed, or have other problems may attract predators to the nest. If there is a problem with their young, they will dispose of it as necessary.

Stress: Stress can have many effects on a mother as well as the pair/colony. Remember, a mother will not risk her own health for her joey(s). She will reject and/or cannibalize her young if her stress level is too high.
Some stress triggers include:

1. Relocating or changing their cage while female has joeys in/out of pouch. Avoid relocating or changing cages (permeate housing changes) while the female has joeys in/out of pouch. New sights and smells will make them more nervous until they establish their new "territory". They may reject or dispose of their young until they deem their new environment safe.

2. Moving the gliders to a new home while the female has joey in/out of pouch. Try to avoid relocating your sugar gliders to a new home if at all possible when a female has joeys in/out of pouch. The new surroundings, smells, and people may cause the gliders to become very defensive and nervous. They may dispose or reject any young until they have established a new territory and feel safe once more.

3. Adding sugar gliders to an established pair/colony or changing a females mate. Introducing new sugar gliders to an established pair/colony is rarely ever recommended, this is especially true when breeding. New males will most likely kill another males joeys to produce his own. Newly introduced females may kill or attempt to steal another females young. Introducing any sugar glider to an established pair/colony can create a break down in "pecking order", cause territorial issues, as well as possible jealousy and dominance problems.

4. Removing the male from the female. Do not remove the male from the female when she has joeys. Males help to raise their young. Mothers are very much dependant on them to baby sit, keep the joey(s)warm, and to help teach the joey(s) what being a glider is all about.

5. Seeing or Smelling another glider outside of her colony. Sugar gliders are very territorial. If you have more than one glider pair/colony in the same room, but in different cages, try using a full cage cover over their cage. This way they will not see each other, and it will help keep their colonies scent within their cage. By doing this the pair will feel more secure in their territory. Placing the cages as far apart as possible, or placing each cage of gliders in a different room will help as well.

6. Mother or joeys being handled with joeys ip/oop before being completely bonded to you. Sugar gliders that are not completely bonded to their human companions may see you as a threat. If you are not completely bonded to the parents, and have had rejection/canalization issues in the past, try waiting to hold the joey until it is 10-14 days out of pouch. After this time period chances of rejection and cannibalization go down. Start off handling the joey in the presence of the parents for short times, and then increase increments as the parents become accustom to you handling their joey(s).

Illness: The female will not risk her own health to raise her joey(s). She will reject or cannibalize her young to save or maintain her own health. To help avoid this, take the pair/colony to the vet prior to breeding to ensure there isn't an underlying health issue. Sugar gliders can easily hide illnesses until it has become extremely advanced.

Trio or Colony Settings: Females within a colony setting may fight, steal babies, or attempt to kill each others offspring. Sometimes colonies/trios will work out well with twin sisters or females that have been raise together from a very young age. Please understand that even though the trio/colony works out a few times, it does not mean you are in the clear. Some trios have been noted to work out well for years, and then have severe problems later on.
Why do glider cannibalize their young?
Sugar gliders are exotic animals still maintain many of their "wild" instincts. To avoid drawing predictors or sickness to the colony, sugar gliders will cannibalize young. If there are any remains, usually they will remove it as far away from their nest as possible.

She cannibalized/rejected her babies will she do it next time?
There is no way to know for sure if she will or not. The best you can do is rectify any situations that may have caused her to loose her joeys in the past. If the behavior continue, you will need to neuter the male to avoid further rejections and heart ache for you and the sugar gliders. We usually use the 3 strikes rule. Not all pairs/colonies are meant to be parents.

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