What’s a Sugar Glider and is it a good pet? 0 57

Pet sugar glider

When it comes to unusual pets, they don’t come much cuter than Sugar Gliders, sometimes referred to as Sugar Babies.

However, don’t let their sweet features and “pocket size” fool you into thinking these cuties don’t need specific pet care. As with all animal breeds, getting appropriate pet care advice is essential. Not least to be sure that you are ready for some of the less than appealing aspects of life with your new “buddy”.

Profile of a Sugar Glider

These marsupials originate from Australia and Tasmania, and also Indonesia and New Guinea. Their entire length is usually about 12 inches, though half of that is their distinct long tail. Their lifespan can be anything up to 15 years.

Females have a pouch for carrying around their offspring (joeys). The males have more distinctive scent glands around their head and chest (which they are not afraid to use, so be ready for a distinct odour!).

Why you need more than one

Various breeds of Sugar Gliders are becoming more readily available in the UK. However, without exception they are best kept in groups. That’s because they are naturally sociable animals and would become depressed and distressed if kept as a single pet.

Which means that to have a Sugar Glider as a pet, you need to be ready to commit to buying at least two of your chosen breed.

Care of a Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders need specific accommodation and food and you will need access to a vet who handles exotic species. For example, despite their name, these unusual pets require a low sugar diet and their vivarium should have monitored heating and lighting.

It’s also important to be aware that Sugar Gliders are nocturnal and it is common for them to bite, especially in the first few months of bonding with their owner. Both factors tend to make them less attractive as pets in households where there are young children.

The joys of owning a Sugar Glider

However, a Sugar Baby is a beautiful and beguiling type of pet.

As with many other exotic animals, whether they bond with their owner comes down to how they are handled when young and the individual animal’s personality. However, many owners report that Sugar Gliders are affectionate, fun creatures.

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Why muesli is not the best choice for your chinchilla 0 56

Is muesli good for chinchillas?

Chinchillas are quite happy to gobble up treats, with raisins being their number one favourite snack. However, much like choosing food for ourselves, we know that too much in the way of sugary snacks can cause serious health problems. This problem is exacerbated in chinchillas, whose sensitive digestive systems can be badly affected by excessive sugars and starches.

What should your chinchilla be eating?

The best food you can give your chinchilla is a simple pellet food. These hard pellets contain all the nutrients your chinchilla needs, and are designed to be crunchy, to wear down ever-growing chinchilla teeth, minimising dental problems that come from tooth and root overgrowth.

The problem with muesli

Despite pellets being proven to be the best option, many pet shops unwittingly stock what looks like muesli for chinchillas. You can find pellets in these colourful mixtures, but they’ll be mixed in with raisins, dried fruits and vegetables and small pieces of hay or alfalfa. These will be full of claims that they “encourage foraging, just like in the wild”. However, your chinchilla is more likely to pick out the bits they like, leaving the pellets.

Let’s be honest here as well – when confronted with a bowl of sugary treats mixed in with vegetables and oats, you’d be drawn to the sugary treats first of all, too, so the chinchilla picking the nice parts out of the mix isn’t completely daft. The problem is that this selective feeding is no good for your chinchilla. There’s no way you can be sure that your pet is getting the nutrition they need if all they’re picking out is the dried vegetables, or sweet raisins. It’s a bit like humans trying to live entirely off sweets. It tastes good, but in the long run, they’re going to suffer.

While pellets may look bland and unexciting, they really are the best way to ensure that your pet is getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to keep them happy and healthy. The pellet-based food has been designed to deliver your chinchilla their exact dietary needs. You’ll also find you use far less pellet food, as it will fill up your chinchilla’s stomach without needing top ups. You won’t be throwing out the unwanted muesli bits on a daily basis, either.

How to solve the problem

If you’re making the change to pellets from muesli, remember to do so gradually, mixing pellets in with the muesli and reducing the quantity of muesli in the mix until the food bowl contains just pellets. Your chinchilla may initially be reluctant, but they’ll come to thank you for it.

For more pet care advice and tips on looking after unusual pets, check out our blog or contact us today.

How to prepare for a fennec fox 0 74

You’ve seen these beautiful little creatures plastered all over the internet and the time has come to introduce one to your family. Like most unusual pets, the fennec fox is considered a wild breed of animal. There are a few things to take into consideration before welcoming one of these large-eared mammals into your home.

They need space

And a lot of it. These adorable little foxes are energetic and need space to move around in. Unlike with a cat or dog, you can’t let them have run of the house while you are sleeping or away. They are playful, delicate creatures with long claws and an affinity for digging. Give them a large indoor pen or cage that is entirely escape and damage proof. If you have space outside, you can set up a kennel. Fennecs come from a warm climate, so you’ll have to make sure the outside kennel has a heated area. Remember those long claws just love to dig, so make the enclosure escape proof.

Litter box training

Each fennec fox is different but most take well to litter box training. Just remember, if they get over excited or desperate, the will go wherever they are. Unlike cats, they do not go outside on their own and should never be allowed to do so. Make sure the litter box area is sectioned off because fennecs love digging in it. Many owners have had great success by laying down puppy pads in certain areas of the house.

Noise Management

Fennecs vary widely in their noise habits. They are predominantly nocturnal and will yip at night when they play. Some are quiet and only make sounds when they see you in the morning. Their barking sounds similar to that of a dog but is slightly muffled. They rarely bark and instead trill and yip while they play. If you leave them alone too long they might let out a wail that will tug at your heartstrings.

Other things to remember

These adorable little foxes are like a halfway point between cat and dog. They can be mischievous and will nibble on most small objects in their path. Make sure you hide anything that could get into their digestive system. They enjoy chewing on rubber, so wires should be placed out of their reach.

Although these exotic, unusual pets can be a handful, they will spend a large portion of the day adorably curled up and cuddling on your lap. They are friendly and get along well with other domestic pets, making them the perfect addition to your family.

For more information regarding pet care advice, get in touch here.

Photo: Fennec Fox by suneko licensed under Creative commons 2