|Written by Susan|
Sugar gliders are born after only 16 days of gestation and spend a long period of time in the mothers pouch while they finish developing. Baby sugar gliders are extremely delicate and small when they are first born and should not be disturbed. Sugar glider parents are very alert and attentive to their young and most of the work to care for a new born sugar glider will be done by the parents.
You should make sure the cage is well taken care of and there is plenty of high nutrition foods available for the sugar gliders while the female is nursing her young. If you have several sugar gliders in the colony you will want to watch the mother sugar glider to make sure she is getting enough of the food she needs to properly care for her developing babies.
After the baby has worked its way into the mother sugar gliders pouch it will locate one of the four nipples inside the pouch and attach to the mother with this nipple. This is where the baby sugar glider will remain for about 10 weeks.
During the first moments the sugar glider is in the mother pouch it will locate and attach its self to the mother's nipple. After attaching to the nipple the nipple will expand or swell and lock the underdeveloped jaw on the nipple. Since the jaw of the baby sugar glider is so weak if it becomes dislodges or removed from the nipple it will not be able to reattach and will die. With that in mind it is very important that you leave the baby sugar glider attached to the nipple and allow it to develop properly before handling it.
Ā At the first week of life the sugar glider will start to look like a hairless baby mouse (pinky). They are very easy for the mother sugar glider to hide in the pouch and you may not be able to locate them or see them if the mother chooses to hide them inside her pouch. The mother sugar gliders pouch may look a little puffy but you may not be able to notice the puffy or fullness since the baby glider is still very small. The pouch may also look a little more open but again this will be ever so slightly and you will really have to know your sugar glider to see the change.
In the second week of life the sugar glider will still be very small, at this point the sugar gliders legs and arms are starting to develop more and the tail will begin to look more like a tail and less like an unusual growth. The baby sugar gliders will be more of a small lump in the mothers pouch at this time but it is still possible for the mother to hide the babies in her pouch is she chooses to do so.
Once you have reach the third week of life for the baby sugar glider you will be developing into a cute little sugar glider. You will notice the arms and legs are better developed with toes starting to form. The eye will be quite a bit larger and the ears will be formed on top of the gliders head and the tail will still be short but you will be able to tell it's a tail at this stage.
In the fourth week or at a month of age for the baby sugar glider you will notice them as obvious lumps in the pouch. At this stage a new mother may reject her baby or may become cannibalistic if she does not know how to properly care for the young sugar glider. Mothers may also do this is there is a problem with the baby or if the mothers nutrition is not good enough to support the health of the baby and herself. It is very important to make sure you are offering the correct foods for your mother sugar glider. It is also said to be helpful to have a soft nesting pouch (preferable a fleece material) for the mother to spend most of her time. It is also said to be good to allow the father to continue to be with the mother for the bonding and raising of the babies. This eliminates some of the stress to the mother and seems to have more successful births.
After 40 days your young sugar gliders will look like small peanuts under the mother's protective pouch. They will be very easy to see at this stage and if you have the great opportunity to see them inside the cage you will notice the skin is see through allowing you to see the bones and organs of the baby sugar glider. The whiskers will be starting to form beside the large nose and the eyes will have a think skin over them. There will also be nails developing on the much more defined and formed toes. The tail should be about the same length as the sugar gliders body. If you watch the pouch area of the sugar glider you may notice an occasional tail or leg stick out of the mothers pouch.
After 60 days of life for the baby sugar gliders your baby sugar gliders will start to explore life outside of the mother's protective pouch. At this point the sugar gliders jaw is strong enough to reattach to the mothers nipple. If there are more than one baby sugar glider you will notice each will come out of the pouch at different times sometimes up to two weeks apart, this is completely normal and allows each of the sugar gliders to fully develop at their own pace without harming the other sugar gliders. Your young sugar gliders will have a very thin fur covering their back and the front will still be completely bare and pink in color. The sugar gliders eyes will still have a thin layer of skin over them to help protect them but the ears will start to stand up away from their heads during this time of development. This is when you should start handling your baby sugar gliders making sure to only handle them for small times frames just a few minutes a day at first and slowly adding more time as the baby gliders and mother gliders seem to feel more comfortable. You can also determine the sex of the baby sugar gliders by looking on their tummy; remember boys have the distinctive sex organs.
After your baby sugar glider is out of the mother's pouch about 4 days to a week you will notice they start to make a little crying noise when they are away from their parents. When the parents hear this little noise they will come running to the baby sugar gliders rescue. The baby sugar gliders will be to large to fit more than their heads into the mothers pouch for nursing. The mother sugar glider will carry the small sugar gliders on her back to help them explore their new environment and learn the necessary skills to survive.
From one week to two weeks of age the baby sugar gliders fur will begin to thicken and start to cover their tummies. Their eyes will start to open and they will be able to hear much better than before. The baby sugar glider's bottom teeth will be developed and growing and they should be starting to show signs of teething on the top gums where the top teeth will be growing very soon. The parents will take the growing babies with them for more exploring and learning. The baby sugar gliders will also be making more noises and if handled in small time frames since they originally left the mothers pouch they will feel comfortable falling asleep in your hand by this age. Since your baby sugar gliders are still very small you should think of them as a toddler learning to walk and make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep them from hurting themselves. I suggest moving the sleeping nest closer to the bottom of the cage in case they fall while trying to figure out how to get around.
When the baby sugar gliders have been out of the mother pouch for around a month you will notice the sugar gliders are well formed with the exception to a little fur missing from their tummies. At this stage the sugar gliders will be able to explore their environment on their own and will be tasting new things and biting to try out their new teeth.
After a month and a half out of the mother pouch the sugar gliders will start to show interest in the foods you are feeding the adult sugar gliders in the colony. When your baby sugar gliders start to taste the food you have prepared for the parents it's a good time to introduce them to soft fruits, baby cereal and fruit juice in very small quantities to get them use to solid foods. Think of these foods as a treat and do not give them too much or they could get a stomach ache. Your baby sugar gliders will start to show a lot more personality and interest in everything around them during this time. Make sure you have plenty of toys for them to play with so they can practice their jumping and climbing. You should also make sure to handle them regularly to keep them use to people.
After the sugar glider has been out of the mothers pouch for two months they will stop nursing and begin eating solid foods on their own. The sugar gliders will play eat and go to the bathroom on their own once they are completely weaned. Once the baby sugar glider is completely weaned you will be able to take them away from their mother if you choose to but it is very important to make sure they are completely weaned or they will die. It is better to give them a little more time if you are not sure. If it natural for the sugar gliders to seem a little depressed right after you separate them but with a little attention and affection they will bounce back to their normal playful selves.