Trimming Your Sugar Glider's Nails

A sugar glider’s nails can grow to be long and sharp. Not only can this be painful to you as an owner and leave marks on your body, it can also cause your pet to frequently get stuck on pouches, fleece accessories, ropes, clothing, and more. Getting caught on these objects can be very dangerous if you’re not around. Your sugar glider will twist and yank their limbs until they’re free, possibly injuring themself. This is why trimming your sugar glider’s nails is not a suggestion, but your responsibility as an owner. The Exotic Nutrition Calming Glove is a great tool to use for trimming nails without getting scratched/bit. Pets can become quite frightened when a large unknown object (your hand) is reaching into their territory, but this smooth, soft glove will help calm their fears. They will also be much more comfortable being picked up by a fuzzy cloth rather than grasped in a hand. Sugar Gliders bond with their owners through scent, sound and touch - so handling your pet with this Calming Glove will help enhance that overall experience. Keeping your pet comfortable during the bonding experience is key and will eliminate some of the fear that comes along with being handled.

How To Trim a Sugar Glider's Nails

  • Trimming your sugar glider’s nails is easier with the help of two people, and even magnifying glasses and forehead light for hands-free light.
  • Trim the nails during the day, because this is when sugar gliders tend to be more calm and tired.
  • Let them roam around the cage for 5 minutes after removing their pouch/waking them up, so they can use the bathroom inside the cage, instead of on you.
  • Use a Calming Glove Calming Glove or wrap the sugar glider in a small towel/cloth/pouch, so they feel safe and hidden, let them get comfortable inside and even fall asleep in there.
  • If your sugar glider is struggling and moving, you may need to wrap them in essentially a "fleece burrito", with head covered. Their body needs to be well contained and immobile. Sugar gliders don't understand the idea of containment and sitting still so if you don't keep them in place, they can twist their arm by trying to move away from you and hurt themselves.
  • Give your sugar glider their favorite treat (yogurt drops or mealworms) to keep them preoccupied during the trimming process.
  • Once your sugar glider is calm, slowly/carefully pull out one foot at a time to trim.
  • Press down in the middle of the paw to spread out all the nails. You must keep that paw immobile because you don't want it moving around as you are cutting. 
  • Use a nail clipper designed for pets, not a regular human nail clipper.
  • Trim off only the pointy tip of the nail, avoiding the pink part (the “quick”), which contains the nerve and blood vessels.
  • If you accidentally nip the "quick" of the nail and it begins to bleed, apply a small amount of flour or corn starch to help stop the bleeding.
  • Sometimes a glider will bite, either because they are scared or agitated. While it may be hard to continue the clipping process because you don’t want your sugar glider to hate you, be assured nail trimming is extremely essential and you are doing what’s best for them.
  • Take breaks in between clipping nails if necessary, let your sugar glider get comfortable and tired again.
  • When trimming the nails on the back paws, note that two of the toes are fused together.  These two fused digits are used primarily in grooming and it's recommended that you don’t trim those two claws.  It is OK to trim the remaining three claws on each back paw.
  • Sugar gliders nails grow fast and this method may need to be used every one to two weeks, or as needed.
  • If you aren’t comfortable trimming a sugar glider’s nails yourself, take them to an exotic veterinarian for help. However this can be costly, $30-$80. Getting professional help to trim overgrown nails or trimming for the first time could be necessary though.
  • Clipping often leaves nail a bit ragged and actually more likely to cause scratches than before. You may want to consider using a nail file to smooth them down.

Once the nail is clipped, keep it smooth and filed with...

  • Sandy Tracks for exercise wheels -  Exotic Nutrition's Sandy Trimmer Tracks provide a soft, abrasive running surface for your pet while using their exercise wheel. Simply install the sandy track in place of the regular track, and your pet’s nails will be naturally filed down as they run. Replace the sandy track with the regular track after 2-3 days (or when nails are filed) and repeat weekly. This track is completely safe and will not cause harm or discomfort to your pet if used as instructed.
  • Sandy Strips for exercise wheels - Exotic Nutrition's Sandy Trimmer Strips can be applied to all solid surfaces and acts as a nail trimming device. Natural mineral abrasive strips are safe to use and apply directly to any solid surface exercise wheel or other cage accessory. 
  • Sandy Branches - Exotic Nutrition's Sandy Branches are the perfect way to keep you pet’s nails safely filed down through the soft, sand abrasive material.  Simply install the branch in the cage, and your pet’s nails will be naturally filed down as they play.

Extra Tips

  • Air-dry pouches and fleece accessories instead of using the dryer, it tends to reduce pilling. “Piling” - when knitted fabric forms small balls of fluff on its surface.
  • Wash pouches and fleece accessories more often (on gentle/cold cycle and air drying). The more they're used without cleaning off the urine/food bits, the more they pill.
  • Safe materials are cotton, flannel, and denim.
  • Some owners have recommended using "Bach's Rescue Remedy" to help relieve anxiety and stress. Simply put 3 drops in your sugar glider's water that day to help keep your sugar glider calm during nail trimming.
  • Some people sell a "mesh nest pouch for nail trimming" where your sugar glider lays inside and its nails poke through the mesh. This is not safe, any time you are attempting to cut a sugar glider's nails without having grasp of the paw could lead to cutting the quick or even the toe. 


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Notice: Exotic Nutrition cannot provide specific care guidelines on an individual basis. Please consult a veterinarian.


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