GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2003

GliderVet #21: Photographing Your Sugar Glider, Dear Arnold, Basics of Genetics

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter

Hello Mates! SGO (Sugar Glider Officer), Arnold, here! Welcome to the September issue of the GliderVet Newsletter! Methinks you hoomans enjoy hanging out as much as we suggies do, so get ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy 'cuz it's time to assume the hanging-out position! To see She-ah show us just how it's done, click here.

Lisa or Debbie usually does the introduces for ya each month, but I took me executive privilege this month 'cuz me very good pal is one of our contributors! You may know him as PepPony, but I call him Johnny V “Da Godfadder” - he is a professional photographer and a long term member of the glider community. Ya gotta be careful snapping shots of suggies 'cuz our eyeballs are so sensitive to the light, so check out this article on how to safely foto your fuzzbutts!

As if dat weren't good enuff, you get to read more from ME! Me mailbag was real full with lots of questions about the new Nail-O-Matic! So I’ll be answerin' the most popular questions in this month’s edition of “Dear Arnold”.

And last but not least, me favorite Dr. Gal Pal will present a basic overview of "Jen-eh-Ticks?" Ahem, 'scuse me, Lisa - can you help me spell this word, please?!

Arnold, Lisa here: It's G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S, you silly ole glider!

OK, thanks! Anyways, this means sumptin' about the colors of sugar gliders and what's in their jeans - ahem, I mean, genes - oh me, this is tuff stuff! Luckily, Dr. C will do all the 'splaining about genes! Oh, and since we're speakin' of such "fashionable" items like jeans, be sure to check out my brand new sugar glider charms here - you'll be charmed, I'm sure! Yuk yuk yuk!

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.
Special Contribution:
Photographing Sugar Gliders, by John Valentini

For those of you who know our special guest contributor this month, then you already know that when this man writes, he is thorough, concise, and accurate in his presentations on all things glider. John has submitted to us a very detailed, easy-to-read, novice-to-pro presentation on how to safely photograph sugar gliders. And far be it from us to take editing liberties to comply with newsletter space constraints when it comes to John’s work. So we will present John’s article as a link in this newsletter, so that you may read his complete essay as a now permanent page on the SunCoast website.

But first a bit about John, better known to the online community as "PepPony". PepPony is a former moderator and long-term member of Glider Central. He is a former administrator for the American Sugar Glider Society, a member and mediator for the Sugar Glider Trade Association, and most recently, Co-Owner/Administrator of the Worldwide Sugar Glider Network.

John is a Professional Wedding and Celebrity photographer, with a real passion for wildlife photography as another one of his many hobbies. His personal webpage contains some photos he's taken in his "spare time". And if you like big animals, be sure to check out the wildlife photos AND the NFL player photos! Click here to view.

Whether you're young or old, experienced in photography, photographically challenged, a digital shooter or film aficionado, you will certainly glean much useful information from John’s insight on photographing sugar gliders safely.

Click here for the full article and happy snapping! Thank you, John, for taking time from your busy schedule to prepare such a wonderful presentation for our newsletter subscribers!
Another Exciting Episode of DEAR ARNOLD
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 to himself! Yuk Yuk! And if you don't know what a Nail-O-Matic is, click here.

Hello Arnold!
First off, Arnold, let me just say that my gliders and myself are huge fans, and we love your section in the newsletter! Second, I was wondering about how to clean the Nail-O-Matic. You don't have any specifics on the website about that at all. I have a boy that thinks his wheel is kind of kin to a nestbox and likes to 'christen' it while he runs in it.....(sigh). So, I get to take it apart quite a bit and clean it. I just wondered how that will effect the Nail-O-Matic.

Yours in slavery,
Kara aka Gliderbuff

Dear Ms. Buff!
First off, me needs to tell ya that gliders should not get too close to fans - ya see, we don't like the drafts very much -

Arnold, Lisa here: I don't think that is what Kara means - she is a "fan" because she admires you.

Mire? Isn't that a ground dweller term? Some kinda ground goop?

Lisa: No Arnold - now listen up - it just means she thinks you're pretty cool, OK?

Cool? At this time of year in Florida?

Lisa: Arnold! She likes you! Maybe she even loves you!

Ooooooooooh! Ooops! Me sorry! Ms. Buff - I am your fan too! Now anyways, to clean your Nail-O-Matic, just soak one minute in hot water, then brush lightly with a clean toothbrush, followed by a rinse. And be sure to let it dry well before using again.

The Master of Zoom N Groom
Dear Arnold & Gang,

RE: Nail O Matic - I will just use my "Wodent TYPE Wheels" in the cage. I just found out my wheels are NOT Wodent brand. Hope Nail-O-Matic still works! My wheels certainly LOOK like 'em!


Dear Sue!

Yikes! Please do not use the Nail-O-Matic in a wheel that is not Wodent Wheel brand. My hoomans went through lots of measurements and other complicated stuff to make sure the Nail-O- Matic would fit just right. If it doesn’t fit perfectly and lay perfectly flat, then your suggies could stub their toes! Ouch!

And as a matter of factuals, the Wodent Wheel Senior has recently been redesigned and the Nail-O-Matic made for the Senior Wodent wheel is different for the new design (Modern) than it is for the old design (Classic). Puhleeeeze take me advice on this one!

Your tender hearted and tender footed pal, Arnold
Dear Arnold,

The Nail-O-Matic is such a neat idea! Does it only work in the Wodent Wheels, or does it also work in the Rowdy Reels? I've got the largest wheel, so it sounds like even if it did work, I'd need the exact specs? Are you planning on making this track for other wheels (like the Rowdy models)?

Katty M
Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Katty,

We’ve had several requests from folks interested in a Nail-O-Matic for the Rowdy wheel and here’s the inside scoop. Me Lisa has been on the ringy device with Papa Rowdy John himself. All I can say is we are workin' on it and best case scenario, it will be several months before such a product will be ready to go.

Ya know it takes time to do things right, and the Rowdy Wheel is a lot different than the Wodent Wheel, so it will have to be a Nail-O-Matic made just for the Rowdy Wheel. Then it has to pass Lisa and John’s approval, then my approval, then the approval of our designated random test gliders. So stay tuned - a definite maybe! Yuk yuk yuk!

Your fuzzy buddy,
Dear Arnold,

I use a Wodent Wheel Jr. because the Wodent Wheel Sr. won’t fit in my glider’s cage, but I really want a Nail-O-Matic. What can I do?


Dear Joe,

Holy wombat! Methinks I have an easy solution fer ya! Buy your suggies a bigger cage! Methinks any cage not big enough for a Wodent Wheel Sr. is probably too small for your glider. The smallest cage we recommend is 36 in x 30 in x 18 inches and a WW Sr. fits in there with no problemo!

Yours truly,
A T. Schwarzenglider, the “resident” expert
Hi Arnold,

I have a small dainty glider who is not able to use the SR wheel (I bought one from you and it was too heavy for her to push around). She has the Jr. version - can the insert for nails be trimmed to fit inside the Jr. wheel?


My dear Melissa,

Awe! Your little suggie sounds like a real sweetheart. Maybe I can come over and help her push the wheel around. I run sometimes with two other gliders all at one time! But I keep getting a tail in my eye! Eeeek! I think almost all the gliders in the world like Sr. best.

But a cool thing about us gliders is we are all different and unique. The Nail-O- Matic is not designed to be trimmed so it's probly not a good idea to do that. Course we can't stop ya from giving it a try, but we certainly can't be responsible for the results if you modify the product. From one scrawny glider to another, yet still larger than life!


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 about ...
Basics of Genetics
By Dr. C., of course!

Genetics is a complicated subject, but apparently has become of much interest to the sugar glider community, at least in regards to color variations available in this species. This discussion will give you a simplified historical overview of the science of genetics and how genetics influence a broad range of characteristics.

Back in the 1800’s, an Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel, discovered he could “control” the color and size of pea plants through selective fertilization. For instance, if he crossed a white flower pea plant with a purple flower pea plant, all the “baby” pea plants had purple flowers. Then if he crossed the “baby purple plants” together, the subsequent offspring had purple flowers, but also a few plants had white flowers. From this initial experimentation blossomed (no pun intended) the concepts of dominant and recessive traits.

It would be nice if genetics was actually that simple – unfortunately it is not! Animals receive the same number of chromosomes from each parent. Genes are the physical basis for all traits of an individual. Each gene has its own particular location on a chromosome and may occur in one of two or more alternative forms know as alleles. Animals have two alleles for each trait on two partner chromosomes. These may be identical or different and dominant or recessive.

OK, confused yet? It gets worse! There can be incomplete dominance, co-dominance, variable expressivity … and the list continues. Also, there are sex-linked traits and environmental effects on how genes are expressed. Let’s take an interesting digression here and look at Siamese cats. The fur on the paws, ears and tail is darker than the rest of the body. This occurs where the skin temperature is lower. “So what?” you ask. Well this variation in fur color is because these cats have a recessive gene involved in dark pigment production and the enzyme it produces is heat sensitive. In other words, it doesn’t work at warm temperatures. Therefore the rest of the cat has light colored fur.

Here’s another cool cat genetic fact for you. All calico cats are female because it’s a color expression trait that tends to be sex-linked. Aren’t cats great? (If you haven’t yet suspected, I really like cats!)

So what does all this have to do with sugar gliders? Some sugar glider breeders have begun breeding their animals for particular color types – “designer gliders”. Unfortunately this often involves what is called “line breeding”. Line breeding is inbreeding. It may be “grandpa gliders” being bred with “granddaughter gliders”, but it's still inbreeding and can carry undesirable consequences even though the desired color pattern is achieved.

I don’t want to give the impression that all dominant traits are good and all recessive traits are bad, as it’s not the case. Sometimes it’s the enzymes or associated processes that cause problems, but when family members or extended family members breed together, the chances of something “bad” or undesirable occurring increases. This is due to lack of genetic diversity. Sometimes the undesirable trait isn’t readily apparent. For instance, some albino and/or light color phase reptiles are more prone to disease. Their immune systems do not seem as hardy as animals with normal color patterns (designer reptiles comprise a large portion of the herpetological trade).

Animals have developed color patterns that “work” for them in the wild. Those that varied from the norm typically did not fare well. They were detected easier by predators, or couldn’t find mates, etc. In a captive situation, these unusually pigmented animals may do OK, but they need to be from different genetic lines. If you desire a glider with an unusual pattern, make sure it comes from a union of unrelated animals. Responsible breeders will encourage “designer” gliders by selectively breeding for color. Don’t be fooled that line breeding is the only way to produce certain looks. Selective breeding programs may take much longer to produce desired results and involve more trial and error; in my opinion, this is the most responsible approach to encouraging natural variations while maintaining genetic diversity.

Whenever breeders successfully breed for new color varieties, expect to pay big bucks. It’s just a basic matter of supply and demand. With demand for designer gliders on the rise and supply still relatively low, high prices will continue for at least some period of time. I suggest that before making such a purchase you insist on a vet exam and guarantee on the health of the animal. Also, know who you are dealing with. Make sure you are dealing with a breeder that you can trust and who will be honest about their breeding practices. It is also wise to get referrals or ask around the glider communities if you have no knowledge of your breeder. Since there are only a few breeders who are successfully color breeding at this time, it's pretty easy to get information on that breeder’s reputation.

In next month’s issue of the GliderVet Newsletter, Lisa has arranged for an interview with one of the prominent color breeders in this country. If you are interested in what the accepted color standards are presently for sugar gliders and what the going prices are, then be sure to check out the next 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 by clicking 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

SunCoast Sugar Gliders

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