GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2003

GliderVet #19: Sugar Glider Product Testing, Dear Arnold, Monkey Pox

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
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Howdy Humans! Welcome to our July issue of the GliderVet Newsletter! We have a lot of stuff to cover so without further adieu, let’s take a look at what we have in store this month!

Our feature article is in direct response to last month’s media hype on monkey pox. Dr. C will give us an overview of monkey pox as it relates to sugar gliders.

But before we get to Dr. C’s contribution this month, Debbie and I will bring you a behind the scenes look at how products get tested here at SunCoast. Some organizations will just have an idea, make a product, and put it out there for the general public with little or no regard to the functionality or safety of the product for sugar gliders. Demand the best from your vendors! Your gliders’ lives depend on you to keep them safe.

And we'll be offering another exciting episode of Dear Arnold, with your nightly host of Midnight Madness, Arnold T. Schwarzenglider!

Before we get to our feature articles, 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.
Frequently Asked Question:
How does SunCoast
Perform Safety Tests on Products?
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By Lisa and Debbie

As you may recall, last month we hinted that a BIG surprise was coming soon! We hoped to be able to unveil this surprise for you this month, but we won’t release a new product until it’s the best it can be. Typically with new products, we run them through a series of tests. Arnold has a bunch of glider testers at his beck and call, and sugar glider safety is rule number one around here. We’d rather delay a new product than bring you something that we think can be better.

Now we don’t mean to tease you, but you will have to wait a bit longer for this surprise … if you truly test things and improve as you go along in the process, deadlines become meaningless in favor of quality and safety!

To give you an idea of how products are tested here, we first let Arnold check it out. Arnold is clever and if something can be ripped up, taken apart, or otherwise destroyed, he’s the man for the task.

As most of you know, Arnold’s middle initial “T” stands for tripod. He lost his back foot due to a product testing event …. to read more about that story, click here. To further stress that point, here’s a actual question we received through an email this month on pouches: “Why do they say to use pouches? I ask because mine ate a hole in the lining and then got hung in the threads and died. What can I use now that is safe?”

Unfortunately, we receive quite a lot of email from individuals who lost gliders due to poorly developed products. The moral of the story is that while pouches may look similar (particularly with online shopping), don’t assume that all pouches are created equally! There are many important attributes that go into building the best pouch, including fabric type, thread type, seam type, and hardware metal.

Once a product gets past Arnold’s strenuous tests, we select a random group of our glider volunteers here at SunCoast and try the product with them. Depending on the nature of the product, testing can run from several weeks to several months. Our "surprise product" has been “in the works” for nearly a year and a half!

If the product is a truly unique concept, we then solicit independent volunteers from the glider community. If any of the reviewers have suggestions to make this product better or safer, we will incorporate those suggestions into the final version before its made available to the general public.

In case you are wondering how the independent testers are selected, it’s quite simple. The selected all wrote in with similar questions relative to the product under review. So instead of simply answering a question for these folks, we hope to offer a real solution to their problem! If the product passes the scrutiny of this independent group, then Arnold will stamp it with his seal of approval and will subsequently offer it on his online boutique.

Once all of these steps are completed, we then contract with an independent manufacturer to actually make the products, ensuring consistency in presentation and quality are well managed by professional fabricators. It’s the least that our sugar gliders deserve.

Most products that we consider and review ultimately do not make it through the complete process and as a result, will never end up in Arnold’s store. About 75% of the products we look at are rejected for some reason. Safety is our number one objective.

As gliders are relatively new and still considered quite unique in the pet industry’s eyes, don’t assume that it’s necessarily safe (or useful) for gliders just because it’s good for another type of animal. For example, we are aware that a lot of people use ferret stuff for sugar gliders. But ferrets are significantly larger than gliders, so most of the ferret products are too oversized for glider use.

Testing is an ongoing process here at SunCoast and we hope that you better understand why the "Arnold Seal of Approval" is only awarded after a product proves its worthiness.
Another Exciting Episode of DEAR ARNOLD
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By Arnold

Note: Some of Arnold’s fan mail may be edited cause Arnold wants some of them to be shorter so he can have more space all to himself! Yuk Yuk Yuk!

Dear Arnold,
While bonding, I want to do most of it when they are sleepy or sleeping (especially when they do that thing where they stand
on their back legs and crab). One web site said to completely leave them alone when they do that.
Steve

Dear Steve-O,
You asked me opinion so here it is! Ignore the website that says ignore the gliders! Now think about this me friend. Us suggies aren’t capable of emotions like hate or dislike! We tends to feel more things like trust, fear, love, fear, attachment, fear …gets me drift?! Yer suggies are SCARED of you! So if you ignore them, then who’s doing any bonding? Methinks no one!

So when they stand on back legs and start crabbing, just remember they are scared of you. If you just ignore them when they behave that way, then they are learning they can keep you (the big scary human) away by acting like that! So if you want to make friends, then comfort those scared little babies and they'll come to trust you!
Happy Bonding! Your friend, Arnold

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Dear Arnold,
I trim my little one's nails while he is sleepy...he knows I'm doing it
but is sleepy so he just hides his face and lets me do it....it seems a
less scary than grabbing him in a towel :)
Heather

Hi Heather!
You bring up an excellent point and one we failed to mention in last month’s newsletter ... we completely agree with your comment and it's something we always do ... trim during the day while sleepy.
Something else to remember is each glider is so different. Me fellow housemate glider, Sydney Sesame, loves to have her feet played with. But she will not, under any circumstances allow Lisa to trim her nails. She will let Lisa file them though! Hehehehe! Thanks for the great tip Heather! You’re cool!
Your admirer,
Arnold

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Dear Arnold,
G'day you little cutie! I have a question regarding glider-at-rest behavior. When I have my little guys in their pouch and we're lounging around and reading e-mails and such, I can hear them making a little clicking sound. The best way I can describe it is like an old fashioned percolating coffee pot. When I open the pouch to see what the heck they're doing, all I get is 3 pairs of "innocent" eyes looking at me as if to say, "What? Us? We're not doing anything! You must be hearing things." Can you shed any light on this mysterious sound for me ?
Much Love,
Emily and her Furkids:
Khalila, Merlin and Houdini

Dear Emily,
I’m not so sure that I should give away all of Khalila, Merlin and Houdini’s secrets … yuk yuk yuk …. perhaps some things that gliders do in the privacy of their own pouch is their bizness! Hehehehehe.

But I can tell you this, us suggies make a whole range of vocalizations. We don’t just crab and bark, we click as you’ve noticed. And we also make a sound that you humans think sounds like sneezing (we do this a lot when we are cleaning ourselves). When I start waking up with my habitat mates Buddy, Janine and Naomi we start making zzzzzzppp sounds … mommy trees call us the zippers when we do that. Suggie language is so-fisticated! But I’m sure in time you will learn what we are saying! Clicking is good … they're just having a little glider chat amongst their own clique.

Special encoded message to Khalila, Merlin and Houdini … click click, zzzzpp, zzz, zzzpppp zzz, bark! And to you Emily! Ta Ta … I’m off now to get more in touch with my inner beast!
Your confidante,
Arnold

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Well, That’s all Blokes! Tune in again next month for another exciting episode of Dear Arnold! Don’t forget, you can share your short comments or fun questions with me by clicking here.
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C says .... on Monkey Pox
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By Dr. C., of course!

In the spirit of trying to provide timely information, I thought it appropriate this month to jump on the big news band wagon and briefly discuss monkey pox as it relates to sugar gliders. The news media has covered this topic extensively in the last month and at launch date of this newsletter the news is already dying down, yet still worthy of discussion.

First and foremost, let me assure you that I am not aware of any cases of sugar gliders carrying the monkey pox virus. This is not to imply it can’t happen, we just haven’t seen any cases of it happening.

Secondly, if you have purchased your sugar gliders from a breeder who only deals with captive raised animals, and those are the only animals handled by that breeder, then there is virtually no chance of contracting monkey pox. This is also to assume that your breeder has never been involved in importation of animals, nor deals with animal importers.

It is very important that you know where your animals come from, be it sugar gliders, prairie dogs, gambian giant rats or any other exotic variety. Pet stores may breed their own sugar gliders, buy direct from a breeder, or buy direct from a distributor (broker).

Animal brokers will often handle a variety of animals such as sugar gliders, ferrets, prairie dogs, reptiles, hamsters, mice, gerbils etc. This means that all animals are likely to be at least temporarily housed in close quarters, transported in a single vehicle and have a lot of opportunity to come into contact with each other. It is this very issue of multi species contact that leads to the spread of viruses like monkey pox. Not only can animals contract disease from other animals, but some of these diseases can spread to humans as well.

For the sake of safety, you should be certain where you animals originate. I think it only wise to avoid situations like flea markets and animal auctions as sources for pets. I urge you to exercise cautious judgment when procuring pets from pet shops or animal trade fairs. The opportunity for cross infection increases as animals are exposed to larger varieties of foreign species.

Let’s examine the monkey pox situation and a possible scenario for why this may have happened. An animal distributor in Illinois housed prairie dogs in cages nearby gambian giant rats. The prairie dogs are native to the U.S. and the gambian rats are native to Africa. When you have animals together that originate from different regions of the world, the animals may not carry the same immunities to disease. Due to exposure to the African rats, some of the prairie dogs became infected and this likely spread to other prairie dogs housed at this facility. The distributor placed infected prairie dogs in various pet shops, thus exposing other animals and people to the virus.

One of the reasons I think that the news is already dying down is primarily due to the rapid action that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) initiated in tracking down all animals that left the original infected facility. From what I understand, all animal distributors that handle prairie dogs were inspected within the first week of the news of an outbreak by the CDC and backed up by officials from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). As I heard one person state it, the whole government alphabet was on task to contain this outbreak.

There is also an airline embargo in effect prohibiting transport of prairie dogs and any animals in the rodent family that originate from Africa. Sugar gliders have not been affected by this embargo, nor do we anticipate that they will be.

Here a few tips I’d like to share when considering bringing exotic pets into your home:

Best case scenario is to find a breeder that specializes in that animal and only that animal. This should include information that verifies that the breeder is selling only animals captively raised by their operation. In other words, no animals are purchased from “wholesale” sources for resale by the breeder, nor are the animals freshly imported for resale to the consumer market. An example of this type of breeder would, of course, be SunCoast.

Your second best choice would be to find a breeder that you trust has good breeding practices, but they might handle some other animals as well. And as stated above, all species handled by this breeder are captively raised by their operation and not commingled with species brought in from other sources.

If you choose to purchase from a pet shop, find out where the sugar gliders came from. If the pet shop is running their own small breeding program, this may be a suitable option. If the pet shop is buying from a local breeder, I would try and find out some information about the quality of that breeding program. And if the pet shop is working through an animal distributor/broker, I think this is your worst choice in procuring a quality pet.

I am not personally a fan of pets being sold in large marketplaces like flea markets, trade shows, and animal auctions. The animals I’ve often seen in these environments are stressed, get overly handled by the public, and are exposed to far too many animals and people in a short period of time. These type of entities may also just “disappear” once the event is over leaving you with little or no support. Many people see pets in these environments and fall in love with a critter because its so “cute” or feel it needs “rescuing”. These type of markets pray on the spontaneous purchase with no regard to proper education and may be the highest risk for carrying various diseases! Generally, they people have a human-centric, hamster-like approach to caring for sugar gliders that won't kill them, but won't make them very happy either. We call this the Thrive versus Survive issue.

Tune back in next month for a brand new topic. These topics are driven by your requests, so send your questions about glider health care issues here and we will do our best to include in a future edition of the GliderVet Newsletter.

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

Dr. C.
(Janine M Cianciolo, DVM)

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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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