As we all know, sugar gliders are marsupials, and they love sleeping in sleeping pouches. But how do you know if your sleeping pouch is safe?
We have compiled a few tips to help you ensure that your sleeping pouch is safe for your gliders.
Lets discuss some of the hazards that can cause injury or death when it comes to sleeping pouches or other cage accessories made of fabric. There are two main risks here. The first and biggest risk is that gliders will become entangled in any exposed or loose threads that are present. This is why it is unsafe to use rope, twine, yarn, exposed threads, serged edges, crown royal bags, or fabric that tends to fray inside the cage. We want to minimize materials in the cage in which gliders are likely to become tangled. We have seen many cases where gliders have gotten their toes, fingers, hands, feet, tails and heads caught in loose threads or string, and this leads to amputation, strangulation, and death. The second risk with sleeping pouches is that, even though double-layer pouches are what we consider to be the safest, sometimes gliders chew holes in the inner layer, and burrow in between the layers. This then leads to the potential of getting stuck between the layers, sometimes because they get tangled in threads, and sometimes because the hole they have made is not big enough for them to get back through it, and they cant emerge to access food and water.
Now that we know the two biggest risks, how can we minimize these risks to ensure that our gliders have a safe place to sleep? Here are a few ways.
First, many veteran glider owners prefer to use fleece as the only fabric they allow in their cage. There is good reason for this practice. Fleece is one of the few fabrics that does not fray. It is never stringy, so even if the gliders do chew through it, they likely won’t get tangled in the fabric itself. Most common fleeces will work – blizzard, anti-pill, plush, etc. Avoid minky or other fleece that may fray. Additionally, use fleece fort the tabs of your sleeping pouch, as opposed to elastic or other materials that will fray.
Second, make sure your fleece items are safely sewn. This means that they are double layered, reversible, all seams are hidden with exception of the small seam needed to turn the item right-side out after it is almost completely sewn. Having all hidden seams greatly reduces the risk of gliders becoming tangled because gliders do not come into contact with the thread. If your pouch is only a single layer, the seams are not hidden, regardless of whether you put the seam on the inside or outside. Gliders come into contact with both the inside and the outside of the pouches, so we need both the inside and the outside to be safe. We have an excellent photo tutorial that outlines how to sew a safe sleeping pouch. You can find it here.
Third, trim nails at least every two weeks. Trimming nails helps gliders avoid becoming stuck or tangled. We have a nail trimming tutorial here.
Finally, check and change your pouches regularly. It is a good idea to check your pouches every day to make sure that they do not have holes. I check on my gliders each day, and when the pouches are washed (I wash sleeping pouches about once every five days), I closely inspect the pouches for holes at that time. If the pouch develops a hole, it needs to be immediately discarded and replaced with a new one.
If you are very worried about sewn sleeping pouches, there are a few safe alternatives that pose a very low risk of entanglement. Alternatives to sewn sleeping pouches could include no-sew sleeping pouches or other cage items(you can find a tutorial here and also here) or other cage items, or a shallow plastic bucket, basket, or bin with fleece blankets and strips. Just make sure that your bucket is shallow enough so the gliders can climb out easily.
We hope this blog post will help you ensure that your gliders have the safest place to sleep. As always, please reach out with questions or suggested additional information on this topic. We love hearing your ideas.