Calcium deficiency is, unfortunately, a common problem when it comes to Sugar Gliders. Common names include HLP (hind leg paralysis), NSHP (nutritional secondary hyperparathroidism) or MBD (metabolic bone disease). All of these are mostly a result of an improper diet. The diet may have too little calcium, an improper balance between phosphorus and calcium, a lack of vitamins, or a combination of issues.
Lack of calcium (or high phosphorus with low calcium) will lead to brittle bones, paralysis and even kidney problems. Sugar Gliders are prey animals which means they will tend to hide an illness until it's too late. Common stories of HLP mention that the Sugar Glider seemed perfectly fine until he's suddenly at the bottom of the cage unable to move. You may sometimes notice the Sugar Glider dragging one foot or struggling to get around the cage. Other possible signs of calcium deficiency is a Sugar Glider being underweight or gliders that look small for their age.
If your exotic veterinarian diagnoses HLP, you will have a "special needs glider" that requires extra care and love from you. This means having a horizontal cage instead of a vertical cage, toys closer to the ground, and even a blanket at the bottom of the cage. Your glider may never be able to climb normally, and may not be able to groom itself normally. A sugar glider's mate should help with most of the grooming, but you'll still need to check for hard to reach areas and assist.
Treatment is possible if caught in time! If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your exotic animal vet immediately and switch to a more balanced diet. Click here to check out The Pet Glider's Complete Diet
- Trembling or shaking (on a consistent basis, not just when scared)
- Any trouble climbing in the cage or hanging on to a perch
- Weakness in their hind legs
Left untreated, calcium deficiency will cause the system to completely shut down. The Pet Glider cannot stress enough how important our vitamins are to the health of your sugar gliders! Our vitamins are designed specifically for Sugar Gliders to maintain proper nutrients, improve their health, and build their immune system. TPG's Multivitamins are the only human grade vitamin supplement on the market for Sugar Gliders!