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Your resource for safety first, expert
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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Hi Gang! Lisa here, and welcome to our November issue of the GliderVet Newsletter.
Wow, we have a lot of stuff we want to cover this month. We had a record number of comments and
questions in response to the October newsletter. Bonding is such a major topic of discussion,
and as promised we will be bringing you another month of bonding
information. I expect we will continue this series for several more months to come .... After all, that is what you are
asking for and that is what you will get! Let's face it ... those of us who are
willing to take the time it takes to bond well with our fuzzy butts and take the time to keep that relationship
building are the humans who will maximize our enjoyment of sugar glider stewardship.
While most of the mail we received this month were questions and stories related to the bonding
issue, we also received a significant amount of correspondence on our comments regarding the use
of heat rocks in glider cages. As the winter months approach, it is important that you make the
appropriate provisions to keep your glider warm and cozy. If you missed last month's newsletter
discussing the dangers of using heat rocks in the glider's habitat, please click
here. But to quickly recap last month's comments, we recommended the use of ceramic heat
lamps - sometimes called "emitters" - they do
not blow air like space heaters do (sugar gliders don't like drafts or air blowing in their
direction) and humidifiers.
Quite a lot of people either had difficulty locating ceramic heat lamps in their pet stores or
were not sure exactly what the product was. So we went out and purchased
some of these
devices with a few accessories. If you still need one, get the full details on the
product and take advantage of a super package deal price by clicking
here. By the way, if you haven't checked out our store recently, we've overhauled our
shopping cart and while the store pretty much looks the same, our new cart system can now remember your name
and shipping info and provides more shipping options. Our order processing is
now super duper fast - and you can even use your "back" button in the
shopping cart now!
We've also received e-mails from several people who have attempted to use the Reptarium as a
permanent sugar glider home! Here's a brief comment from Russ. His comments were typical of
the feedback we received: "I am getting the (new) cage because although the
Reptarium is GREAT, there are some problems ... as you have pointed out. The gliders can chew through it, and in fact, the
fabric after time, absorbs more and more of the odor." Bottom line is that our recommendation remains that the
Reptarium is quite useful as a temporary cage or a travel cage, but please reconsider its use as a permanent habitat.
Whew! Now that we've looked back a bit at last month, let's look forward to what this month's
newsletter brings! Once again, our most qualified question answerer, Mr. Arnold T.
Shwarzenglider, will respond to this month's FAQ (Frequently Asked Question).
And as you know, Arnold can't really type, so I have the honor of helping out Arnold this month, which is usually
Debbie's privilege. But Debbie and Dr. C have put together a new series for your enjoyment and
education on breeding. Dr. C can certainly tell us the important health, habitat and nutrition
issues that we should consider when breeding and raising sugar gliders. Dr. C also felt it was
important to include practical knowledge that she believes only a good breeder can provide via
experiences and insight.
I just want to remind everybody that this newsletter is intended to express the wishes of the
whole sugar glider community. We thank everyone who has taken the time to write us with so
many great ideas for future topics of discussion. In time, we hope to address
each and every one. Sugar gliders are increasing in popularity at a rather rapid rate.
Those of us who keep gliders already know that our critters are not really hard animals to keep, but they are quite
demanding. Sugar gliders are by no means the right pet for every household.
As a community, I hope that we can continue to grow a solid body of information that can be accessed by anyone
interested in learning more about our fine furry'ed friends. Please continue to submit your
stories of interest, your burning questions, your funny sugar glider tails (I mean tales) or
anything else that you believe will further the education and enjoyment of keeping sugar
gliders as pets. Send your comments here.
If you ever want to find earlier issues of GliderVet News, you can access our archives
here. Fun pics of
sugar gliders sent in by our customers are found here.
If you are looking for sugar glider tested and approved products,
check out our ever expanding store here.
Are you new to sugar gliders or just in the early stages of trying to decide if one is right for you?
Questions you can ask yourself to help make this very important and long term
decision are here. A very confusing
area for those considering glider ownership (and for
some current owners too!) is diet. See what our vet has to say here.
And if you decide that a sugar glider (or two!) would become future members of your household, then you might want to check out Arnold's great
deals on starter kits, with or without cages.
Are you looking for other sources of great sugar glider information? You may want to check
out the Glider Central message board here!
Frequently Asked Question:
Do leashes / harnesses work well for sugar gliders?
By Arnold (with a little help from Lisa)
"Back at ya Lisee! I wishes Deb was here right now, but I'm glad to have you on board in her
place. I know she has important stuff to do with Dr. C."
"Hey Arn ... I have a funny for you.
Arn ya gonna tell more jokes this month?
Yuk yuk yuk ... hehehehe.
Well, if you insist ... what does an old glider use to help get around?
I dunno, Arnold, what?
A Sugar Cane!
Hee hee hee .. ha ha ha ... Bark bark!
"Arnold ... Lisa ... It's Debbie here. Now I can't keep my eyes on you two all the time.
Please get to the question! This is a serious and important question and people don't have
Hmmmm, uh huh ... ok ... me guess you're right. This really is very important.
But ya know, I really would rather be silly, have fun and tell jokes than have to talk about stuff that can
be harmful to me fellow glider mates. But the fact is, sometimes the big humans will
buy stuff for their suggies and think it's a good thing, without realizin' that the thing they bought is
really a bad thing.
Now let me 'splain here a bit. Leashes and harnesses are used for lots and lots of different
pets and some pets actually even like to have them cause it makes 'em feel safe and secure.
Some pets even need to have them cause they are pets that learn to do something called O Bay ...
Now sugar gliders don't know nuthin' about this O Bay bizness ... O Bay don't you see .. it's a
game not for me ... hmmm, I think there's a song in here somewhere ... But anywho, sugar
meisters hate, I mean loathe, I mean deplore, and otherwise generally dislike anything that
is restrictive on the body. If you are into being squeezed tightly, then fine .. get
yourself one of them big snakes ... I think they called boa constrictors ... and let that bad boy wrap itself
tightly around your body, and see how you like it ... Me guesses that most of ya would not like it a lot!
So why do you want to wrap up your suggie in a tight little harness thingy?
I promise, most of us won't like it at all.
Now the first question me asks me self is why would a human want to do that to their friend?
Have you ever actually seen these contraptions? It's really nothing more than some heavy string
stuff that wraps around a suggie's body. Well me and my Lisa have discussed this and Lisa told
me that people want them so their sugar gliders don't run away. Well, if you know stuff about
us glider's then you know that we really like to stay with our human when our human
is nice and kind to us and we gets real bonded.
But if you as a human don't trust us to be good little suggies and stay near our tree (that's
what we call you humans), then by all means get a zippered bonding
pouch. During the day, we are quite happy to stay in the nice dark, warm and
cozy pouch and snooze. During the day we don't like to be out exposed in the light.
So what's the point of this harness leash thing? You want to wrap our body in this uncomfortable
contraption and then have us sit on your shoulder looking all cute and such, while we are
miserable and in the light? Yeah, that sounds like fun. Sign me up!
NOT! I promise, we will be much happier and much safer in a pouch!
Now as you know we don't just have unfounded opinion 'round these parts.
We would never express an opinion good or bad without checking this stuff out first.
So Lisa, much to my displeasure, got some of the leash things, and she actually tried to put that bad idea
on ME ... ME, of all gliders! I was shocked and upset. I wriggled around so much ... I was bound and determined
not to be bound! Ya know I'm a pretty cooperative little feller when it comes to my Lisa, but
I said No Way Jose'! I'd let her give me a bath before I'd wear that silly thing. Then I start
hearing these horror stories about people that made their gliders wear the leash, and guess
what... The gliders got so upset that when they made the fight against this contraption,
it actually tore their patagium (that's a fancy word for our wings ...) OUCH!
I can't even imagine how much that would hurt.
Then another time, we let a friend of ours take a leash home to try on her suggies, this was
before Lisa learned the right lesson. Our friend tried to use the leash on her glider Laki ...
Laki just sat on her shoulder, which he did by himself anyway, and without her knowing it,
he just chewed right through that sucker and Laki's human didn't even know it right away.
So much for security ... Laki could've have jumped off and run away at any time if he wanted to ... but
ya see, he didn't want to. Laki's human got him a zippered bonding pouch soon after and now
both Laki and Laki's human feel much more secure about things.
Just cause us gliders have hearts like your friend the dog, don't think we want to be treated
like a dog. After all, does your dog sit on your shoulder or in your pocket when you go out
and about? Would you expect your suggie to walk on the ground right next to your side?
Geez, most humans I know don't hardly even let their suggies feet hit the ground at all ... When you
are as cute, cuddly and adorable as me, then you should carry me and pamper me in ways that
make me feel good. What's so hard about that?
It really just gets me last nerve sometimes when people out there just try to sell stuff to
other peoples with little regard on whether or not its safe for us critters.
If you are ever in doubt about a thing, just write to us and/or check out Glider Central where lots of people
are always available to share an honest opinion. All I ask is that you at least ask someone
who knows us suggies well ... maybe your pet shop operator knows us well and maybe they don't
... if you are not sure, then go to a source that you can be sure with. We needs ya to
look out for us cause we can't read the packaging by ourselves!
Now before me signs off, I have a question for you. When humans go to sleep its called nighty
night ... do gliders go dayty day? Sometimes I have a bit of trouble with the English language
cause ya see we're originally from Australia where they only speak Australian ... Yuk yuk yuk
Glide high and land softly!
Lisa here: Arnold wants your help! Coming soon we will make available a new
web page describing products and food commonly used for sugar gliders but proven
to be unsafe. The driving force behind this page will be a consensus opinion reflective of the beliefs of the
glider community as a whole. Those of us who have been involved with sugar gliders for
awhile and are actively involved in the community are aware of only what some of these products are!
We want your product reviews and comments on popular items used for sugar gliders that have proven
to be ultimate health hazards.
Pet shops and others will often promote products merely to create another sale with
little regard to the well being of the glider. However, we believe this is more due to
lack of understanding and not a malicious intent on anyone's part to deceive.
It is simply our intent to educate. Submissions will be reviewed by an independent committee sponsored
by SunCoast (including Dr. C. by the way). We will procure questionable products and inspect
them to ensure these reviews are indicative of true health hazards and not merely
the subject of isolated incidents that may have been experienced by just a few
individuals under unique circumstances.
We welcome comments on products made for sugar gliders, products made for other pets but
commonly used for sugar gliders, and commonly used food items. We are often asked questions
like "what should I avoid feeding my sugar glider?" Please help Arnold create a
cool new page that could help promote higher levels of safety and health for all his friends.
One issue we'd like your input on is baby meat sticks - have you used
them? Can you think of others? Comments that we will not address are injuries related to normal wear and tear of otherwise
good products. It's up to us humans to inspect and ensure that our gliders'
stuff is not getting worn out and becoming a hazard. Please send your contributions
Bonding with New Gliders - Part Two
By Lisa and Debbie
If you did not see Part 1 on bonding and want to catch up a bit, just click here. And for those of you who did read last
month's, then I will just remind you that the topic was attitude ... human attitude that is ...certainly an important factor in getting the
bonding process moving along well. More advice on Bonding with Sugar
Gliders can be found in Parts Three, Four,
Five and Six.
Since we started with a human attribute last time, then it only makes sense that we proceed
with the most important glider attribute this time. From our own experiences and the
corroborated experiences of many others, I think most of us would agree that the glider bonds
primarily by scent. Your glider will come to know you, not so much by the way you
look or sound, but by the way you smell.
So you got your first glider (or two) and you are just starting the all important beginning of
your relationship. When most gliders come into a new home, everything they are used to is
different. The smells are different, the sounds are different, the lighting may be different,
and the climate may be different. Critters that are territorial by nature need time to adjust
to these changes. The fact that the human is different is just another change factor that the
glider must get used to.
Since gliders bond by scent, there are a variety of things that you can do to help expedite
the process. First off, you want to let your new glider settle into its new home for a day or
two just so it can get used to the area. But this is not to say that you cannot begin bonding
with your new pet immediately. To do this, you will want to place stuff that smells like you
in or on the cage. Some techniques commonly employed are as follows:
Place a T-shirt you have worn in the cage. It does not appear that exposing
gliders to more than one human scent creates any confusion for the glider during this process.
Wear a big oversized shirt overnight while sleeping. Use this shirt to cover the glider's
home during the bonding process. Also, wear this same shirt when actually handling the gliders so
that it will carry your scent and the glider's scent intermingled.
Take a paper towel or small swatch of fleece. Rub it on your face or skin (preferably where
the skin is more oily). Place this "bonding blanket" in the sleeping pouches with your gliders.
If at all possible, you will want to procure your glider from a person or organization
that frequently handles the gliders. At least this way the glider is unafraid of human handling.
Keep in mind, however, that when the glider comes to you, it still needs to get used to you.
It is not unusual for us to have people come personally pick up their baby gliders.
Our practice is to let the gliders pick out their new human whenever we possibly can.
While the baby gliders may handle beautifully for their new parent while on our property, it is not that
uncommon that the baby "freaks out" when it gets back to its new home. An hour or
two is not enough time to bond, and whenever a glider is moved to a new location, there is bound to be a
settling in period.
Case Study: Arnold, Naomi, Janine and Buddy used to live in a large cage in the "nursery" with
all of our baby gliders. The "nursery" is a small apartment attached to our residence.
We keep this room quite warm. When Arnold and Gang got their new deluxe cage, we moved
them all to "the big house". Due to the temperature changes, and likely the difference in smells due to
the dogs, cats, and birds that live inside, we hardly saw any of these four gliders for nearly a
week. They needed to acclimate to the new surroundings even though they were technically still
in the same house with the same people. Never underestimate their sensitivity to change.
acclimated though, everything returned to normal.
Be aware of personal hygiene products and household products that can hide or change normal
scents. On many occasions, I've had the opportunity to talk to glider people
with bonded gliders that decided to become "mean" suddenly. This happens a lot when a human
changes cologne, deodorant, or even soap. Hand lotions and body creams can confuse the glider as to who it is
really dealing with. The primary method of recognition is scent. If you smell different, you are different to the glider.
This is why our critter-calming Original
Bonding Potion scent is very light and disappears within 15 minutes.
Case Study: Just this week, we both quit smoking. L'il Buddy and
Naomi both went through a couple of nights of no longer recognizing Debbie.
Buddy is a glider that we've never heard crab before in his whole life. Not only did he crab at Debbie, but he nipped her as well...
needless to say, this was quite shocking and unexpected behavior ... After all, Debbie is the
Mistress of Marsupials. But moments later, we both begun to realize that due to stopping
smoking, they no longer recognized us. So be aware that when you make changes in
personal habits, your glider is not necessarily freaking out on you, it's just taking notice of a change
you may not be consciously aware of.
The same thing goes for using spray air conditioners, candles, incense and other air freshening
products. We use all of the above fairly often ... but we do try and use the same type of
candle or same type of animal safe air freshener, so as the keep some consistency in the
environment. Do be aware, however, that the glider has tiny lungs, so be careful of what you
put in the air. It could cause pulmonary inflammation even if it does not adversely affect
behavior patterns. If your gliders seem to have a strange or unpredictable reaction to you,
ask yourself first: is there anything that I did to change the smells around my
gliders? It is not common for a glider to behave unexpectedly without
a logical explanation for the change in behavior.
Does the age of the glider matter when it comes to bonding?
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On... Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part One
By Dr. C., of course!
Go to: Part Two
Part Three Part
In the wild, sugar gliders live in groups, which typically contain more females than males.
Often only one dominant male will breed and the majority of the females will reproduce.
Sexual maturity is reached earlier in females (8 to 12 months of age) than in males (12 to 15
months of age). In Australia, gliders tend to breed in June and July with most of the young born in
the early spring (seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere).
There does not appear to be a breeding season in captive animals. They will breed year round.
If you house a male and female glider together, they will eventually mate (even if it's
mother/son, brother/sister, etc.) and are likely to produce young. This is an
important point because keeping intact family members together means a decrease in genetic diversity which may
lead to problems such as birth defects. If you are planning on keeping related gliders
together, it is best that you neuter the males.
If planning on breeding gliders it is best to wait until they are at least a year old.
Our experience at SunCoast Sugar Gliders has shown this produces healthier, more robust babies
and seems to cause less drain on the mom. When sugar gliders breed, the practice can often be
brutal. Bite wounds and scratches are the resulting injuries commonly seen in breeding gliders.
This is not to say that injuries are a likely outcome of breeding situations, but it is prevalent enough that
you should be aware and check your breeding gliders often for bites, punctures or scratches that can lead to infection
and abscessing. If the female glider is injured, your veterinarian will need to choose an
antibiotic which will have the least effect on the developing young.
When the female is pregnant, it is important to keep her on a high plan of nutrition.
Just consider how important it is for humans to consider prenatal care and diet.
At SunCoast, we feed protein levels of about 50% and its important to note that the protein should be
lean, yet from animal sources. In other words chicken, meal worms, crickets and the like are good.
Ground beef and other beef products are a bit too high in fat. Soy is not an animal protein
and it is not recommended that you use soy products to increase protein levels. Some levels of
fat are important in the breeding females diet as some fat is required as an element in
lactation, just don't overdo it.
It is also critically important to keep stress levels to a minimum. I don't advise showing
all your friends the developing "peanuts" or constantly checking the nest box.
When pregnant and with young, gliders need their alone "glider time". Too much human interaction
can actually be an adverse stimulus.
Gliders kept for breeding are often not the same fun little pets that non-breeding gliders
are. You may notice behavioral changes in the male and/or female in the presence of
young. Both parents are capable of displaying protectionist behaviors.
This is a natural response pattern and if your glider behaves in this manner, I suggest
that you respond accordingly and give them the space that they need. Upset parents will have elevated stress
levels that can influence the young, as well as create situations that can ultimately be
harmful to the young. As a result of our observations, we do find that most gliders will
"return to normal" once the young are old enough to care more for themselves.
Sugar gliders are not hard animals to breed. Due to their unique nature and physiology,
we've accumulated a rather long list of questions that we will now answer for you in a Q & A
format. Questions that are not covered in this edition will be continued next
month, so stay tuned!
Q: How do you tell the male from the female?
A: If you check the glider's under belly, near where you would expect
to see a belly button, you can clearly observe the female's pouch. Also in this same area, the male's scrotum should be
visible. Additionally, the male will have a bifurcated member, which may appear
to be two pink string-like appendages in the area of the cloaca. Thank you to Hope (BMX Girl on Glider
Central) for giving us permission to link to her website pictorially exhibiting the anatomical
characteristics of male and female gliders; click
Q: How many babies do sugar gliders have?
A: Generally sugar gliders will have one or two joeys at a time.
On rare occasions they can have three offspring.
Q: How often do sugar gliders breed?
A: Typically sugar gliders will produce young twice per year, and
occasionally three times a year. The average number of offspring per breeding pair is about 4 joeys per year.
However, this number can be as high as 7 and as low as 1.
Q: How long does it take for gliders to have babies from the day the
breeding takes place?
A: The gestation period is only sixteen days at which time a tiny
underdeveloped joey will make its way into the female's pouch. Here the baby will stay for approximately ten weeks to
complete most of its development. Once the baby emerges from the pouch, it will still
not have a fully furred appearance and the eyes will remain closed for about ten more days.
Q: What is the youngest age a joey can be taken from the parents?
A: It is our recommendation that hobby breeders should keep the babies with the parents for a
minimum of 8 weeks OOP (Out Of Pouch). Many breeders, particularly inexperienced breeders, will pull
babies far too early. We've met too many people that bought sugar gliders that were only 3-4 weeks
OOP age. The mortality rate of babies this young is exceedingly high.
Q: Do sugar gliders have a cannibalistic nature like hamsters and other small mammals?
A: Cannibalism is not a highly occurring event in sugar glider breeding but it can happen.
We believe that three factors are the primary contributors to this situation.
First, the protein levels may be insufficient. Secondly, stress conditions may be excessive.
This goes back to the above statement about over observing the breeding process.
Third, the female may have a health condition that affects her ability to nurture her young, thus the young are
sacrificed for the sake of self preservation.
Go to: Part Two
Part Three Part
Tune back in next month and we will answer a whole new series of breeding questions.
In the meantime, if you have specific breeding questions, send them here and we will do our best to
include them in the next edition of the GliderVet Newsletter.
I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I'll see you again next
Dr. C. (Dr. Janine M Cianciolo)
P.S. If you have any additional questions about this month's article, send your
inquiries by clicking here and I will follow up on the
frequently asked questions in a future edition of GliderVet Newsletter.
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Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
>=<---- >=<---- >=<---- >=<----
That's it for this month's GliderVet Newsletter. I hope you liked what
we had to offer! If you have any stories, questions, pictures, suggestions
for topics - anything glider - you would like to share or see covered in the
GliderVet newsletter, please send them here.
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