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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Hi Gang! Lisa here!
Welcome to our August issue of the GliderVet Newsletter. Can you believe we are already toward the end of
summer? I hope everyone is keeping their sugar gliders well hydrated during these summer months.
Dehydration is a terrible thing for little sugar gliders and while its tempting to take them out with you, please
make sure they are protected from the bright sun and heat of summer and have lots to drink on hand.
In this issue we will cover a very important topic concerning the necessity of calcium
in the sugar glider's diet. Perhaps you have heard of Hind Leg Paralysis?
I thought it was actually a disease, but according to Dr. C, it's a symptom of a disease condition
called nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. This is a very serious condition and
can manifest if proper calcium dosages are not present in the diet. By taking the time
to familiarize yourself with good dietary guidelines, you can prevent this dread disease
from affecting your beloved sugar gliders. Dr. C will discuss why calcium is
important and what could happen if they do not get enough calcium. She will also discuss the
effects of phosphorus and Vitamin D in the glider's diet as it relates to calcium absorption.
We thank Dr. C for taking on a very complicated and highly scientific topic and putting it
in terms us average glider slaves can understand.
But before we get to Dr. C.'s feature article, Arnold will discuss potty training sugar
gliders. Can it be done? Fact or fiction! As you may recall, Arnold did not have a
contribution last month because we humans decided to dedicate last month's newsletter as
a special health issue. So we all had to give in and do something extra special
for Arnold this month. As Chief Executive Glider here at SunCoast, Arnold has decreed the implementation
and usage of "Arnicons" whenever possible. What is an Arnicon you ask?
Save SunCoast Sugar Gliders as a favorite link on your desktop or in your
Favorites list and see what happens. That's an Arnicon!
I just want to remind everybody that this newsletter is intended to express the wishes of the whole sugar glider community.
We appreciate the comments and suggestions that are sent to us. In time, we hope that everyone's
questions on every topic will be discussed thoroughly. Please 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 tidbits 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.
Before we begin, I would like to share a new project with everyone. Recently
SunCoast Sugar Gliders started hosting a new service called Glider
Exchange. This service is designed to help match people who must find homes for gliders they can no longer keep with homes
willing to open their doors to new sugar glider friends. We are overwhelming pleased with the great
response and thank all of you who have participated with this new FREE service.
Sugar gliders are very special pets and deserve all the love and attention we can give.
This service is only intended for private party ads. Breeders or individuals looking to find homes for
young joey gliders are discouraged from using this resource. Older gliders have special
needs and it is our intention to help fill a void and focus just on the needs of older, mature gliders in need
of more love and attention. If you have a sugar glider website, please link to the
Glider Exchange to help in these efforts.
We appreciate your help in supporting this service on behalf of all older sugar gliders in need of a new home.
To date, we have found new homes for 10 adult gliders!
The free Glider Exchange service is located here:
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:
If I get a male and female glider, will they have babies?
By Lisa & Debbie
OK, OK ... no snickering now! This is actually a question we get asked a lot and it's a very
legitimate question. As sugar gliders are still relatively new as pets, we've found that many
of our new glider owners have had experience with all kinds of other animals in the
past. Some people have bred dogs or cats, or perhaps horses or reptiles, and many of them have bred
birds. While neither of us know a great deal about breeding animals other than sugar gliders,
we have learned over the years that many birds must bond with each other before they will breed.
Some birds can be paired with an opposite sex bird for years and never reproduce.
This is not the case with sugar gliders. If you have a male and a female together in the same
cage, you can pretty much count on them having babies at some point in time.
Sugar gliders are colony animals in the wild and will live with many. They do not "pair" off and
mate for life. In captivity, we have seen that gliders kept in pairs will develop extremely strong
bonds and can experience depression or other issues when a mate is lost. Some are easily
accepting of new mates, while others seem to pine for a beloved lost companion.
With good introduction procedures, however, even the ones who were "in love" will eventually accept a
new mate and continue life happily.
If an opposite sex pair of sugar gliders does not reproduce, then there may be a medical
condition in either one of the gliders making reproduction improbable. Or they may be
actually breeding and due to stress, or poor diet, or some other condition may lose their
babies when they are still in the embryonic stage or in the pouch. We have
found when gliders have too little protein in the diet they will on occasion cannibalize their own young.
While cannibalization is not a common occurrence with sugar gliders, it can happen.
Too much stress can also contribute to this very undesirable behavior.
OK, now that we know if you get a male and female that they are likely to have babies, let's
discuss what you can expect in numbers. Sugar gliders will generally have one or two babies
at a time. And they will breed generally two times a year. Sometimes we have
gliders that will breed three times a year. It is possible for them to have three babies at once, but this is
very, very rare. At SunCoast we have only seen triplets three times.
Frankly, we would prefer to see only one or two as we believe that having so many babies will
ultimately take a toll on the female's body. We are not aware of any documented cases of sugar gliders having more
than three babies.
So what happens now? Your sugar gliders have bred and the presence of babies becomes obvious
when you see what looks like a peanut under the skin of the female's abdomen.
Or you may see two "peanuts" indicating that she is carrying two joeys. The babies are in
the pouch for quite a long time so remember the adage "a watched pot never boils."
The females belly area will keep expanding, and getting larger, and getting bigger and you just know you will have
babies out of the pouch any minute.
Well, it may still take another month! First time human sugar parents are always anxious when
joeys are in the pouch. You will see the emergence of the babies over a few days.
You might see a tail sticking out of the pouch, or perhaps a limb. And it still may take another three days before the
baby fully emerges. You might check on your new glider parents and see a tiny pink baby or two and check the next day and not see
them any more. Guess what? They will sometimes get fully back in the
Do not start holding the babies immediately. When they first emerge they are just barely
furred and the eyes are still closed. A good rule of thumb is to hold the babies after eyes
are opened, on the condition it does not upset either the Mommy or Daddy Glider.
This is not a time to be causing stress in the environment. We know its hard to be
patient, but its so important that you let nature take its course.
If the parent gliders are OK with you holding the baby, start off with just brief periods of
holding initially and we advise that you stay in plain view of the parents.
Some will get quite upset if you leave the viewing area. You might start off with just five-minute spans
of baby holding time. If you see any signs of either parent fretting, return the
baby to the nest immediately. It's not worth taking any chances - you've come this far already.
As the joey or joeys get older, you can hold them for longer periods of time, but remember
that babies need to feed often, so don't stretch that time out too long. At some point you
may notice that the female leaves her babies behind and she will take some time for
herself to stretch the legs or get a good meal. Generally during this time the male will stay behind
and baby sit. Male sugar gliders make very good fathers and it is not advisable to remove the
male from the cage while babies are present. He will give a lot of relief to the
female and help care for the babies by keeping them warm and clean.
There are "bad things" that can happen in some instances of breeding sugar gliders, which we
will discuss in future issues of the newsletter. For the sake of this article we have
chosen to stick with what you can normally expect. Now that you know some basic information
about sugar glider birthing, it's only appropriate that we advise you on how the government
expects you to handle this blessed event.
Sugar gliders are presently classified as exotic pets. For this reason,
there are government regulations that you need to be aware of. First of all, anyone who breeds sugar gliders with
the intention of selling the joeys is required to have a USDA license. The APHIS division is
responsible for handling licensing under the Animal Welfare rules. Here is a link directly to
the USDA for more information on the process:
In addition to needing USDA licensing, you will also need to check with your State regarding
licensing. We are in Florida and are required to carry a State of FL license issued through
the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Some localities also require licensing, so
make sure you are fully informed on these issues before your sugar gliders start breeding.
Failure to do so could result in fines and/or possible confiscation of your fuzzy friends.
If you have male and female sugar gliders co-habitating and decide you do not want them to have
joeys, then consider having the male glider neutered. Spaying is not presently a good option
for females, but male neutering can be done quickly, safely and effectively.
Now here's a helpful insider tip for you. Let's suppose your sugar gliders had joeys and you
want to find them good homes. Do not name them! Once you name them, you will never let them
leave. Ooops, you already named them? If you do keep the offspring, it is
very important to understand that you cannot keep babies with the parent gliders forever, unless all males are
neutered. Sugar gliders will breed to their own offspring given the opportunity.
While we are on this topic, you should also be aware that male and female siblings
cannot be housed together as they too will try to breed upon maturity. This sort of close lineage inbreeding
can lead to a number of serious health issues for the offspring of closely related parents.
Arnold: What's a Potty? And why do you want me to use it?
By Arnold (with a little help from Debbie)
O Boy, O Joy .. how happy is me! I didn't get bumped this month and I am soooooo happy me
wants to spin my Wodent Wheel wight off its spindle ... yuk yuk yuk yuk.
But before I delve into potty stuff, I wanna tell ya about my ole friend Dr. C and what she
did this week. Hehehehehe. She stops by me house the other day and she has two of my very
distant cuzzins with her. In Australia, we call these our relatives from the land up over ...
get it ...we from down under... Hehehehehe ... ooooohhhhheee I am an excessively silly and
giddy suggie today! OK, so here's the scoop. Dr. C comes by with these two North American
opossum babies with her. If ya wanna peek at them, you can click here:
Anywho, did ya know that we are really distant cuzzins and that they are the only
critters in North America that have babies from a pouch just like my mom did?
They're not bad looking little tykes, but me doubts they'll ever grow up to be so cute like me.
Bark ... Bark!
Lisa and Debbie gets lots o peoples asking them if us suggies can be potty trained.
To that I say Potty Schmotty! Now do you think my free range relatives have these potty thingys up in
treetops? Let me try and 'splain a few things here. Animals that tend to live most of
their lives on the floor of the forest will pick a place to "go" so they don't mess up their house.
Us gliders and other animals that live in the high rise spaces of the forest have a powerful
force of nature on our side. It's called gravitee. What gravitee does is makes it so that
us animals who are higher up in the social circle of the forest don't have to worry about
housekeeping. You see, when we go, our stuff gets gravitee'd to the forest floor and now it's
the ground dwellers problem. Humans are ground dwellers, so you humans have an
instinctual need to be concerned with potty stuff.
Now that I've shared some of the secrets of nature with you, allow me to tell you a few things
about glider personalities that might help you humans deal with our lack of potty finesse a
bit better. First off, baby sugar gliders (joeys) seem to just eat, sleep and poop a lot.
Lisa told me even baby humans are like this so me guesses it's just a baby thing.
When us sugar gliders get a bit older, we start to realize that when we have to "go", its probably best
not to go in our sleeping pouch or nest boxes, cause it leaves stinky stuff in the place where
we sleep, so we do become more selective about the going process.
Also, whenever I just wake
up, I have to go really bad. Sometimes I go a couple of times then I don't have to go again
for several hours. If I am out and about with Lisa helping her with important things
during the day, sometimes I get the urge to go while I'm in my travel pouch.
Lisa says I start squirming like a two year old, whatever that means.
Anywho, Lisa will take me out of my pouch and put me on a paper towel. I've come to learn that she is much happier if I relieve
myself on the paper towel instead of her blouse. So over time we've kind of worked things out between
the two of us. But if Lisa is ignoring me and I gotta go, guess what?
I just go. So if this kind of thing really bothers you, then pay attention, OK?
Me and my suggie friends will try and cooperate if we can, but it's really not our nature
to be so picky about go spots.
Now, one last thing. When we do go, we make little hard #2's similar to a mouse turd.
Not that I know how mice go, but that's what Debbie said I had to say. And when we go #1, well
you know what that is like already. Debbie says I have to tell you that boy sugar
gliders go more than girl sugar gliders when it comes to #1. That's cause boys will sometimes use
their #1 to mark stuff they like and if your suggie likes you, well guess what, he will leave
you a nice little surprise. If you don't like your sugar glider marking you that way,
maybe you should get him neuterized like me! It didn't hurt at all and I think my human friends
love me better this way. And you know me! I love to be loved!
OK now ... gotta "go"! See ya next month!
- Arnold, CEG (Chief Executive Glider)
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On... Hind Leg Paralysis
By Dr. C., of course!
This month's topic concerns hind leg paralysis, which is most often a nutritionally based
deficiency involving calcium, phosphorus and/or Vitamin D. Sometimes it is referred to as
metabolic bone disease. Metabolic bone disease is not really a single disease but a term used
to describe many types of medical disorders affecting bones, in animals and humans.
The most common type of metabolic bone disease affecting sugar gliders is known as nutritional
secondary hyperparathyroidism. Hind leg paralysis only describes one of the signs noticed by
keepers of sugar gliders, but is not really a disease in and of itself. I will try to
keep the technical nature of this description to a minimum. However, I think it important that you
understand this is a complicated disease with a variety of symptoms and possible root causes.
First off, the parathyroids are glands located near the thyroid glands. These glands produce
parathyroid hormone. This hormone effects the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D
by the bones, kidneys and intestines.
Animals (including humans) need calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D in specific balances to remain
healthy. These chemicals are important for many functions in the body, not just for bones and
Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism results from a deficiency in dietary calcium, an
improper balance of calcium to phosphorus in the diet, too much dietary phosphorus, and/or a
shortage of Vitamin D. If calcium concentrations in the blood are too low
(hypocalcemia), the parathyroid gland produces excess parathyroid hormone.
This causes calcium to be removed from the bones to correct the low calcium levels in the blood.
When calcium is removed from the bones they become weak and are more likely to break.
Hypocalcemia can also cause the nervous system to become more excitable. This in turn causes
muscle tremors, tetany. and sometimes convulsions. It can also cause a generalized weakness,
lethargy and lack of appetite.
Things become more complicated bio-chemically when we consider the roles played by Vitamin D
and phosphorus. Vitamin D has a major effect on increasing calcium absorption from the
intestinal tract. Now for the sake of keeping an extremely complicated process
simple, suffice it to say that through transitional phases in the body, Vitamin D ultimately aids in
the absorption of calcium through a series of reactions in both the liver and the kidneys.
It is through the transformation of Vitamin D that calcium is able to properly absorb.
Without Vitamin D in the diet, calcium is an element that is relatively
insoluble and difficult for the body to use.
When choosing foods to feed your sugar glider, you should note the nutritional analysis
on the food label or research other sources of available information on fresh foods offered.
In addition to ensuring that calcium levels are sufficient in your pet's diet, you should
also note the phosphorus levels. Here's a link we found that provides this
information for a select group of fresh foods:
Phosphorus is an element that is easily absorbed by the intestines, but it can combine
with calcium to form calcium phosphate compounds that are not absorbed, but excreted in
the feces. This process is especially prevalent if excess calcium is present.
Elevated levels of phosphorus can also negatively effect the proper transformation of Vitamin D into
a usable form, due to the effects of excessive phosphorus on the production of parathyroid
hormone. I wish to reiterate here that I am taking some liberties to condense and
simplify very complex bio-chemical functions to emphasize a point. Too much dietary phosphorus ultimately
inhibits the effectiveness of the body to absorb and utilize calcium in a manner supportive
to good animal health.
As a sugar glider owner, it is important that you understand that a well balanced diet is
critical to your pets long term health. One of the components of a good dietary plan will
include provisions for proper amounts and ratios of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D in the
foods that your glider eats. You want to maintain a positive calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Metabolic bone disease develops over time from extended poor feeding habits.
If you begin to see signs of tremors, weakness, paralysis or lethargy, see your veterinarian immediately.
Often when symptoms such as these present, the disease may be in a late stage and immediate
treatment will be prescribed. Your glider may require aggressive treatment to reverse the
effects of nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. This may include diagnostics such as
blood work and/or radiographs, hospitalization, calcium and/or vitamin injections, fluids,
oral calcium and a diet change.
Remember, prevention is the best medicine and feeding your sugar glider a healthy diet will
ward off many unwelcome conditions.
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
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