The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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While researching sugar gliders, you have probably read some interesting facts. Some facts are fascinating, while others are disturbing. Amongst these facts, you may have seen that sugar gliders sometimes practice cannibalism.
Does this apply to their babies as well? Do sugar gliders eat their babies?
Unfortunately, in some cases, a sugar glider will eat her babies if she is ill, stressed, or doesn’t wish to raise them. Male sugar gliders rarely eat their young and shouldn’t be removed from the cage once the babies are born. There are ways to help the mother to prevent her from eating the babies.
Although cannibalism doesn’t often occur among sugar gliders, there are reported cases. In addition, female sugar gliders will eat their babies under certain circumstances.
In this article, we will investigate possible reasons for a female sugar glider eating her young and make some suggestions for preventing it.
Why Do Sugar Gliders Eat Their Babies?
One interesting fact about sugar gliders is that the female has two uteri and two vaginas. This means that a sugar glider female will have twins in most cases. Sugar gliders may also only have one offspring but will never deliver more than two babies at once.
The gestational period for sugar glider babies is only 16 or 17 days. Therefore, the mother can have multiple babies in a year.
The sugar glider babies, known as joeys, spend their first 100 days in their mother’s pouch, where they are nursed and protected. The joeys are completely weaned one month after leaving their pouch, at which time the sugar glider female can have new offspring.
However, under certain circumstances, a sugar glider female will kill and eat the joeys shortly after birth. While this isn’t entirely natural behavior for sugar gliders, it isn’t unheard of.
There are a few causes for a female sugar glider killing her joeys, and they usually have to do with her health and well-being. Here are the most common reasons why sugar gliders will kill their young.
1 – The Joeys Are Sick
If the joeys are sick or have physical ailments, the female sugar glider will likely kill them. This is an event that often happens in nature.
Because the animals cannot care for disabled babies, and the babies have no way of surviving on their own, the parents often kill or abandon these babies.
If your female sugar glider ate only one of the joeys, there was likely something wrong with the joey, and she couldn’t care for it. However, if she ate both joeys or joeys from more than one litter, there may be another reason why she ate them.
2 – The Female Sugar Glider Is Stressed
Another reason the sugar glider will kill and eat the joeys is if she is experiencing a lot of stress and cannot raise the joeys. This stress is often due to external factors, such as improper feeding and malnutrition, other pets causing the sugar glider to stress, or unsuitable temperatures.
You can tell that your female sugar glider is stressed if it exhibits some of the following symptoms:
- Constant eating or barely eating
- Excessive water drinking
- Grabbing onto the bars of her habitat
- Aggression towards you or other sugar gliders
If your sugar glider is experiencing these symptoms, she may be stressed. First, assess her habitat and feeding patterns. If you cannot find anything amiss, you may need to take her to a vet because she might be ill or lack certain nutrients.
3 – The Female Sugar Glider Is Sick
In addition to being stressed, the sugar glider might also eat her joeys if she is sick and cannot care for them. Because the joeys have no way of surviving if she dies, the sugar glider will choose self-preservation and kill the joeys to better her chances of survival.
This occurs naturally among many animals and is one of the leading causes of parents killing their offspring.
4 – The Sugar Glider Doesn’t Want Joeys
Sometimes, a female sugar glider doesn’t want joeys. While we don’t know why this happens, we know that it does happen.
The sugar glider will likely kill and eat all the joeys if this is the case. She won’t be selective about which ones she kills and won’t attempt to raise them.
In this case, there isn’t anything you can do to prevent her from eating the babies other than preventing her from getting pregnant.
These are the leading causes for female sugar gliders eating their young. However, you may now be wondering what you can do to prevent them from eating their joeys.
The section will discuss how to prevent female sugar gliders from eating their babies.
How to Prevent Sugar Gliders trom Eating Their Babies
Because the female sugar glider eats the joeys, we will focus on her health and well-being. A happy and healthy sugar glider will not eat her joeys in most cases.
However, in the issues discussed above, the sugar glider isn’t healthy, and this causes her to eat the babies.
If the joeys are injured or disabled, there isn’t much you can do to prevent the female from eating them. This is a part of her natural instincts, and she will eat the joeys to ensure the survival of her species. If you notice one of the joeys is injured, you can try to take it to the vet.
However, if the joeys are still in the pouch, they are latched onto the female’s nipple. Therefore, removing them will cause serious harm to the female and joey alike.
Most often, you won’t notice something wrong with the joeys because they are so tiny. Therefore, there isn’t much you can do in this case.
If the female sugar glider is stressed, you can try to limit the stressors in her environment. Ensure her habitat is clean and sufficient stimulation and space for her.
She should also have a suspended box to sleep in and hide. Don’t remove the male sugar glider. He will help to care for the joeys and gives her some company.
If you notice your sugar glider acting out of sorts and you cannot determine the reason, take her to a veterinarian with experience with sugar gliders to have her checked.
Sugar gliders can quickly die from illnesses and are susceptible to obesity, arthritis, parasites, and other diseases. Therefore, the female sugar glider may be sick. If she is treated for her illness, she is less likely to eat the joeys.
Finally, suppose you have eliminated all other causes, and your sugar glider still eats her joeys. In that case, it might be because she simply doesn’t want joeys. Your only option is to neuter the male sugar gliders to prevent the female from getting pregnant.
Female sugar gliders eat their babies if they are sick, stressed, or if there is something wrong with the joeys. In addition, sugar gliders will eat the babies if they don’t want to raise them. Fortunately, you can solve the problem and prevent the sugar glider from eating her babies in most instances.
However, if she constantly eats the babies, it is a sign that she doesn’t want to have joeys, and there is nothing you can do about this other than neutering the males.
Fortunately, sugar gliders eating their babies isn’t overly common. Therefore, there is a good chance your sugar glider will do a great job raising her joeys.