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Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the May 2011 edition of the GliderVet News.
Life is grand at the Sugar Shack these days. First, I'd like to
announce and welcome our newest member of Arnoldís
Army, Grey. Grey is a freshman in college studying to be a vet
tech, with aspirations of becoming a vet once she completes her
undergraduate program. We are delighted to have someone who loves
animals so dearly as part of our team.
I just hope she doesnít spoil all the sugar gliders too much (if there
is such a thing). Welcome Grey!
Spring has also brought to us an abundance of special color sugar gliders.
As we drop this newsletter, we still have three beautiful joeys that are not yet spoken for.
We have two platinum joeys and one leucistic joey. They are all between 8-9 weeks
OOP and ready for new homes. All of them are female and we are asking
$1500 each, and will entertain all offers. Please click
here to see the lovely ones.
This month we'll be answering a couple of questions by sharing some correspondent comments
we received during the past month. While we receive way too many questions
to cover in a single newsletter, we are grateful to the overachieving
glider-loving community out there! It just goes to show how more and more
glider lovers want to learn as much as they can so they can provide the best
care for their sugar gliders. The more we know about any species of animal we
care for, the better the experience is for us and for them!
Before diving in, just a "heads up" that Cage & Toy Shield
now works even better than before, thanks to an enhanced emulsification
process during manufacturing.
The exact same formulation still delivers a protective non-stick
barrier that provides easy cleanups, prevents metal corrosion and
buildup. But now it also penetrates even deeper into every
surface it is applied to!
Please remember that this newsletter is intended to express the wishes
of the whole sugar glider community.
Every article published in this newsletter is a result of someone just
like you taking the time to write us with thoughts, ideas, stories and
Send your comments to us 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.
Why Do Gliders Hiss?
Just yesterday I got a call from a brand new Glider Mama who was concerned that she heard her gliders hissing.
She had read on the internet that when gliders hiss, it means they are constipated.
In my observations, this could be true or false.
Sugar gliders that are hissing while just playing or running around can be a perfectly normal activity.
As we discussed in a previous newsletter, the glider bark can have a double meaning.
Click here to read more about that.
Hissing may just be a way of glider communication. But there are
when it may be indicative of a health issue. For example, if your
sugar glider hisses while trying to urinate or
defecate, then itís definitely time to pay attention. Intestinal
blockages (constipation) will make the
sugar glider strain when they are trying to defecate and they often
hiss while straining.
Hissing during urination could also indicate difficulty and is often
the sign that people notice when their sugar glider has a urinary tract
infection or some other condition causing the difficulty.
Hissing during normal play is just fine. But hissing while pooping could be a sign of a blockage.
Now while Iím always amongst the first to encourage vet visits, if you suspect a blockage, you might try
adding one or two drops of mineral oil to a favorite food. If this doesnít work in a day or two, then see a vet. Not all blockages are the result of constipation.
If your glider is hissing while urinating and seems to be straining
and having a difficult time passing urine,
it is important to see a vet right away. Whatever the root cause
of the issue, it is likely to be very painful and uncomfortable.
Does Negative Reinforcement Work with Sugar Gliders?
We respect and honor the fact that different people have different
viewpoints on how animals should be trained and bonded.
Like everyone else, we hold views that feel best to us, and this is the
basis of how we teach people about their new sugar glider pets.
OK, you know how much I love dogs. Dogs and sugar gliders are
my best friends.
Several years ago, my dog Georgia was given a steroid shot because she
had a really bad case of the itchies.
Anyone who knows Georgia knows that she is just about the sweetest and
gentlest soul on the planet earth.
She got the shot because after having her tested for allergies, she
positive to allergies to almost everything - grass, mold, beef, carrots
- and even borderline allergic to dog
hair. The poor thing is almost allergic to herself! The
veterinarian suggested we give her the steroid shot,
which ultimately turned out to be a big mistake. That same
evening, Georgia bolted from the front door and bit a neighbor in her
calf, requiring a copious number of stitches.
The neighbor made a deal with me: I could either take her to a
specified dog training school, or she was going to call the cops and
have Georgia taken from me.
I will add that Georgia has never had a steroid shot again and that
even remotely behaved this way again. I told the vet what had
happened and she confirmed that some animals do not react well to such
I, of course, opted to put her through the doggy training program
selected by my
neighbor. It was very militant and not at all kind. The
instructor used a barbed choke collar
for training. And when he gave her a correction, he used all of
his might in his over 200 pound frame to make Georgia do what he
commanded her to do.
It broke my heart. I am familiar with a variety of forms of
dog training and I find that the kinder, gentler way is more
Rather than instructing a pet to respond out of fear, I prefer teaching
place of respect for you as leader of the pack.
I am not a fan of using negative reinforcement in training with ANY animal.
Now dogs are dogs, but if you try to use negative reinforcement with a cat, hopefully
the cat is de-clawed because he or she will not stand for it!
So how does this all relate to sugar gliders? Simple,
considering that sugar gliders have much more of a cat attitude
(catitude) than a dog attitude.
Cats will respond much more lovingly through kindness than through
Sugar gliders, in my opinion, also respond much more effectively
through kindness than through roughness.
I bring this up because there are some videos out on YouTube where a
doctor is showing how to handle baby sugar gliders.
And while I respect his achievement as a veterinarian, I think his
approach is very old school.
He shows people how to jam your thumb in the mouth of the sugar glider
it from biting. My first comment is that the glider in his video
appears to be only about 5-6 weeks out of pouch, and
the fact is gliders canít bite very hard at that age. I would
love to see him do a demonstration with a
one year old glider that has come from a neglected or abused
background. Iíd be willing to place my bet on the sugar glider.
Bonding is the result of trust (and sometimes patience), and I
personally embrace an approach that supports a trusting relationship
with our animal friends.
I think being rough with them and doing things to make them afraid of
our hands will not create the richest experience in bonding.
Again, this is simply my opinion. We'll continue to handle our babies with loving kindness and
encourage you to do the same. A soft touch and patience will pay off.
If an animal becomes fearful of you, you may never achieve the goal of having a well bonded little friend.
A List of Common Newbie Questions
Correspondence between Kris Ann and Lisa
I really appreciate Kris Annís email because she hit on so many of the common questions asked by
new sugar glider owners!
Kris Ann: Hi, Lisa. We talked on the phone last week about my questions as a new
Suggie Mom of 2 (adoption day was April 29th!), so here goes:
As you say, "Exotic pets require exotic diets", and I'm freakin
out/terrified of feeding "the Babies" something that will make them
sick (or worse), as the Vet I interviewed said that's the primary
reason she sees Suggies come to her office.
Research says to watch calcium & phosphorus ratios. I've read
that Nuts are a RARE treat because they are high in fat &
What's so bad about phosphorus? What's the detrimental effect?
Does a high fat content in the diet effect eyesight as well as cause
Lisa: Yes, high fat can cause obesity and can also give the appearance
of what looks like cataracts in the eyes, but if you look closely, the
white spot moves.
It is actually excess fat in the eyes and looks a lot like
Phosphorus depletes calcium from the body and one of the primary
nutritional diseases of sugar glides is metabolic bone disease, caused
by a shortage of calcium.
Even if you are giving calcium supplements, too much phosphorus will
still deplete calcium.
The common name for this condition hind leg paralysis.
Kris Ann: How many hours a day do Suggies sleep? 18 out of 24 hours?
Is there an approximate, generally speaking "slumber schedule" that we can expect?
Lisa: Trick question? They usually sleep all day and will be
up a lot at night, but take a lot of naps at night as well.
I would guess they sleep about 18 hours over a 24 hour period,
Kris Ann: We wash our hands with an unscented soap before handling the Babies.
Is this overkill? (Again, as a new Mama learning a whole new species, I don't wanna mess up.)
If so, do you recommend a particular type of soap? Dial? Neutrogena?
Any ol' plain unscented glycerine soap? Ivory? (Are you chuckling yet?)
Lisa: I'm always chuckling, at least I try to ..... unscented is the best. What type is not so important.
Kris Ann: Chewing: Should the Babies be provided with some type of chew toy?
Do they need that, or would they simply find that enjoyable like other animals?
If so, would any fruit tree branch in the cage be OK?
Lisa: Gliders don't have to chew, but some like to chew. Fruit tree branches are great!
Just make sure they have not been sprayed or treated with pesticides or herbicides.
Kris Ann: Variety being a key factor in diet, I mixed boiled egg with
"Kashi" brand high protein Honey, Almond (oops!) flax cereal.
There are no preservatives on label. But almonds are the most
heart healthy nuts (for humans!) and they're such tiny chips in the
Is that bad? (The Babies LOVED it!)
Lisa: I doubt a little would do any harm, but I tend to avoid nuts completely.
Not just because of the fat and phosphorus issue, but it could be a choking hazard as well.
Sugar gliders are not well designed to eat nuts and seeds, although they do find them yummy.
Thank you so much for your time and expert advice.
Grace and Peace,
Grape Controversy Revisited
Correspondence between Shane and Lisa (edited for newsletter)
Hello! I just read your article about the connection with grapes
and kidney disease/failure in sugar gliders and other household
animals. After doing some research, I have found that certain strains
of grapes have low oxalates, and some have high
oxalates (oxalates have been found to cause kidney stones in humans, as
well as animals in high amounts).
Seedless grapes and most grapes found in grocery stores contain very
little amounts of oxalates, and others, mainly seen is concord grapes,
which is the same strand they use for making grape jelly and wine, but
also is sold in some stores.
I believe instead of giving an opinion that all grapes are a risk, that
you should try to dig up more information regarding the different
strands of grapes and making a new article that sheds some light onto
which kinds of grapes to feed to sugar gliders.
I have bought regular red seedless grapes, and my little guy has been
fine so far.
We usually switch it up every few days. One day grapes and
blueberries, the next apples and peaches, the next cantaloupe and
He loves his grapes, and I don't have the heart to take them away from
It's too cute watching the furry little brat suck the insides out of a
Please, I'd appreciate an article explaining about oxalates and which
grapes have a lower amount of this stuff in it. Thanks for hearing me
I really appreciate your email. At the time we did the
there was not much known and studies have since been done linking
certain types of grapes to kidney disease.
Studies Iím aware of have been done in humans, and more recently in
Iím sure there are others out there, but who has time to read them
all? Not me, when I have a bunch of baby animals that need
playing with (which is the best part of my
It was, and is, our intention to simply share with people that grapes
can be a risk.
A lot of people, as you know, won't take the time to study and
distinguish between grapes.
We simply wanted to give a heads up that unless youíre sure that grapes
you might want to walk on the safe side and avoid grapes. I fed
grapes to my gliders for years with
no problems, but a lot of people were calling and emailing with stories
of sudden glider deaths and the only common denominator was that they
had grapes the night before.
We've discussed this with several veterinarians and they all concurred
that certain grapes can cause problems.
Your viewpoints are welcome and appreciated. I thank you for
taking the time to share this.
That all said, while your idea about oxalates being the driver of grape
problems sounds plausible, it's a pretty big jump to then assume grapes lower in
oxalates are a solution and then OK to feed.
From our perspective - and for the sake of the over 12,000 folks who receive this
newsletter - we always walk on the safe side, and if some grapes are a risk,
then in my opinion, it's better to just say "avoid grapes" -
especially when there are so many yummy alternatives out there. Otherwise,
people can and will get confused, some not do their research, others substitute
when they are in a hurry etc. and all of a sudden "you said some grapes are
OK" turns into "you killed my glider". Not on my watch,
So, while I can appreciate there may be science along the lines you have
discussed, we still don't have anything specific on gliders, and I'm still going
to say "avoid grapes". But what I will do is link to this piece
from the grape article so people who desire to do the research and take the risk
that oxalate levels are the solution can benefit.
'Til next time - in good health for you and your gliders, we sign
off in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures
----->=< ---->=< ---->=< ---->=<
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
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