Three Things Sugar Glider Owners Need To Know About Toxoplasmosis

Posted on: 28 June 2016

Sugar gliders are popular pets, but these exotic animals can suffer from a variety of health problems, just like more traditional pets can. Your sugar glider may develop toxoplasmosis, a serious parasitic disease. Here are three things sugar glider owners need to know about toxoplasmosis.

How do sugar gliders get toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoan that's found throughout the world. Cats are the natural host of T. gondii. The parasites form cysts within an infected cat's small intestine, and these cysts are then released in the cat's feces. This feces can then contaminate a variety of environments with T. gondii.

If you have a pet cat, your sugar glider could get toxoplasmosis from exposure to the litter box. Make sure that your sugar glider's cage isn't near the litter box, and after cleaning the litter box, remember to wash your hands before caring for your sugar glider.

The foods you feed your sugar glider could also be contaminated with T. gondii, even if you don't have a cat. Animals like cattle can become infected with the parasite, and if your sugar glider eats undercooked meat, the parasites could be passed onto them. Fruits and vegetables may also become contaminated with cat feces, so if your sugar glider eats unwashed produce, they could become infected.

What are the signs of toxoplasmosis?

If your sugar glider develops toxoplasmosis, you may notice that their body feels colder than normal. They may also have decreased energy, and you may see them lying on their pet bed instead of climbing their cage bars. They may also stop eating and lose weight; diarrhea can also occur. In severe cases, toxoplasmosis can lead to tremors, difficulty breathing or even sudden death. Contact an emergency vet as soon as you notice issues with your pet. 

How do vets treat toxoplasmosis?

Medications are available to treat toxoplasmosis in traditional pets like cats and dogs, and your veterinarian may try these medications for your sugar glider. Since sugar gliders are so small, they may need to adjust the dosage. These medications include antibiotics such as clindamycin hydrochloride.

It's important to remember that people can also get toxoplasmosis, so take extreme caution when caring for your sick pet, especially if you're pregnant or immunocompromised. Wear a mask and gloves when you're around your pet, and afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly.

If you think your pet sugar glider has toxoplasmosis, take them to an exotics vet right away for treatment.