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Enriching the Life of Your Glider

Sugar Glider with Snuggle HoopSugar Glider inside Jungle TunnelEnrichment - providing stimulating and challenging environments, objects, and activities for animals. Providing an interactive enviroment is as critical to an animal's well-being as having the right food and medical care. Play toys, foraging toys, tunnels, and climbing branches or ropes might not seem very exciting to you and me, but for some animals that's the perfect playground! Providing the right environment for animals is crucial. Animals need opportunities to run, jump, pounce, climb, burrow, dive, hunt for food, and explore. Enrichment keeps animals mentally and physically fit.

Environmental changes are made with the goal of increasing the animal’s behavioral choices and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors, thus enhancing the animal's welfare.

Types of Enrichment

It is important to have knowledge of a species’ natural behaviors and physiology when developing enrichment program. Several categories of enrichment are then used to enhance that species’ behavioral, physical, social, cognitive, and psychological well being. These categories are not mutually exclusive and often overlap, however each, if relevant to the species, should be incorporated into an animal’s enrichment plan.

Sugar Glider with Hanging Jingle BallsEnvironmental Enrichment Devices
Environmental enrichment devices (EEDs) are objects that can be manipulated by the animal. These objects may be novel or pre-existing. Natural EEDs may include foraging treats, large and small branches, eucalyptus sticks, acacia gum or gumivore-fare stuck into creveces, and natural honey or sugar cane sticks, however these items should be kept clean to prevent bacterial growth. Man-made EEDs may include premade items such as interactive toys, swings, pouches, and exercise wheels.

Habitat Enrichment
Habitat design is an important consideration for providing enrichment. Habitats should provide a variety of substrates, levels, and complexities. Considerations should be given to useable space versus total space, and ease of reaching or changing platforms, tiers, ropes, nesting/denning areas, feed/water dispensers, and crevices/crannies for EED/enrichment food hiding.

Sugar Glider with Coconut CupSensory Enrichment
Animal sensory systems are typically specialized by species and play crucial roles in their survival. Sensory enrichment is designed to address the animal’s sense of smell, touch, hearing, vision, and taste and elicit species-specific response, territorial, reproductive or hunting behaviors. Olfactory stimuli may include natural predator, pheromone, or prey scents or novel scents such as 

spices or perfumes. Tactile stimuli may include a variety of EEDs that can be manipulated including materials of different textures such as straw, soft blankets, paper, burlap, cardboard, or wood. Auditory stimuli may include the presentation of natural sounds or animal vocalizations recordings. Visual stimuli may include EEDs of different colors, those that move by wind or water current, animals in the line of sight from other habitats, video presentations, or mirrors. Gustatory stimuli include food enrichment items, flavored sprays, or beverages.


Sugar Glider on Rock & Roller SwingFood Enrichment

Food can be presented in a variety of ways elicit feeding, hunting, foraging behaviors, problem-solving strategies, and to facilitate behavioral conditioning. Food may be fresh, frozen, soft, hard, smooth, rough, heavy, light, cold, or and may be incorporated into drawers, barrels, globes, dispensers in order to hide them around the habitat.

Social Groupings
Social groupings should resemble those observed in the wild to facilitate feeding, grooming, social, territorial, and courtship behaviors. Mixed species exhibits may also provide symbiotic or complementary activities between the species.

Enrichment Schedule
Enrichment devices should be presented on a varied schedule and in a variety of contexts to make sure the animals do not become desensitized or habituated to them. When a speicifc enrichment toy is introduced into a habitat you should make note of the duration you keep it in the habitat and the location so the environment does not become repetitive. Randomize the presentation of the cage week to week. Also keep note of the animal’s responses to the enrichment to ensure that safety continues to be a priority and that the animals are still stimulated by it.

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Looking for more information on Sugar Gliders? Browse our archive of articles:

<< Back to Sugar Glider Education or Shop Sugar Glider Products

Adding Another Glider to Your Household
Are Gliders Legal in My State?
Bonding With Your Sugar Glider
Cage Finishes
Common Nutritional Problems of Sugar Gliders
Dirty Secrets About Gliders' Food
Enriching Gliders' Lives
Exotic Nutrition Foods for Sugar Gliders
Feeding Baby Gliders
Feeding Mealworms to Gliders
Glider Health Issues
Healthy Treats and Chews
HPW (High Protein) Diet for Sugar Gliders
Introducing New Foods to Gliders
Odor Control
Proper Feeding of Gliders
Recommendations for Sugar Glider Foods & Basic Feeding Guide
Sugar Glider FAQs
Suggested Cage Requirements
Tips on Breeding Gliders
Trimming Your Sugar Glider's Nails
Veterinarian Database
Veterinarian's Opinion on a Sugar Glider's Diet
What to Feed Adult Sugar Gliders
Where Can I Get a Glider?
Why Toys are Important for Gliders
What Exactly Are Booster Multivitamins?

More Questions?

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Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not in a position to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please visit our animal info tabs or consider purchasing a care guide book for additional information. If you have a health or pet emergency issue, please notify your veterinarian or a specialized technician.

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