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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Sugar gliders are creatures that many, many people can appreciate. If you are lucky and you live in an area where it is legal to own a sugar glider as a pet, then you may even opt to do so.
Do keep in mind that because these are exotic animals, it can be hard to find information on them. This means that you may not be as well-informed on what constitutes normal sugar glider behavior and what is actually problematic.
While the best thing that you can do is make sure to research everything you can on sugar gliders and caring for them, there is always the chance that something goes unlooked. You may not think of it as a potential issue, or it may be something that simply slipped past you.
No matter the cause, if you notice that your sugar glider is doing something that you do not expect, the first thing you should do is research it to make sure that your sugar glider is okay.
A good example of this is looking up why sugar gliders shake. You might be surprised to see your sugar glider shaking shortly after it wakes up and you may be gravely concerned, and for good reason.
Most animals are not supposed to shake, so when you see your beloved glider shaking, it can be startling. The good news is that, to some extent, shaking is completely normal. There is a point, though, where the shaking does become an indication of a problem.
First things first, it is important to understand what the scope of normality is for your sugar glider and any shaking that you might see coming from it. While it can be normal in specific circumstances, there are cases where it can be an indication of sickness in your little glider.
The Normal Shaking
To some degree, it is completely normal to see your sugar glider shake. It all depends on when the sugar glider is shaking and for how long it might be doing this. For sugar gliders, the “normal” degree of shaking is when your sugar glider first wakes up.
It is not entirely known why sugar gliders do this, but it is regarded as a normal and even an expected behavior, so it is not something to worry about when it is confined to just when your sugar glider is waking up.
When your sugar glider first wakes up, it may shiver and shake for a little bit. This shouldn’t last for too long, and it shouldn’t be severe or debilitating enough to cause distress or problems for your sugar glider.
It may not even be enough to be particularly noticeable every time your sugar glider gets up. But if you notice your sugar glider shaking once it wakes up and you are worried, you can rest assured knowing that this is within the range of normalcy for your sugar glider.
Another normal type of shaking is shivering. Most animals will shiver when they are cold, as it is a quick and physiologically easy way for the body to warm itself up. If your home or the sugar glider’s enclosure is a bit colder than the normal temperature, you may find that your sugar glider is shivering to keep itself warm.
After all, sugar gliders do come from a tropical area of the world, so they may shiver in areas of the world that have more frigid winters.
A good way to test if this is the case is to simply hold your sugar glider in blankets. If it begins to stop shaking as it warms up, you can expect to know that your sugar glider is just cold and you can begin to make adjustments to the sugar glider’s enclosure to help it not be as cold.
For a reference, sugar gliders can tolerate temperatures that range between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 32 degrees Celsius), but their preferred range is closer to 80 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 31 degrees Celsius).
As you can tell, a normal house in the winter can easily fall below the sugar glider’s preferred temperatures, meaning that it may be more prone to shivering around this time of year.
The problem occurs when the shaking is either continuous or happening at times other than just after waking up. When this happens, it is often indicative of a nutritional deficiency, which can stem from a poor diet or another underlying health issue.
The Problematic Shaking
If you come to notice that your glider is continuously shaky on its feet, and not just after it wakes up, or if the shakiness never seems to subside, this can be a sign that there is something else going on underneath the surface.
If the shaking is something that caught your eye and it already wasn’t due to waking up, then there’s a good chance that your sugar glider may be experiencing other problems.
The most common reason why sugar gliders shake, not due to waking up, is because of weak limbs. When a sugar glider’s hind limbs are weak, this is often a sign that your sugar glider has a calcium deficiency problem.
This kind of deficiency can range from a number of sources, and you will want to take your sugar glider to a vet to fully verify why your glider might be experiencing problems with calcium.
In some cases, it can be as simple as a poor diet, or something not giving your glider enough of the nutrients it needs. In other, more unfortunate cases, it can be a sign that your glider has a malabsorption problem, or something else in the glider’s body is causing the calcium to not be processed as it should.
Again, there is no use speculating on the specifics if you do not have the knowledge or equipment to check on your own, and this is where going to the vet comes in handy.
If this is the case, you can also start a very minimal and basic treatment for calcium deficiency while you wait for a vet appointment. This treatment given will not be enough to affect the glider if calcium deficiency is not the culprit, so as long as you exercise caution in giving this kind of treatment, you will be able to be safe and you might have a chance of helping your glider out.
It can be as simple as a calcium supplement that is meant for sugar gliders. You may also want to reevaluate the diet your sugar glider is on as well as whether or not your sugar glider is eating all of its food.
These are the most common reasons why your sugar glider might not have the calcium that it needs to keep itself healthy, but you should always confirm with a vet before you make any drastic treatments to your sugar glider’s life and diet.
By making sure that your sugar glider is happy, healthy, and has the diet it needs, you can cut down on the chances that it may shake for health-related reasons. More often than not, your sugar glider will just be shaking when it wakes up in the mornings, or on the coldest days of winter before the heating in your home kicks on.
For the most part, your sugar glider should not shake outside of these circumstances.