Setting Up a Hospital Cage
Unfortunately, there are times when separating your glider from its cage mates and isolation in a hospital cage becomes necessary. This may be for something as simple as the initial 24 hour separation post-neuter, or it may be a more prolonged need, such as after a Dominance Wound has been incurred - which can lead to a separation of two to three months.
The hospital cage concept is very simple - it should be a smaller cage that allows the injured or ill glider easy access to its food, water and pouch. To that end, there are several options: a small, wire cage; a small 38 gallon reptarium; or, a small 65 gallon reptarium. If your glider is in an e-collar then the small, wire cage or the 38 gallon reptarium is optimal. If your glider does not have to be in an e-collar but needs to be confined and separated from its cage mates for a prolonged period of time, then the 65 gallon reptarium is ideal. Please note that reptariums should not be used for gliders that are known to be chewers.
If your glider is in an e-collar, special adaptations to the cage set up will become necessary. Trough-style bird feeders work well for foods that are pureed and watered-down 50% with water. In a reptarium, you can easily make a holder for the feeders using vinyl-covered hardware cloth that has 1/2" mesh (as shown above). Because the feeders will be subject to some movement, shallow bowls placed underneath the feeders will catch any drips that may occur. These bowls also give your glider a perch to hold onto. Note that the nozzle of the feeder (and water bottle) should be no more than 3" above the level the glider will be standing at.
E-collars can pose a challenge to the glider when it tries to get into its pouch. One simple solution is to hang a large pouch in a corner and use a plastic clothespin to hold open the top of the pouch in a triangle (shown above).
Gliders in an e-collar will have difficulty learning to walk with the bulk of the e-collar on. Therefore, if in a wire hospital cage, it is a good idea to place a large Shelf Hammock in the cage about halfway up to act as a safety net (shown above).
If your glider is going to be in the hospital cage for a prolonged period, a Small Wheel is excellent for allowing them to get the exercise they need without taking up a large amount of space in a limited area.
Cages for Special Needs Gliders
Sometimes it is necessary to set up a cage to accommodate the special needs of a glider with long-term issues. The cage shown above was set up for my Pika, who was blind due to cataracts. The Shelf Hammocks were placed as safety nets so that if she fell while moving throughout the cage, she would have a soft landing. For blind gliders, it is important to try to keep the cage set up in the same arrangement at all times. It is very confusing to a blind glider to have to figure out where to find its food, water bottle, pouch, etc. if the cage arrangement is changed.
If mobility is an issue, then placing the pouch low in the cage with a Shelf Hammock placed about 3" above the cage floor as a safety net works very well (shown above).
Middle Ear Infections or Neurological Damage can make it very difficult for a glider to maneuver. By tipping the food bowls onto their sides at a slight angle, it will be easier for the glider to get to its food (shown above). Note that there is water in one of the bowls to make drinking easier, as well.
When Cricky experienced Neurological Damage, he could only run in circles, making mobility in the cage very difficult. Large Shelf Hammocks that spanned the entire cage made maneuverability a bit easier for him, in addition to acting as a safety net if he fell while trying to negotiate the sides or top of the cage.
If your glider has special needs, think outside the box of the standard cage set up you are used to using. Think of the glider's ability to move and make accommodations accordingly.