Hypothyroidism in Sugar Gliders

On September 21, 2007 my glider Mareki was officially diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Mareki was the second glider ever diagnosed with this health issue. The first glider was diagnosed that summer. Mareki had issues with obesity her entire adult life, at one time soaring to 202 grams in spite of regulated diet, exercise and environmental stimulation.

Symptoms:

These symptoms were present in both Mareki and Riker's cases.
  • obesity in spite of regulated diet
  • obesity in spite of regular exercise
  • obesity in spite of environmental stimulation
  • dry, flaky skin on ears and lower back
  • thickened, discolored nails
  • overgrooming
  • self mutilation

Diagnosis:

Hypothyroidism can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. A thorough exam, including information about the glider's history is the first step. Once symptoms have been evaluated, if hypothyroidism is suspected, then blood will be drawn for testing. The sugar glider will need to be anesthetized briefly to draw enough blood for both a CBC blood panel and for T3 thyroid levels. Unfortunately, the normal range for T3 in gliders is unknown. However, if the T3 level is extremely low, as it was in Mareki's case, then a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made.

Treatment:

Treatment includes thyroid hormone replacement therapy and will need to be administered daily for the rest of the glider's life. More specific information can be obtained by having your veterinarian consult with either:

  • Dr. Kristen West at 440-516-0000, or
  • Dr. Laurel Harris at 801-943-3367

Site most recently updated in April, 2021