Cage Cleaning


Sugar gliders are messy animals. Their cage will get stinky as urine, feces, food, and marking scents build up over time. There are different approaches to cage cleaning, and these are only suggestions. The best option will be whatever works best for you. However, you shouldn't let a cage go uncleaned for too long, as it's unhealthy for any animal to be tethered to unclean living conditions. In the wild, sugar gliders reside in the tops of trees, so any droppings will fall to the forest floor which is out of the way of where they live. In a cage, the droppings fall to the bottom of the cage, or elsewhere, and that is a completely different situation in terms of sanitation.

Frequency

There are varying opinions on cage cleaning frequency. Sugar gliders are territorial animals and rely on markings and scent to define their territory. In captivity, the enclosure becomes their territory and they will mark by various means.

When a cage is clean of their scent, the gliders will try to mark what may possibly perceive as unmarked or unclaimed territory. Because of this, some owners suggest cleaning the cage in stages, so that small amounts of the gliders scenting remains. This is theorized to subdue the instinct to heavily mark their territory.

One option is to clean only one side of the cage every so often. The frequency of this should be adjusted depending on the personality of the sugar gliders. Neutered males are thought to mark less than unentered males. A cage with only females are considered to mark even less. However, they still deposit waste regardless of gender or neuter status.

Drop Pan Bedding

For indoor enclosures, their may be a pan that can catch waste droppings. Outdoor enclosures, such as those required by Australian Laws, generally don't have a pan on the bottom as the enclosure would have a dirt floor.

There are various types of bedding available for use in the pan to absorb urine and collect droppings and food. The bedding makes cleaning the pan relatively easy, as without any sort of bedding the food and feces will stick to the pan. This makes cleaning it off rather difficult by requiring some scrubbing.

Pine or cedar shavings should be avoided. These types of wood contain phenols (natural oils in the wood that give them their distinctive smell) that can be an irritant and potentially dangerous to the small lungs of sugar gliders. A safe alternative would be Aspen wood shavings.

Another alternative is to use a layer of newspaper in the pan. There are concerns that some types of inks may not be entirely safe. A call to your newspaper can verify if the ink used is safe or not.

There is also the practice of using squares of fleece instead of newspapers. These can be washed and reused.

Cleaning Agents

Often, cleaning agents are toxic, so great care must be taken to protect the sugar gliders.

A common suggestion for cleaning is a water and vinegar solution. Both water and vinegar are non-toxic and if any residue is left on a cage, an accidental ingestion by any sugar gliders will not have any adverse effects.

Some owners use a mixture of water and bleach. The water dilutes the bleach. After cleaning a cage with bleach, the cage should be then rinsed with water to remove excess bleach residue. The cage should be allowed to stand in direct sunlight to decompose any remaining bleach.

WARNING: You should never mix chemicals, such as bleach and vinegar. Toxic fumes are released when mixed.

In terms of toxicity, a water and vinegar solution is prefereable over other types of chemical cleaning.

An alternative is the use of a pressure washer to clean a cage. Obviously, in many of these situations the sugar gliders need to be moved into a temporary enclosure while their primary is being tended to.

See Also

Octagon Cage Cleaning



Last Edited April 23, 2010



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