A guide to raising Gliders
To raise and release any native species requires you to have a license from D.E.R.M. If you are interested in becoming a carer, please read through this site, then contact this group or another to find out about joining.
This information is a guide only. Practices change and are updated constantly.
It is necessary to have a license to raise a Glider.
This information is a guide to the raising and care of gliders, both squirrel and sugar gliders. Other gliders ie Yellow bellied, Feathertail and Greater Gliders do not commonly come into care, so specialized information will need to be asked for if one comes into your care.
Squirrel and sugar gliders prefer to live in colonies when in the wild, so it is necessary for them to be raised in colonies whilst in care. Babies can be raised individually to begin with, but must be placed in a colony to learn the skills necessary for survival upon release.
There have been cases of squirrel gliders being raised from 6 grams, but the smaller the animal, the less chance of survival. The size they cut fur and open their eyes will depend on the glider you have in care. A sugar will do this earlier than a squirrel glider, only because at 20 grams they are older. At this point they have a much better survival rate. Adult male gliders can weigh up to 260 grams, while females usually weigh up to 220 grams.
At some point of being a carer, you may be required to remove a baby from a dead mother’s pouch. If the baby is still attached to the teat, DO NOT PULL IT OFF. If you do, you will cause irreparable damage to the joey’s palate, and the baby will eventually die. Ensure first that the mother is dead, then cut the teat from the mother, but leave it in the baby’s mouth. The baby will eventually (in around 2-3 hours) spit out the teat itself. Please don’t be put off by this. There is no blood or mess, and the skin of the teat is very thin, smaller than a straw. There is no other way to remove the baby to save it.
Husbandry when they first come into care.
When an animal comes into care, it may well be cold and in shock. Do not attempt to feed a joey in this condition. Warm it gently, either with your own body heat or a hot water bottle. Once the baby is warm and more responsive, you can offer milk. There are several things that can be offered to counteract shock –
1. Glucose and water – 1/3 of a teaspoon of glucose mixed with 25 ml of water- offer small amounts, perhaps 1-2 mls for the first few hours. Once the baby is warm and has done a wee, offer milk instead of glucose.
2. Rescue remedy – a couple of drops of Rescue Remedy – available from Health Food Shops – in the mouth will help calm the animal.
Make sure your cage or basket is glider proof – they do tend to go walk-a-bout even with their eyes still closed!
IN A NUTSHELL. . . . . . .
Unfurred or under 20 grams- you will need perseverance and patience to raise a little one like this. Be prepared to do night time feeds in the wee small hours! Once a glider hits around 20 gram they have a much better chance of survival. Their eyes start to open anywhere from this weight on, and it is pure delight to be the one that they see first!
These babies must be kept warm at all times. You will need a hospital box or a basket with a heat pad to offer constant heat. A hot water bottle will do the job, but you must ensure that the water is kept up to temperature. There must be an ambient temperature of around 30 -32 C. Place the baby in a snug pouch. Layer a towel over the top to keep in warmth.
BOTTLES AND TEATS
Bottles & teats – Empty vanilla essence bottles make good sized bottles for baby possums. Each variety of possum has its own type of teat – for gliders it is long and thin, or pointy. Make sure you have put a hole in the teat, a suitable size for the baby. Use a large needle to make the hole. The teat will need to be soft and malleable for the baby to use. Ensure that bottles and teats are washed after every feed. Small bottle brushes can be purchased for cleaning the bottles. Always rinse them well. Some carers prefer to use syringes –use what is best for you and the joey.
Only make up enough milk for one days usage. Made up milk and milk powder must be refrigerated, and never reheat milk. I keep a tin of powder in the fridge, but my main quantities in the freezer, taking out what I use in a week to store in the fridge. If you are going out or away, milk will need to taken on an ice pack to stop it going ‘off’.
There are several formula milk powders you can use, but Onarr carers have had good success with Divetelact – 1 scoop to 50 mils warm water. Talk to your register head about what formula to use.
Make sure that the animal is warm and comfortable before attempting to feed it. A cold animal will not feed. Hold it firmly but gently in one hand whilst offering the syringe or bottle in the other. Ensure the joey has toileted before you feed milk.
Milk needs to be just over finger warmth, but not HOT.
Small gliders should be fed with their head horizontal with the teat or syringe. Do not feed them so much that the milk comes back out their nose – inhaling milk into their lungs is dangerous. Let them lick at their own pace. A very young baby may not have its mouth open enough to take a teat or syringe, so in this case drip feed it. Place a drop of milk on its mouth and let it lick it in – have patience, experience at drinking will come!
More experienced animals can be fed in an upright position, and their frequency of feeding will depend upon the size/age/need of the glider. Very young babies will need feeding two hourly, working up hours as their body weight increases. They are usually weaned between 30 and 50 grams. Gliders lap readily, so encourage your baby to lap from a small size. If the glider is very small or a pinkie, try wrapping it in a tissue to hold it still whilst feeding – have their head out but the body wrapped up. Try holding them with one hand around their body and their head between your thumb and first finger. This will help give you control and help to keep their head in an upright position and facing in the right direction.
Furless babies may need a little moisturizer on their skin to stop them drying out – if their skin feels dry, ask an experienced carer for information.
Stimulation for body hygiene may be necessary for young gliders. Mother gliders lick the cloacae to encourage the baby to toilet - you are not expected to go that far! A damp tissue gently rubbed over the area will stimulate a baby to toilet. Baby gliders often make a ‘ch-ch’ sound whilst toileting. Sometimes part of the cloacae protrudes, which is normal for gliders. Once a baby has fur and is grooming itself, keep a check that the glider is toileting itself before stopping entirely.
Human contact is necessary –babies bond with their carers. Like all babies, they need love to thrive – as they grow older, contact is decreased. Making a ‘tut-tutting’ noise lets them know you are approaching the cage, so they do not stress. Contact with pets is not to be encouraged, as cats and dogs are natural predators in the wild.
By around 35 grams a baby is ready for an inside cage. They need to learn about exploring their environment, and how to climb and glide, and land safely. A variety of food should be offered, always remembering that gliders are omnivores –they like meat and vegetables!
By 40 grams gliders should be ready to drop a milk feed, and start showing interest in other food stuffs. Offer banana, avocado, and other soft fruits. Joey may not show much interest at first, but interest will increase. Gliders are individuals, as we are, and their tastes will vary. Try custards, baby cereal, fruits, rice, pasta, vegetables, eggs – especially scrambled, unsalted nuts –peanuts, cashews and almonds, shelled sunflower seeds, dry dog or cat food moistened with a little water.
Don’t forget the insects- grasshoppers, mealworms, beetles, cockroaches. Placing the insects inside a container like a large base of a flower pot (which prevents them escaping) with some leaf litter encourages the gliders to hunt their own food
Flora – Gliders enjoying scrabbling in the bark from trees – all the little goobies like to live in the bark. They also like the sap from the bark – putting the off-cut branches into water will encourage the sap to flow.
Flowers – gliders also enjoy pollen so offer flowers from native trees.
Water should always be supplied.
By the time your glider is around the 90 gram to 100 gram weight, you should be looking for a colony for it to join. Gliders are social animals, and they stress if they are raised on their own. Seeing them accepted into a colony is a delightful experience, and they have a greater survival rate if they are colonized.
Please remember that this information is a general guide to the raising of gliders. Should you have any queries or problems please contact an experienced carer or register head.
B. Clarke and K. Schulz. ©
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