Sugar Gliders – Sudden Blindness

A lot has been happening with my pair of sugar gliders in the past month. First, my male sugar glider had some health problems earlier in the month. The day that I returned from New Zealand, I looked into the cage and found him in a sad state, clutching to the bottom. It took me a few minutes to remove him because his grip on the wire was so tight. I brought him out and placed him in a shoe box.

For the next few days, I fed him gliderade (a commercial sugar water mix for sugar gliders) four times a day with a small spoon. At first, he resisted and I practically forced the liquid down his throat. Once he realized that the liquid was sweet and tasty, he started licking up the gliderade on his own. After about three days, I returned him to his mate and his cage because I knew sugar gliders love having company. I was afraid that keeping him isolated would prevent him from recovering. He seemed to have difficulty orientating himself in the cage and would immediately start climbing up. Once he got to the top, he would crawl around upside down until he reached the birds’ nest handing down and then perched himself there. Every time I saw him, he was sitting on top of that birds’ nest.

I started to think that perhaps this glider was blind. I was handling him frequently to check on his  health and he never tried to run from my hand when I reached in to get him. He never bit, which I would expect from a blind creature who is scared, but when he was in my hands, we would flail his two front legs around as if to touch and nearby objects. Also, when I placed him on my shoulder, he simply sat there. Normally, he would crawl all over my body, giving me little scratches from his sharp claws all over. I was suprised at this behavior and it really confirmed my suspicions.

I still don’t know for sure if the male sugar glider is blind since I cannot run any tests. I just have my observations. However, he seems to have adapted to his blindness. Early on, this mate would be found licking him and grooming him and she was happy to have him back. He learned to find the food on the bottom of the cage and in the food cup, as well as the water bottle. I tried not to move any of the nest boxes so that he would be able to find them from memory. He appears more tame now, if only because he cannot see where to go and therefore doesn’t dare to explore around the room now. I am extra careful now not to leave the cage open because if he gets out, I’m afraid he would be lost forever in the house. For now though, he seems to have adjusted to his blindness and as long as he can live without his sight, everythings appears to be okay.