GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2002

GliderVet #5: Sugar Glider Introductions, Glider Wound Care

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
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Hi Gang! Lisa here! Welcome to our May issue of the GliderVet
Newsletter. For all of you who have been sending e-mails asking about Sydney Sesame, well, she is fully weaned now and just moved into her full size cage. She is doing fantastically well and we all thank you for your concern and interest in her story. If you don't know about Sydney's dramatic entrance to this world, you can read all about her by clicking here.

In this issue we will cover a rarely discussed topic concerning sugar glider bite wounds and abscesses. It is an event that can sometimes occur while sugar gliders are breeding and Dr. C. will discuss causes, symptoms, and general treatment of scratches, wounds and abscesses. We have seen this event predominantly amongst female gliders, but similar inflictions can happen to male gliders as well. If your sugar gliders are breeding, it's a difficult situation to prevent, but it is important that you recognize the situation as quickly as possible to begin appropriate treatment as abscesses can progress ultimately causing blindness, and in severe situations death.

But before we get to Dr. C.'s feature article, Arnold wants to get his two cents in as he believes he has some very philosophical additions to Dr. C.'s April article concerning appropriate sugar glider housing and environmental enrichments. We all know how smart sugar gliders are. Can your sugar glider answer the question "Zen or Feng Shui?" Read on to see what Arnold thinks about his cage setup.

I just want to remind everybody that this newsletter is intended to express the wishes of the whole sugar glider community. We thank Donna, Darcy and Lucy for sharing their views on what us humans can learn from our sugar gliders, and encourage you 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 tidbits here.

If you ever want to find earlier issues of GliderVet News, you can access our archives 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. If you are looking for sugar glider tested and approved products, check out our ever expanding store here.

We have a lot of new and fun products released to the store this month. Check out our high quality sugar glider T-shirts, and the apple and strawberry shaped playhouses. Under the "you asked for it" category, for the very ambitious ones out there building your own cages, we have added no-cage starter kits. We also have some really delicious treats … I know cause I actually tried them! And if your sugar gliders are a bit odiferous (a SunCoast coined word for stinky), be sure to try out Glider Glo!

Frequently Asked Question:
How do I go about introducing new sugar gliders?

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By Lisa & Debbie (see also Extreme Introductions here)

During the course of a normal day here at SunCoast Sugar Gliders, we have the opportunity to speak with and e-mail with lots of people who are just beginning to research sugar gliders as pets. Many people are inclined to get just one sugar glider so they "can see how it goes first" and then intend to add a second glider later on. If you have had the opportunity to deal with us one on one, then you know that we will do our best to discourage you from this decision. As you get to know more about sugar gliders, you will discover that they are much happier with a companion.

A lot of people that we have the opportunity to correspond with approach us because they have a single glider and have come to realize that their glider would be much, much happier with a buddy around. There are issues, however, that must be considered before you just go out, get another glider, and put them in a cage together.

Sugar gliders are territorial, so bringing a new glider into an established glider's domain can lead to stress and fighting. Here is a typical scenario we encounter. Mr. Human calls and says "I have a one year old sugar glider and I really think my glider needs a buddy. Do you have any babies ready to go to new homes?"

Well, you see, its just not that easy. Usually when you deal with a sugar glider breeder, the only sugar gliders that are normally available are babies. And you can't just bring a baby home and put it in with a full-sized glider. If the established glider decides it wants to "defend the territory", a baby will not stand a chance in that encounter. Sugar gliders can react quickly and at times fiercely towards intruders. Baby sugar gliders are incapable of protecting themselves if the established glider does attack.

So let's run through a couple of different situations and what you can do to handle the introductions properly. First of all, getting two joeys (babies) at the same time or close to the same time is by far the easiest situation. Joeys tend to accept each other pretty quickly. If the joeys are 8-10 weeks OOP (Out of Pouch), you can expect a fairly quick and painless process to ensue.

We suggest you introduce the joeys to each other outside of the cage, under your control, and on neutral territory. In almost every instance, they will take to each other like bees and honey! If any signs of possible fighting are observed, then you will need to set up separate cages and take the introductions a bit slower.

Set the cages side by side, but not close enough that they can reach each other. On a nightly basis, swap their sleeping pouches or nest boxes so they become familiar with each other's scent. You are likely to observe that they will begin to "talk" to each other. Every day or two, try introducing them outside of the cage until they "connect". Once they realize that this could be the beginning of a lovely relationship, you may want to put them in a neutral cage to let them start off on brand new turf together. You can create the neutral cage by sterilizing the cage you intend to use and its contents so the predominant scent of no one glider is established.

Now let's suppose that you have an older female and want to bring in a young joey to eventually become your female's companion. You will want to start with two cages as described above. Let the joey acclimate to you and the new environment before beginning the introductions. We also recommend that you let the joey fill out and grow closer to full size before beginning the introductions. Proceed in the same manner as described above by switching sleeping pouches and beginning the introductions outside of the cage. Introducing either a male or female joey to an older female should be handled in this way.

OK, now we are starting to get into more difficult territory - older males. You have an older male and you want him to have a companion. You've found a breeder that has male and female baby joeys. Older male sugar gliders are the most likely to show aggression and territory defense activities. If he is an alpha male, he may never accept another male as a suitable companion. However, if you bring in a female, it is very important that the female be at the age of maturity before you should begin introductions. Reason? The male will try and breed the female whether she is ready or not. This could cause severe injury or worse to the female.

Now to complicate the situation, female sugar gliders do not show the outward signs of maturity that males do. So exactly defining that age of maturity for females is quite difficult. It has been our experience that females can mature anywhere from six months OOP to almost two years. In general, most female gliders are capable of reproduction at around 9-10 months OOP age. Do not despair, however! There is a solution to introducing older males to new companion animals. If you neuter the older male, then you can generally follow the same general guidelines that we discussed earlier on introducing older females to new companion animals.

But, you might say, I really wanted to experience sugar gliders breeding. This can still be accomplished by bringing in same age younger male and female gliders and creating a trio of one neutered male, one intact male and one female. Just ask Arnold! He lives in a colony of four sugar gliders. If you want to learn more about setting up sugar glider trios or quartets, stay tuned for a future edition of the GliderVet Newsletter!

What Humans Can Learn by Keeping Sugar Gliders!
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Submitted by Donna, Lord Darcy, and Lucy

· Get enough sleep.
· Stay active to keep fit.
· Don't be afraid of insects.
· If you love someone, let them know.
· If you're crabby you won't get smooches.
· Chew your food thoroughly.
· If you don't like it, spit it out.
· Never walk when you can leap joyfully.
· Keep yourself well-groomed.
· Cute is OK but cute and charming will get you anything you want.
· Enjoy simple things.
· Climb as high as you can.
· Explore new things.
· Love without loss of independence.
· Be wary of strangers but willing to make friends.
· Never trust a cat.
· Mark what's yours.
· Make daring leaps.
· Take time to sit still and listen.
· Let people hold you.
· Sleep soundly.
· Don't always answer when you're called.
· When you get a massage, close your eyes, lay back and savor it.
· If you want something, reach for it.
· Keep your toenails trimmed.
· Play with toys.
· Few things in life are as fun as snuggling with the ones you love.
· Loneliness is bad.
· It's okay to be a night person.
· Wake up when YOU want to. Don't let others dictate your schedule.
· Don't trust unless the trust is earned.
· When you trust, do so wholeheartedly.
· Be proud of your bald spot, it's a sign of manliness.
· Never go to bed mad.
· Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.
· If it's mine, I'll share. (Unless it's really good).
· Have a safe spot you can run to in times of trouble.
· Life's too short to worry about table manners.
· Family is important!

Zen or Feng Shui?
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By Arnold (with a little help from Debbie)

During the day, as I'm sound asleep and dreaming peacefully, sometimes I ponder my blessed little life. And now that I'm getting older and wiser, new questions and ideas come to me that I've never before considered. I've taken to reading lately, did you know that? My humans think it so cute when I'm out playing, and one of my favorite places to play is by the bookshelves. They think I'm just playing, but I'm reading and learning and expanding my mind.

For example, a copy of last month's newsletter was sitting on the end table, and I was sitting on it and pondering. Ooops, didn't mean to go potty there, but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go….. hehehehe …

Anywho, I was reading Dr. C's article about environmental enrichment, and I got to pondering that environmental enrichment is important to humans, too. I really wanted to discuss more of this with Dr. C., but she didn't visit me very much lately cause she was saving sea turtles from dangermint … I'm not sure what this dangermint stuff is about, but I hope it stops soon so Dr. C. can help me re-arrange my digs.

One night as I prowl the bookshelves, I knock this book over and its about this stuff called Eastern philosophy. It's about environmental enrichment for humans … and it says stuff like environmental enrichment leads to enrichment of the spirit … so me sets me sights on becoming an enlightened glider.

First I read about this Zen stuff … which lost my interest quickly … cause it's about sparse surroundings and austerity, neither which suit me. What do I look like? Some kind of desert dwelling, lone ranger? Nope … nosirreee … Zen is not for me!

So then there's this other stuff called Feng Shui … or as I say .. Feng Shway … now this stuff sounds pretty hot. If you arrange your surroundings just so, you get lightened … ha ha … I'm on to something. So I get with my humans and try me best to explain my desires to reach the lightenmint.

Now it goes like this … I want my sleeping pouch on the South Wall of my cage … nearest to the mother land (Australia), so I can connect to my roots. And I want branches, spaced flawlessly for flowing movement. And I want my ropes draped neatly right to the opening of my Wodent Wheel. This is Feng Shway … you get it!

I want my home facing away from direct sunlight and not too close to vents and drafts cause they could blow away my aura. I want perches placed squarely in front of my water bottle. I want toys hung multi-level in many places, but not cluttered, mind you. OK, now the best part of all is my own concept. This involves placing food bowls on every wall of the cage …. I call this my Feng Schway Buffet! Yuck yuck yuck! See ya next month for more lightenmint!

Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On...
Scratches, Bite Wounds and Abscesses
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By Dr. C., of course!

Sugar gliders are extremely social animals, however, they sometimes "play" rough. Bite wounds and scratches are very common amongst community living gliders. These can occur because of dominance behavior (i.e. fighting over territory or hierarchal order amongst themselves) and often between males and females during courtship and mating.

Scratches typically are not too severe but must be watched closely and treated at the first sign of infection. Signs to watch for are swelling, redness, lack of limb use or odor. If your pet is scratched, gently clean the area with warm water using a clean washcloth or gauze pad and pat dry. Do not apply over the counter antibiotic ointment, as this can be ingested if licked by the glider or cage mates. Antibiotic ointments sometimes contain corticosteroids, which we don't want to use. Ointments can also foul the fur, which in turn causes the glider to lick or chew at the wound. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian.

The primary exception to scratch seriousness involves the eyes. Any injury to the eye needs to be seen as soon as possible by your veterinarian. A scratch on the eye usually involves the cornea. An insult to the cornea, besides being painful, allows harmful bacteria into the eye. This can lead to severe infections and possible loss of vision or loss of the eye itself.

In severe cases, your veterinarian may have to perform a procedure known as enucleation, or removal of the eye from its socket. If your sugar glider's eye has been injured, an opthamalic ointment or drop may be required. The vet will decide what type is needed based on a fluorescein stain test and examination. The glider may need to be sedated to facilitate a full exam.

Bite wounds tend to be more serious because when a bite occurs, underlying tissue is punctured allowing a deeper penetration of bacteria from the aggressor's mouth and teeth. If the wound occurs in the chest, back, abdomen or limbs, gently clean the area with warm water using a clean washcloth or gauze pad. If actively bleeding, apply digital pressure. Due to the increased chance of infection, a bite wound needs immediate veterinary attention. Again, do not apply any first aid cream or ointment, even those sold for animals, until examined by your vet.

If a bite wound occurs near the eye or the face, you will want immediate treatment for your glider. Let the veterinarian clean the area and treat as needed. Facial wounds near the eye require very special care and it is easy to cause worse trauma if done incorrectly.

Sometimes bite wounds or scratches are not noticed when they first occur, but several days later you might observe a bump or swelling. It may feel hard and/or have soft areas on it. This is an abscess. The wounded area has filled with bacteria, white blood cells, and debris, otherwise known as pus. These need to be treated by your veterinarian. Typically the abscess will be lanced, flushed with an antibiotic solution, and then oral antibiotics will be prescribed for 7 to 10 days. An antibiotic injection may be given at the beginning of the treatment. Your glider will need to be sedated for this procedure.

If the infection fails to resolve or if it is very severe at the beginning, your veterinarian may perform what is known as a culture and sensitivity. Basically material is taken from the abscess and sent to a lab, where the specific bacteria living in the wound are grown for observation. The bacteria are exposed to various antibiotics. In this manner, a determination is made on which antibiotic will be most effective against that particular infection. Different bacteria require different antibiotics. If an infection is resistant, it must be targeted with specific medication.

It is important to remember that if your glider has a wound or abscess, no matter how sweet the personality, it is in pain and may bite. It is important to protect yourself. You may want to wear gloves or let your veterinarian clean even the smallest scratches. Any bite wound you receive can also become infected, so if you are bitten, I urge you to take necessary precautions for your health.

As always, it is very important to practice good cage hygiene, especially if your glider is recovering from an infection. Things can't be kept too clean. And please, use the full dose of medication as prescribed by your vet, even if the glider appears to be better. Antibiotics must be taken for the full course and consistently each day as prescribed. The medicine would not have been given if it wasn't needed for health.

Last but not least, you may have to separate sugar gliders from companions in accordance with your vet's instructions. This may be necessary for the full course of treatment as sometimes the companion animals will try and over clean a wound, making the recovery process slower or even exasperating the situation.

I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I'll see you again next month!

Dr. C.

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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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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