Medical Issues & Information
COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS IN GLIDERS
- Feed a balanced diet. Find out more about appropriate diets here:
- Allow your glider to get some exercise even when in the cage. Do this by investing in a wheel! You can find our recommendations here:
- Allow your glider enough out of cage play time! Running around and climbing in a new place is a great way for your glider to exercise its body and its mind. Many people allow their glider to do this in a tent set up inside the house, or in the bathroom with supervision (and with the toilet lids down!). Gliders need out of cage play time.
Symptoms: Symptoms of mild seizures can include freezing, twitching, foaming at the mouth, jerking, choking-like sounds, lethargy, or other signs. Gliders having severe seizures will generally have very sudden, jerky movements, sometimes spreading out their arms and legs and then retracting them, and sometimes arching their backs.
Immediate treatment: Seizures are very serious. If a glider is having severe, repeated seizures in a very short period of time, the prognosis is not good for that glider, and an immediate vet visit is imperative if the glider is to be afforded any chance of survival. If your glider is having seizures, keep the glider warm and hydrated, and get them to a veterinarian.
Known causes: Generally, gliders who are about to pass away have a few seizures before they die. If your glider is otherwise in good health, seizures can be stress-induced, related to change in environment, a traumatic event, or other unknown causes. Additionally, severe dehydration can cause seizures.
Long term care: Gliders who have stress-related seizures can sometimes live a relatively happy and normal life. Owners should try to reduce or eliminate the seizure-inducing stressor as much as possible, if this can be ascertained.
Symptoms: Bacterial infections can cause a wide array of symptoms in gliders. Poorly groomed, dirty, or oily looking fur, oozing wounds, foul smell, red and hot tissue, and other symptoms can be signs of a bacterial infection.
Immediate Treatment: A vet visit is necessary to treat a any infection. If initial antibiotics are not effective, or if the infection is severe, a culture and sensitivity should be performed to ascertain which medication will work best for the specific bacteria that is infecting the glider.
Known Causes: Causes of bacterial infection can be rotting teeth, wounds, skin problems, or other unknown causes.
Long Term Care: While many bacterial infections do not recur, some do, such as infections of the face or mouth. Especially with mouth infections, thorough treatment and ongoing monitoring are necessary. See tooth decay/mouth infection for more information.
Other Information and Notes: As with infections in humans, infections in gliders can become deadly if left untreated.
Symptoms: Ick is a disease almost exclusively seen in joeys. The main symptom is extremely poorly groomed fur that often appears matted or clumpy.
Immediate Treatment: A culture and sensitivity are highly recommended to ascertain the ideal treatment plan. Antibiotics and anti-fungal medications are often prescribed, and the issue resolves.
Known Causes: Currently, we do not know what causes this infection in joeys. Generally, it is found to be a staph infection.
Long Term Care: With appropriate and thorough treatment, Ick will resolve and it will not recur.
Symptoms: Symptoms of HLP include dragging of back legs, frequent falling, and general weakness of the back portion of the glider.
Immediate Treatment: Immediate treatment for HLP or calcium deficiency generally includes oral calcium glubionate, prescribed by a veterinarian. If the paralysis is severe and the glider has a hard time moving around, until they show improvement, the glider should be temporarily kept in a smaller environment where climbing is not feasible, so that they cannot fall and break their already weak bones.
Known Causes: True hind leg paralysis is caused by lack of calcium in the diet, unless the paralysis is caused by a traumatic injury.
Long Term Care: With time and a proper diet, many gliders can recover from hind leg paralysis, although their bones will likely never be as strong as if they had a proper diet for their entire lives.
Other Information and Notes: Many issues in gliders are misdiagnosed as hind leg paralysis. The reality is that while this disease used to be prevalent in gliders, with improvements in diet, this disease is not that common anymore. There are other issues that can present as difficulty walking, dragging of back legs, or general weakness. A diagnosis of hind leg paralysis and treatment for such often does not fix the underlying issues from which the glider suffers. If calcium does not improve your gliders’ condition, and they have been diagnosed with hind leg paralysis, it is likely that they have been misdiagnosed or that some of their issues have been missed, and you should get a second opinion from a veterinarian with a lot of glider experience.
Symptoms: Paralysis due to injury can affect any part of a glider’s body. Paralysis due to injury can suddenly render a glider incapable of moving there back legs, back legs and front legs, other body part.
Immediate Treatment: A vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory other medication to treat some types of paralysis. However, if the injury is severe, palliative care may be the best option.
Known Causes: Gliders can become injured by falling, getting closed in cage doors, unsafe wheels, fighting, or a variety of other traumas.
Long Term Care: Depending on the severity of the paralysis, some gliders can live with it. However, with more severe paralysis, a glider’s quality of life will be severely diminished and long term care may not be the best solution.
For some types of blindness, timely treatment can reverse the issue.
Symptoms: Symptoms of urinary tract infection include hissing while urinating (hissing while pooping is normal, hissing while peeing indicates UTI), strong smelling urine, and sometimes unwillingness to eat or drink. If you notice that your gliders suddenly have a strong ammonia-like odor, it is likely that one of your gliders has a UTI.
Immediate Treatment: A vet visit is needed. The vet should prescribe antibiotics if urinary tract infection is suspected. After just a few days on antibiotics, symptoms should begin to improve, or a different antibiotic should be used.
Known Causes: Some gliders are just prone to UTIs for unknown reasons. Other causes of UTIs can include unsafe/rusty cages, and filthy environments.
Long Term Care: Gliders should be monitored/observed, generally when they first wake up in the evening, to watch for signs of UTI.
Other Information and Notes: UTIs are easily treated, but can become dangerous to gliders without treatment. Timely treatment is imperative.
- Female gliders are not spayed. They have two uteri, and a pouch, and spaying them is extremely dangerous and should not be done.
- Here are some questions to ask your vet prior to a neuter:
- What kind of neuter is it? Usually there are 3 choices, laser (ideal), radio (good), or scalpel (not great but ok).
- Do you use glue or stitches? If they say yes to either, ask them not to. If they won’t NOT use them, find another vet and repeat this process until you find a better one.