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GliderVet #132: Feeding Greek Yogurt, Dear Arnold: Male Neutering & Metabolism, Bonding: Separate or Together?

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GliderVet Newsletter
Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
==========================
"I love (my animals) because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul." ~ Jean Cocteau

Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the April 2013 edition of the GliderVet News.

Each spring, we try to give you a "heads up" in advance of the summer heat to let you know it's a good time to stock up on every suggie's favorite: yogurt drops!  Why?  If you order yogurt drops when it's hot out, they may get a bit melted and stuck together during shipment.  Result?  They're still fine to feed to your gliders but you have to bust 'em up first.  If this would be a big deal for you, order your summer yoggies now, or switch to Papaya and / or Mango for the summer because they are not affected by the heat.

Moving on...I see ads for Greek Yogurt all the time and judging by the shelf space in the grocery store it's a pretty big deal!  Naturally, folks start asking us about feeding the stuff to sugar gliders so we gave it a try.  Let's just say things got a little sticky...get the story below.

Next up, Arnold returns with his opinion on whether or not he's a "real man" just because he's missing his, umm, you know, male parts.  Do male gliders with "No T" tend towards weight gain and laziness?  Hold on to your seats, you'll hear the riveting answer here first.

Finally, there's a lot of confusing stories out there about "how to"  bond with sugar gliders.  Sometimes I think all these "rules and regs" about bonding with gliders just confuse the heck out of people.  We lean more towards using the actual behavior of the animals to set the direction rather than hard and fast rules.  You'll see what I mean in the last piece for this newsletter on bonding with multiple fuzzbutts. 

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 questions.  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.


Feeding Greek Yogurt
===============

Over the last couple of years, the amount of grocery shelf space devoted to yogurt seems to reflect an evolution in the yogurt industry.  What used to be just a few choices and a few flavors has exploded to such a wide variety of yogurt choices.  As such things develop in grocery stores, we start to more get questions right in line.

We've always suggested that when feeding yogurt to sugar gliders that you go with flavored varieties that do NOT contain sugar substitutes.  Many people confuse this idea of low fat versus low sugar.  Yogurt, by its very nature, is low fat and companies will "advertise" this fact all over the label.  It is the "low sugar" yogurt you generally want to avoid as the sugar substitute is often aspartame.  Aspartame is a somewhat controversial ingredient in the animal community and people try to stay away from it for various reasons.  Here at Suncoast we apply the "why risk it?" philosophy whenever feeding alternatives are easily available.  In the case of yogurt, well, there are tons of natural products out there, so "why risk it?"

We do feed flavored yogurts to our sugar gliders and I tend to go for the flavors that seem most universally accepted by all of our colony. The three flavors I find that most gliders like best are vanilla, peach and blueberry.  This is not to imply that you can't try other flavors, it's just what our crew likes the best.  We do find that sugar gliders are much happier with the flavored yogurts versus plain yogurt, but if yours love plain yogurt, so be it!

One of the new yogurt fads lately is greek yogurt.  I found this interesting tidbit in an article called "The history of yogurt":

"Yogurt is one of the oldest produced foods in human history.  No one knows for sure how long yogurt has been around, but most historians place its discovery somewhere between 9000 and 6000 B.C.  Evidence suggests that by 9000 B.C. Neolithic man in Central Asia had domesticated horses, cattle, and camels, and were known to drink their milk.  The discovery of yogurt is supposed to have been accidental, a happy mistake made by early man attempting to store milk in a warm climate.  The fermentation process was discovered and yogurt has not only survived into modern times, but has spread throughout the world."

So now we have this "new" thing on the shelves called Greek yogurt, which is significantly thicker and stickier than regular yogurt.  Of course everyone starts asking, "Is greek yogurt OK to feed to my gliders?"  So I thought I'd give it a try.

And I'm going to stick with the less sticky, more traditional yogurt as a result of this experiment.  Read on for the reasoning!

Looking back, I should have tried the greek yogurt experiment with only a few, only adult gliders to start.  But it didn't really look that different or taste that different, although I did notice the thicker consistency.  Well, long story short, the adults did ok with it, but the babies that we were weaning ended up really sticky and it was beyond their capacity to clean themselves.  

We often keep 5 - 10 joeys per cage when we take them from the parents because we found that grouping them this way creates a nice social dynamic, meaning they will learn from each other much quicker than when kept in smaller groupings.  They will also work as a team to clean each other.  But the greek yogurt exceeded their capacity for hygiene and I had to wash each one of those babies in a bowl of warm water to get rid of the stickies, because baby wipes did not work!  A dampened cloth also did not work.  It had to be the full fledged bath which they did not enjoy a great deal, but the stickiness had to be soaked off.

Now, I don't know how many of you have ever tried to wash a sugar glider.  The bath part is not so bad, but drying them takes forever.  I got out the blow dryer on low temp with a diffuser because they don't particularly like being blown on, and I couldn't believe how long it took to dry each one.  Their hair has an naturally oily quality and it took at least twice as long to blow dry each baby than it takes me to style my own hair!

So I'm going to recommend that if you choose to go with greek yogurt, go easy with it and perhaps avoid giving it to the very young .... if I had to venture an age to try greek yogurt, I would say at least 3 - 4 months old so they have better developed grooming habits.

From a nutritional standpoint, the greek yogurt is generally higher in protein, which is a plus, but I am personally opting to not feed greek yogurt again.  It was an unpleasant mess and the babies were obviously relieved after their baths, but I have no doubt it was uncomfortable for them to have so much goo on their bodies.

At the same time, I have to say, I have heard about folks who feed greek yogurt and have absolutely no problems with it.  I suspect these folks are talking about more mature gliders, and are perhaps feeding under more tightly controlled conditions like as a treat or mixed with other food to the offering is not as sticky.

We try a lot of different things around here and like to test products, find supportive science, and do our very best to bring you good information.  When the test doesn't go well, we think there is value in sharing that as well!  And if you ever run out of personal hair product, try some greek yogurt for that all day stay, spiky look.  That can be a good look on some people, but not so much for sugar gliders!


Dear Arnold: Does neutering make male gliders fat and lazy?
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by Arnold (with a little help from Lisa)

Dear Arnold,

When you get sugar gliders fixed, will they get fat or less active?  I'm not sure if I want my sugar gliders fixed or not because I want to know if neutering will change the personality in any way.  I want two males and I'm going to name them Bilbo and Gandalf.

Thanks, J.R.

---------------

Hi J.R., 

Like those names. Almost as cool as Arnold T Schwarzenglider!  

And to answer your question, the answer is .... drum roll puhleeze!

NO!  My buddy Buddy is a big guy, but not chubby and he was neuterized very young.  I'm lean and mean, and very active!

My company, (yes Suncoast Sugar Gliders is mine, mine, mine!) my precious, started working with vets a long, long time ago in a place called Middle Florida to get deals on boy sugar gliders getting their deals cut off.  Our first vet did lots of research 'cuz she said that with some animules, if they are fixed too young it could affect their growth or life span.  But then she found some cool science-y stuff that said with sugar gliders, 'tis not the case.

And since my Suncoast Sugar Gliders, precious, has been around so long now, we can tell ya from our own experience that us boys will keep our personalities and if we get fat it's 'cuz we ate too much, not because of nuttin' else. 

And I know some Daddy gliders that are lazy fellows.  Sometimes if ya have a sugar glider dude that is really territorial, neutering might make him care less about being so bossy.  But then again my buddy Buddy is pretty territorial.  He's real nice and all, he just doesn't like when sugar gliders that aren't part of our colony try and visit our house.  I don't mind it at all, but Buddy is a lot bigger than me so I let him have his way.  And he ain't the boss of me 'cuz I'm fast!

Yours truly, 

Arnold 
Lord of the Ba-Da-Bings!


Separating sugar gliders while bonding
=========================

Dear Ms. Lisa,

I was wondering when I should separate my gliders so they can bond with me?  Right now, they sleep in the same pouch and I separate them in the morning.  My littlest one sleeps a lot more than my other two.  Is this normal?  They will let me pet them without hissing, but will only hang with me for a 'lil before trying to jump back into their cage.  What do you think?

Jessica

---------------

Dear Ms. Jessica,

I think bonding should start within days of getting your sugar gliders, if not right away.  "Separating" them is meant to encourage you to work with them one on one, not to literally separate them into separate cages, nor to expect them to sleep in separate sleeping pouches.  Other than during bonding time, they should be together.

Why?  Well, they are bonding to each other as well and this does not preclude them from bonding with their human.  Think of someone you know who has more than one dog.  The dogs are bonded to each other, right?  They are also bonded to the humans in the family.

Sugar gliders are the same way.  It is healthy for them to have sugar glider friends and even multiple human friends.  If you try and bond with them in the same bonding pouch, one might cling to the other to feel safe.  What we want is for them to learn that it is safe to cling to us humans - we can be the "tree" they like to hang around in.

This is why we suggest that you work your bonding with them one on one, OR keep them in separate bonding pouches - one or the other.  In other words, you can try bonding with them both at the same time, OR may find the bonding goes quicker if they are each in their own bonding pouch for bonding activities.  In this second case, they are still aware of their sugar glider companions being close by, but it prevents them from hiding behind the other to feel more secure and safe.  Once bonded to you, then it's quite ok to carry them around in the same pouch.  I often carry two, three, sometimes four gliders together in a single pouch, once they are bonded.   

Does this answer your question Ms. Jessica?

Lisa

---------------

Hi again Ms. Lisa,

So its alright to let them sleep together?  My male has started to greet me at the door of the cage, but not my females.  It felt like I was working against myself by letting them sleep together...

Jessica

---------------

Well hello again to you Ms. Jessica,

Absolutely they should sleep together.  Their bond to each other has nothing to do with how they will, or will not, bond with you.  As a matter of fact, trying to isolate them from the other sugar gliders could put added stress on them in the form of separation anxiety and this could actually inhibit the bonding process. 

I do find that in most cases, males tend to bond quicker.  They seem to be more outgoing, more interactive and more curious.  But not always.  Just like people, they each have their own unique personality.

For example, I don't think most people would say male humans are ALWAYS stronger than female humans.  It's not always true.  I know a lot of guys that would not want to battle strength against female powerhouses like Laila Ali or Serena Williams!

Likewise, female sugar gliders tend to be more shy and timid and tend to take longer to bond.  But not always!  I have a few very outgoing females that are into everything more than their male companions.

At the same time, we shouldn't ignore trends in average behavior.  So the general rule of thumb is that males tend to bond quicker.  But all sugar gliders will bond at different paces.  I don't think I ever remember a story or have personally had an experience that the bonding process happened in the same amount of time in the exact same way. 

Some of the sweetest sugar gliders I have are females.  Some of the most stubborn sugar gliders I have are females, but then I have a few stubborn males and a few males that are really docile and laid back, which we would generally see more in female sugar gliders. 

Be patient, let them be together and make their time with you the time when they get to trust you.  I think trust is actually a better word than bonding.  When they are scared, if you are the one that makes them feel safe, this is where the trust begins and as the trust grows, the bond naturally grows right along with the trust.

So "trust me" on this, keep putting your time in and don't give up on those girls.  They are well worth it!  And a sweet, gentle female is hard to beat as a companion that will stick right there with you.  I personally find the males more humorous (generally), but I have some females that are just as silly as a male glider could ever be. Sugar gliders are each unique and individualized, which is one of the things that make them such delightful companion animals!


'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 with us! 

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GliderVet Newsletter
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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Viva La Glider!  Arnold

Lisa
SunCoast Sugar Gliders

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