The Importance of Wellness Exams
Sugar gliders should have their first wellness exam done within the first two weeks of bringing your glider home. After the initial exam, sugar gliders should have a wellness exam at least once a year. The initial exam allows your veterinarian to meet your glider and familiarize him/herself with your glider. This initial exam will be the beginning of the important relationship between you, your glider and your vet. It will also serve to ensure you of your glider's good health and will help to detect any underlying disorders that would be otherwise indiscernible until reaching a critical state.
During this exam, your vet will check your glider's weight and physically examine your glider's eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet, cloaca, tail and overall coat condition. They will also palpate your glider's abdomen to make sure that your glider is healthy internally and they will listen to your glider's heart and lungs with a stethoscope. In addition to these routine checks, the vet will obtain a fecal sample and run an intestinal parasite screen. You should also ask the vet to run a urinalysis to ensure that the glider does not have a bacterial infection. Sugar gliders do not need any type of immunizations the way that cats and dogs do. Your vet may also, but not necessarily, show you how to trim your glider's nails - you can always ask about this if they don't volunteer the information, although there may be an extra fee involved.
Please note that a sugar glider's incisors (bottom, front teeth) do not continually grow throughout their lifetime the way that a rodent's upper incisors do. Therefore, under no circumstances, should your vet trim (or "float") your glider's teeth. This practice is inhumane and can cause extreme difficulties and health problems as your glider gets older.
Jen Bailey - a longtime owner of sugar gliders with considerable experience -had the following to say about this practice, "Some vets without experience with marsupials see the big, black eyes, and bare ears, and body conformation, and 'assume' that they must be like a rodent with bottom incisors that grow...and that just isn't the case. A glider's long bottom teeth are there because, UNLIKE a rodent, they have to get thru the bark of a tree regularly in order to eat, and they are solid and strong to accommodate that. A rodent may chew (in order to build nests, etc) but eats mostly grasses and grains in the wild. There is a biological, habitat related reason they are so different, and require different care.
Like with people, however, vets can be just as guilty of judging an animal by appearance...and in the case of gliders, they are the ones who lose. In all fairness, when I very first started, I may have believed a vet if they told me that, thinking that they knew more than I. Much more with exotic pets (than domestic pets or human doctors - and there are some bad people docs in the world, too), you really need to know your stuff so you know if you're told something like that to say, 'Hey, that's not right'. And if a vet still insists they know what they're talking about and you don't (especially with no better reasoning given than 'I'm a professional and you're not') you know to go and find one that really DOES know what they're talking about." So, if your vet recommends this procedure, you may want to find a different vet whose knowledge is current with today's practices.