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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Hi Gang! Lisa here! Welcome to our April issue of the GliderVet
Newsletter. This issue is dedicated to Sydney Sesame! We
had planned to discuss breeding sugar gliders as one of the
in this issue, but those plans have been postponed so we could bring
you the Fabulous Sydney Sesame story instead.
Stay tuned and read all about it.
Also in this issue we will cover one of the most basic of animal husbandry issues concerning proper and appropriate habitat for
sugar gliders. According to Dr. C., housing is one of the most important aspects of husbandry.
Not only is having the right size environment for your pet important, but the right type and style
is important as well. Many health issues can develop because of inappropriate housing.
But before we get to Dr. C.'s feature article, I would like to correct an omission in
last month's issue. As you may recall, special kudos were sent out to Kerri for her efforts in contacting
Marc Marrone, animal expert frequently featured on Martha Stewart's show. Well,
the fact is Kerri made the official first phone call, but lots and lots of sugar glider fans everywhere followed in
Kerri's footsteps and through this group effort were able to persuade Mr. Marrone to
update and upgrade the information he is disseminating on sugar gliders. So my apologies for not giving
credit to all of you who care enough about our special little friends to have taken the time out of
your busy schedules to help further and expand useful sugar glider information.
And again thanks to Marc Marrone for being an attentive and responsive individual.
Now I know that lots of you enjoy reading Dr. C's articles and she
appreciates your letters of thanks, but fact is Arnold got a few
more pieces of fan mail last month than even our own Dr. C did.
Sorry about that Doc!
This month Arnold has teamed up with his friend Twiggy and the
Twigmeister has influenced Arnold's discussion
this month on why owning sugar gliders is very healthy for
humans. Let's face it, Arnold has a lot more time on his hands
than Dr. C.
does so he can get right down to the heart of what really
Despite her very busy doctor schedule, Dr. C
is taking two weeks off this month to participate in a green sea turtle
study off the
coast of Nicaragua. This is an annual event for Dr. C and I know
everyone joins me in wishing her good luck as she spends her research
time 100 miles offshore in a tiny little boat. In addition to
in saving the endangered sea turtle, Dr. C's tour group also spends
time educating the natives who have relied on sea turtles for
food for hundreds of years. Educating natives on other possible
food sources and agricultural techniques directly affects the efforts
of saving these beautiful sea creatures.
I just want to remind everybody that this newsletter is intended to
express the wishes of the whole sugar glider community.
We encourage you to submit your stories of interest, your burning
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 them here.
If you ever want to find earlier issues of GliderVet News, you can access our archives
here. If you are looking for sugar glider tested and approved products,
check out our ever expanding store here.
Pictures of unusually colored and rare sugar gliders are here, and fun pics of
sugar gliders sent in by our customers are found here.
For those of you who have been asking about an inexpensive alternative to Arnold's
Deluxe Cage, we finally figured out a way to do it. We are pleased to
offer the same cage we use in the Sugar Shack at a price Arnold is tickled over while
still keeping the shipping cost at $4. Plus, you can get the cage
combined with supplies or supplies and nutrition items for a real steal of a
deal - the perfect sugar glider starter kits - just add gliders!
To check out the new cage and cage plus starter kits, click
Frequently Asked Question:
What Temperature is Right for Sugar Gliders?
By Lisa & Debbie
One of the most frequent questions that we get asked by new sugar
glider owners is what temperature is best for sugar gliders?
This is a great question and an important one in order to create the
best environment for our small marsupial buddies.
Generally, you will hear that temperatures of 65 - 90 degrees are
suitable for sugar
gliders. And while we generally concur with this estimation,
there are a few considerations one should be aware of in providing a
climate for your sugar gliders, particularly when dealing with young
sugar gliders, sugar gliders you are trying to newly acclimate, and
breeding sugar gliders.
First of all, the body temperature of sugar gliders is similar to
our own body temperatures, so for a general rule of thumb, if it's
comfortable for you, it's a tolerable range for the sugar gliders as
Now concerning baby sugar gliders, we keep our babies in a regulated
range of 78-80 degrees year round.
This is significantly warmer than most people keep their homes.
We believe that it is
important to find out from your breeder what temperature the babies
have been kept and you will want to create a similar
environment when you first bring them home and slowly acclimate them to
home temperature. We are not recommending that you adjust your
necessarily. Additional heat can be accomplished by heating pads
(never hang on the inside of a cage), ceramic heat
lamps, and infrared heat lamps.
Our breeding gliders are kept at controlled temperatures of 70 degrees to 85 degrees.
The warmer temperatures don't bother the sugar gliders quite as much as it does us, but we are moving around
and working hard to keep their cages clean, their food dishes full and really working up
a froth. They are sleeping and sleeping quite peacefully on an 85 degree day.
We also have rather high humidity in Florida during the summer and this is actually a welcome condition
for sugar gliders. Our sugar glider facility, more lovingly known as the Sugar Shack, is
outfitted with air conditioning, but for heat we use space heaters. Space heaters are notoriously bad about drying
out the air, so we use humidifiers in conjunction with the space heaters to offset this problem.
Temperature considerations should also be made when relocating sugar gliders from one home to another.
We'd like to share a little story with you here. Before Arnold and friends had their new
deluxe cage setup, we kept them in our nursery in an equally large cage,
just not as pretty. As we've said above, we keep the nursery quite warm.
We moved Arnold, Janine, Naomi and Buddy into the
family room when their new cage arrived, and because the house is usually a bit cooler than the
nursery, we hardly saw them for a week.
Now these are very bonded sugar gliders and the only change in their
environment was relocating the cage
from the nursery to the house and it did indeed have an effect on their
temporarily. One might also assume that the new cage may have
attributed to the change in behavior, and this is true, but we moved
so much of their other stuff into the cage just for the purpose of
making them feel at home
as quickly as possible.
We hope this helps you better understand just one of the issues that
can create acclimation adjustments for our fuzzy little friends.
The Fabulous Sydney Sesame Story!
A few days before last month's newsletter dropped, we had a very sad event here at
SunCoast Sugar Gliders. One of our mommy gliders died rather suddenly and mysteriously.
If that is not sad enough, she had a baby in her pouch that was just about ready to
come out of the pouch. This little baby, now known as the Fabulous Sydney Sesame, has battled
huge odds and will be nearly five weeks old (OOP -out of pouch) when this newsletter
comes to you.
Fact is, saving young joeys without a mother is a time consuming
task and the odds of keeping the baby alive are very slim at such a
young and tender age. Poor little Sydney had hardly any fur and
her eyes were still very closed shut.
We have never had an incident quite like this one since we became
involved with so many sugar
gliders, and despite the happy ending you will read about here, I truly
hope we do not have
to draw on this experience again.
It all started on a Friday morning a little more than four weeks
ago, and Sydney's dad was acting frantic. He was completely beside
himself. Debbie checked the nest box because we knew a baby was
due out pretty
soon and the poor mom had already passed to Glider Heaven. Sydney
was found inside a toilet paper core, one of her
parent's favorite toys. Somehow they had managed to get the whole
thing inside the nest box,
despite the fact that the nest box hole is slightly smaller than the
Another testament to sugar glider genius! Anyway, little Sydney
was very tiny and obviously had
not eaten for some time. She was skinny and frail and only
weighed three grams.
Our whole day was shot. It was one of the saddest things we'd
We knew how slim our chances were. In the past, we've had to hand
feed babies for a variety of reasons,
and with older babies our success ratio was only about 50%. It
was indeed a black day.
Well, fortunately we had some marsupial milk replacer
on hand and mixed up the formula to start tube feeding this small, diminutive creature.
She was amazingly cooperative for this feeding. We used an insulin syringe with a small bird feeding tip to begin the
process. Within three days it seemed as if she were eating her weight in formula.
I mean we are talking wolf hound city. This little tiny thing had a huge appetite.
But we knew deep down that we had to get her past the two week mark to even begin to believe that we had a
chance to keep her going.
In the meantime, I sought out the advice of the members of the Glider
Central message board. What a great community and incredible place to find experience with sugar gliders at
all levels. My first contact was with Judie, who was very helpful in trying to
determine the best type of feeding device we could use.
By Monday, little Sydney went from 3 grams to 5 grams in weight. This was a considerable accomplishment.
We keep her in an incubator type setup to help regulate her body temperature, as this
is a job a momma glider would usually perform. Within days, she would sense one of us
reaching into the incubator and would make the "shhh shhhh" noise that babies do when calling to mom.
It is just about the most endearing thing you could imagine. She had acknowledged us as her rightful
She came by her name Sydney because of the Australia thing. Debbie and I both thought Sydney would be a great name for a
glider. The Sesame part was added on a bit later because every time we'd feed her we would
say "Open Sesame", and she would! When you are hand feeding a baby
sugar glider you need a consistent schedule, and we chose to start her on an
every two hour round the clock feeding routine. Even at the issue of this newsletter, we've only upgraded her to a three
hour round the clock schedule.
During her first week we were very pleased with the gusto she showed
during feeding time.
Her volume of consumption was very healthy, as a matter of fact, maybe
And by the end of the first week, everything seemed to be going well
except she seemed to have persistent
diarrhea and was eating significantly more than what would be
considered normal for her weight.
It was around this time that I had the opportunity to begin a series of
discussions with Ellen and husband, Dr. Bruce.
Ellen had some very good advice in regards to changing the formulation we were using
and within just a couple of days, Sydney's stools improved considerably and she didn't overeat any longer.
Overeating can often be a sign that something is missing from the diet, and even
babies this young have an instinct to continue eating until that need is filled.
Now, I will spare you the day to day account of what has
the last many weeks, but I would like to share with you some
interesting observations we've made during this time with Sydney.
First and foremost, having the right formula available is vitally
And the formula should be adjusted in regards to water volume to
regulate the baby's potty habits.
For example, if the baby is not urinating regularly and stools appear
to harden a bit, the baby
is not getting enough water. If stools are softish, we've chosen
to cut back the water content of the
formula, but always offering fresh water after each feeding. I am
leaving out the exact formulation of the diet we've chosen, as I do not
want to encourage anyone to undertake this task unless it is vitally
all other options are exhausted. If you believe you may need to
undertake feeding chores for a baby sugar glider, contact me
here and I will discuss the formula with you one on one.
Unfortunately, some people will intentionally pull babies early to
hand feed as they are
under the impression that they will end up with a "better" sugar
While I will not dispute that the bond between Sydney, myself and
Debbie is incredible,
incredible bonds can still be developed later in a sugar glider's
life. Sydney is still undersized for her age and is lacking
in the benefit of receiving her mother's immunities that she normally
would have received if
Check out pictures of tiny Sydney Sesame here.
Next important issue we discovered was that the temperature of the formula had to be exactly to Sydney's liking.
She's a little bit like Goldilocks ... if its too cold, or too hot, Sydney doesn't like it.
Baby sugar gliders are usually incapable of excreting on their
own. So it
is very important to stimulate babies to go. We use a soft tissue
(Puffs) dipped in warm water to stimulate her to help prevent
any blockages. Her mother would normally perform this function.
The next observation made was a rather profound one for us.
We've discovered that Sydney is much more responsive in activity
and eats better when she is carried on our person during the day.
you ever need to nurture a baby glider, I'm not sure the best way for
you to accomplish this physical contact, but we've
found that a sports bra works perfectly for the task. I had to go out of town on a one day trip and
Debbie was very busy that day caring for the critters, so Sydney was left in her incubator for the
day. She became quite sullen and did not eat well at all. As soon as
I returned home and started carrying her again, she immediately perked up and got back solidly on the program.
By the way, we are using a plastic hospital aquarium, with a heating pad underneath
half of it and a "scented" T-shirt in the bottom for her to snuggle in as
her incubator set-up.
We are now into Sydney's fifth week. She is still smaller than her similarly
aged peers, but she is strong, active, her eyes are fully open and bright and she is even starting to play a lot.
She likes to lay on her back and swat at things like a tiny little cat. She loves playing in
hair and she will fall asleep almost instantly when she gets chest and belly rubs.
By the time we send out our May newsletter, she should be fully weaned and for the sake of my sleep, a self sufficient
Last, but not least, I've sent thanks to just a few here today, but
I don't want to leave out the many others who've sent their well
wishes and offers of assistance, particularly Lucy, Sheila, John, Rose
and JoJo, the sugar
glider who's promised to teach Sydney how to be a calendar girl one day!
Keeping Sugar Gliders Improves Health in Humans!
By Arnold (with a little help from Debbie)
During the day, as I'm sound asleep and dreaming peacefully, sometimes I have these subliminal thoughts about my humans.
As I lie in my cozy pouch, in a half dreamlike state, I often ponder important stuff.
One of my favorite ponderings is why it's good for sugar gliders to keep humans.
For a long time I really wished I could talk to some other sugar gliders outside of my colony about their
experience with their humans and fate smiled upon me.
The other day my Sugar Mama was on the phone with Twiggy's Sugar Mama and I don't think they remembered to do the hangy up
thing ... cause when Lisa left the room, I could talk to the Twig Man and he could talk to me.
Ya see, I'm far too little to actually use the talking device on my own, and I don't understand numbers, so it was
really quite a stroke of luck.
So anywho, me and the Twigs was yapping and chirping away and we comes to this big giant conclusion about life with humans and
how its not only good for us to have them, but ya see it's really really good for them to have us.
Why, you ask? Well that's simple. First of all it's a
well known scientific
fact that you big gentle giants have this thing called in-stinks ...
and it's your in-stink that makes you have this big need to have
to care for cute little things like little ole me. So we do you
this big favor and let you
fulfill your in-stinks by letting you wait on us hand and clawed foot.
Now that's one reason, but then there is this other really great reason why we are so good for you.
You see, my oversized, hairless, clawless friends, you have particular nutritional needs.
I know this because you need even more variety than us suggies do. You eat a whole lot of different kind of
stuff. So getting back to my old boy Twiggy, he and I are talking about this
dietary phenomenon and we come to this scientific conclusion that since we've
been around there is a lot more variety of food in your fridge than ever
before. Cause me and Twig hear stuff in two different households, like "time to go to
the market again. Doesn't it seem like we go to the market a lot more since we
got our sugar gliders?" Now this is a good thing. Variety and fresh foods are
important for all mammals ... and that means me ... and that means you!
But I do have a little bone to pick and Twiggy feels the same way. We are too
little to open the door to the cold box. And we know you buy a lot of special
stuff for us because that's your in-stink. But why do you all of a sudden find
yourself eating more apples, and pears, and blueberries, and yogurt and apple juice and eggs and
cauliflower and broccoli and chicken? I could go on and on. It seems
like everything you got for us to fulfill your in-stink, you big ole piggys eat up all by yourself.
And the worst has to be in Twiggy's house, cause there lives some mini-giants ... I think they are called
kids ... and they eat all the fresh stuff that we need to survive. Then you people start yelling that there's
no food for the sugar gliders. Well, hmmmpphh, I find this very very disturbing.
OK, now I never present a problem without a solution. Why don't you spend more
time eating potato chips, pretzels, doughnuts, hamburgers, ice cream, chocolate,
pizza and that kind of stuff, then you don't need to get so worked up when it's time to wait on us?
Either that or get more fresh stuff to keep on hand!
Now I don't want you to feel too bad about all that I've said here,
cause the truth is I am really happy to know that you don't like
mealworms, cause they really are my most favoritest.
So I guess we'll keep ya, and help you fulfill your in-stinks and just go to the
market more often so you don't get extra stresses. OK? OK!
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On... Housing Sugar Gliders
By Dr. C., of course!
In one of our past newsletters we discussed how important nutrition is to sugar glider health.
Another equally important aspect of good animal husbandry practices concerns housing considerations and the
environment created for your sugar glider. An inappropriate habitat can adversely
affect the health of your pet.
Sugar gliders are very active, arboreal (tree dwelling), nocturnal, and social animals in the wild
- and these attributes need to be accommodated in captivity. For these reasons they need large
cages, especially in the vertical direction to facilitate climbing. I recommend cages
constructed of animal safe wire. If the wire is painted, the paint finish should be powder coated or some
other finish that contains no zinc or lead. While it hasn't been demonstrated in gliders, other species
like birds have become ill/toxic from chewing various types of metal screening, bars, etc.
When you choose the cage material for your gliders, make sure that it has been demonstrated to be a safe material for these
The minimum size cage should be roughly three feet
high, with bigger (as in taller)
being better. The width of the cage should be a minimum of 24 to 30 inches for a single glider and 30 inches or better
for multiple gliders. The larger the social group of gliders, the larger
the cage should be. Other considerations to keep in mind when choosing
housing are bar spacing width. Sugar gliders are able to escape if the spacing exceeds ½ inch.
The ability to lock and fasten doors is also important as sugar gliders are clever enough to open doors and let
themselves free, thus exposing themselves to the possibility of danger. Some cages
tend to snag or injure toes and toenails. Keep these issues in mind when selecting the right habitat for your pet.
Having a tall vertical cage outfitted with branches, vines/ropes for
climbing, as well as toys will provide the necessary environmental
enrichment to keep your glider active and entertained. Toys with holes in them are very good
for the exploring nature of the sugar glider. Remember, in the wild sugar gliders will nest in tree hollows.
Changing the location and variety of vines, ropes and toys will create additional stimulation and will help prevent
boredom, especially if you have only one glider.
Also it is very important to provide at least one nesting box and/or pouch,
but I recommend two or more as the sugar gliders naturally enjoy moving their sleeping quarters from time to time.
The actual setup of the environment is referred to as environmental enrichment and it is a primary consideration
at zoological institutions when creating new animal habitats.
An active glider is less likely to become obese. Obesity is a major cause
of health problems in sugar gliders. As with humans, excess weight can lead
to joint, heart and kidney problems, as well as causing the glider to tend towards lethargy.
Feeding and watering stations or platforms should be located at various locations in the
cage to encourage exercise.
I do not recommend aquariums since it is difficult to obtain a vertical structure of the appropriate dimensions.
Additionally, sugar gliders cannot climb on glass walls. Restricting their access to lots of
climbing can cause a multitude of problems with sugar gliders, including inappropriate
joint use, which could eventually cause damage to the joints.
Cages that are smaller or even near the minimum recommended sizes should include exercise type toys, like the
Wodent Wheel for example.
If the cage space does not well accommodate the active nature of the sugar glider, then
utilize the space in a manner that will still provide ample access to exercise by outfitting
the cage with movement type toys and accessories.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal and many activities take place in the
Outfitting the cage with a red light, which you turn on at night will
allow you to observe the gliders without disturbing them with
"white light" (i.e. room lighting). This is the same technique
used in nocturnal houses at
To keep your pet healthy you must keep the environment clean. A full cage
cleaning, including toys, branches and bedding should take place at least weekly and more if the enclosure is on the smaller
side. Food bowls and water bottles should be cleaned daily.
I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I'll see you again next month!
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!
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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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SunCoast Sugar Gliders
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