Self-mutilation is common in pet birds like and cockatoos, as well as cats, dogs, and even humans—and sugar gliders are no exception. There are a variety of causes for self-inflicted harm to begin in certain species, but in sugar gliders, it is virtually always due to one reason.
What Is Self-Mutilation in Sugar Gliders?
Sugar gliders groom their silky fur on a regular basis, but you'll notice if this usual brushing becomes extreme over-grooming. You could see bald spots on your glider, tufts of hair in the cage, and eventually chewing of different body parts, including as their own tail, feet, hands, arms, and even genitalia. These self-inflicted wounds may leave blood on the cage bars, on your sugar glider, or on their favorite hammock. Male sugar gliders who have been gnawing on their damaged penis may also leave it exposed.
What Causes Self-Mutilation in Sugar Gliders?
Stress is the leading cause of self-mutilation in birds and sugar gliders. We all know what stress is since we all deal with it on a daily basis in various forms. We become agitated at work, with our families, in traffic, and when doing schoolwork. When stress gets too much for us to bear, we turn to relaxation practices like yoga or meditation, take a vacation, work on a hobby, read a book, drink a favorite beverage, or do anything else we like. Sugar gliders lack the same stress-relieving capabilities as humans. As a result, people frequently choose self-mutilation to release their tension. Self-mutilation is regarded to be a means for humans to express themselves without words or take control of their bodies when they don't have control elsewhere in their life, according to Mental Health America. Sugar gliders may experience similar feelings if they are subjected to excessive stress in their everyday life.
What Stresses Out Sugar Gliders?
Sugar gliders are supposed to live in colonies with one male, one female, and their progeny (joeys) from the previous and current year. Multiple gliders are frequently housed in huge cages in captivity, and we "push" them to get along by denying them any other option in a household. These gliders will be stressed if they don't like each other or feel threatened (several adult males living together is one example of a perceived threat). Small enclosures, noisy habitats, poor air quality (owners who smoke indoors), sexual dissatisfaction, and imagined predators in their environment, such as a dog or cat, are all causes of stress in sugar gliders.
Can Your Sugar Glider Hurt Themselves While Self-Mutilating?
Yes. Your glider may progress from pulling hair to injuring oneself. To avoid infection and get safe pain management, your exotics vet will need to treat these wounds. Amputations of toes, tails, and male genitalia are often required due to severe wounds. To avoid your sugar glider from injuring themselves further, Elizabethan collars (e-collars) may be prescribed. Depending on the severity of the wounds, antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, hydration therapy, and other medical assistance may be required. Behavioral-modifying medications may be employed in some cases. If your sugar glider is displaying indications of excessive grooming, undertake a daily visual examination to ensure you aren't missing any wounds they may have produced.
Can You Stop Your Sugar Glider From Self-Mutilating?
The greatest technique to stop self-mutilation is to remove the source of stress. Acquiring a larger cage, separating separate sugar gliders, relocating the cage to a spot where the dogs and cats can't get to or see it, or even getting your sugar glider a mate are all options. Every glider has its unique set of stresses, and it may take some detective work to figure out what is causing yours to get stressed. Regular playtimes, new toys, and enrichment activities like hiding food to make your glider struggle to locate their meals can all help to distract them from whatever is bothering them.