Just like the title of my article, should we neuter our male sugar gliders? The answer would be yes if you are just keeping them as pets. Some may say it is cruel coz we are stripping away their sex life but remember, only humans, dolphins and bonobos mate for fun and reproduction. If you are not gonna be a hobbyist breeder, then best is to neuter your male.
- You won’t need to worry about unexpected offspring.
- You won’t need to crank your head with additional cages or new homes for joeys.
- Your male will not smell as bad as before and will most likely stop or mark less. Less active hormones.
- It reduces the risk of getting testicular cancer.
- Your male can become sweeter with other gliders. Their territorial instinct can reduce but this depends on the glider itself as some may just be a tad territorial by nature. Just like humans, some of us can be moody.
What is the best age?
Well, the best time to neuter a glider is when it is around 5 months of age. This is when the male joey has reached maturity, he would start to show his bald spot and develop a musky scent. Normally joeys can be neutered at 4 months old because his testicles would have fully dropped into his scrotum but best is to wait till they are 5 to 6 months, just so that your glider is strong enough to handle the surgery. Never neuter too early because it would mean a riskier surgery since the testicles won’t be fully out, the vet may need to make a deeper incision during the surgery just to get to the testicles.
How is the procedure?
There are a few ways to neuter but it all involves cutting off the balls. LOL, removing the testicles. I have heard of males “neutered” naturally. How? Either some string got tied around their scrotum or the glider chews it off. Those are risky. In fact, some vets may even suggest that you use a string to tie the scrotum to cut the blood supply and let it drop off. Er…. I won’t use this method coz it can be risky, with bacterial infections coming in later.
Anyway, like I said, there are several ways, and I’ll highlight them.
Removing the testicle and scrotum
This method has disadvantages and advantages. The advantage is that it further reduces the hormone levels, making your glider less likely to try and mate or mark. The bad thing is that since removing the scrotum means cutting it off, the hole left by the removal would be bigger, so there would be more stitches needed and some skin pulling. Often gliders would feel an amount of pain and may chew on the wound, leading to self mutilating. So if this is done, a glider should be on an E-Collar (DIY stuff) and on some pain medication. You should monitor your glider closely for 48 hours.
Removing just the testicles
According to Dr Jenny from Hands and Paws clinic in Malaysia, this is the ideal way. Less pain, less stress. The method involves making a small incision, cut off the testicles and stitch back the incision, leaving the scrotum. Your glider would heal faster too but still, you need to monitor your glider closely for the next 48 hours. There would obviously be pain but the healing of this kind of procedure is faster and safer. But because the scrotum is left there, the male hormones would still be around and would take some time to decrease. So you will still see your male musk here and there a bit but with time, his rowdy behaviour would lessen.
Also, the best anesthesia to use would be the gas kind. The local anesthesic and general anesthetic injections are quite risky if the vet is not experienced coz an overdose could kill a glider. And symptoms like vomiting, sudden aggression and drowsiness occur with the injection type. The gas anesthesia doesn’t take a toll on the body, your glider would have a faster recovery with just a bit of giddiness. Still, always take precaution and prepare for the worst with any kind of surgery. Sugar gliders do not tolerate pain very well and may try and chew themselves to get rid of the source of their pain. So plan properly, maybe get an offday from work to monitor your glider after the surgery.
Here is my friend’s picture of her glider after he got neutered. Still passed out from the anesthetic. He was Dr Jenny’s 1st glider to neuter.
Then these are the testicles.