What’s a Sugar Glider and is it a good pet? 0 541

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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3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 358

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they’re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It’s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.

What can degus eat? 0 481

What can degus eat

When they’re living in the wild, degus focus on dietary fibre. It makes up about 60% of their diet, with the other 40% consisting of natural vegetation. But when they’re kept as pets, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what you feed your degu.

Good quality hay

For the most part, your degu’s diet should consist of good quality hay. There are lots of brands that will suffice, but two of particularly good quality are Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay. Keep an eye on the colour: if it’s pink or white, you should throw this hay away as it’s growing mould. If it’s green, it can cause bloating. Occasionally, you can mix some Alfalfa hay in with your regular hay. It’s high in protein, so great in small doses.

You can top up your degu’s bowl with a little bit of guinea pig or degu-specific food, but don’t go overboard. It’s important that your degu doesn’t start ignoring the hay because it’s got a range of health benefits, including the maintenance of a healthy gut and strong teeth. Around 10g of degu food a day should do the trick.

Human food in moderation

The good news is you can feed your degu some of your human food! Give them to your degu in moderation though, as they can cause gas and bloating. On rotation, you can feed them the following foods around once or twice a week:

• Asparagus
• Carrot tops
• Dandelion leaves
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Fresh herbs
• Brussels sprouts
• Celery
• Cabbage
• Courgette
• Green beans
• Beetroot
• Dried herbs
• Pumpkin
• Butternut squash
• Marigold flowers
• Radish

Some sugary foods can be an occasional treat for your degu. In excess, they carry the risk of diabetes, so we’d only recommend doing this once a month.

• Apple
• Cherry tomatoes
• Peas
• Sweet potato
• Carrots
• Cucumber
• Sweetcorn or corn on the cob

When it’s treat time for your degu, give them a tiny amount (one or two) of:

• Sunflower seeds
• Peanuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Whole nuts

As a general rule, the main thing to avoid giving your degu is fruit not listed here, rabbit food, hamster food or anything with molasses.

Just like us, degus love food – whether it’s good or bad for them. Bookmark this page to make sure you give your degu a balanced diet, and happy feeding!

Learn more about caring for your degu and other pet care advice here: http://www.nichepets.com/category/mammals/degus/