GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2005

GliderVet # 37: Breeding Gliders Via Stud Service, Dear Arnold, Tsunami in Indonesia

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
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Bonjour Mes Amis!

Welcome to our 37th Edition of the GliderVet Newsletter. It's always fun to kick off a new year and we are thrilled to embark on our fourth year of bringing you up to the minute sugar glider news. When we first started this venture, we wondered if there would be enough to really talk about to keep this going long and strong. Well, we get so many great questions each month, that we expect this newsletter to continue for years and years to come. We hope you will continue this journey with us and continue sharing your questions, thoughts, experiences, fun stories, and glider tails (err, I mean tales). We may not get to all questions right away, but hang in there, because all the questions that come in to us will eventually be published herein.

As we had our year end meeting to discuss plans to continue to improve our efforts, we were quite surprised to learn that our Chief Executive Glider, none other than Arnold T Schwarzenglider himself, wanted to change his name! We were all like "ruh roh", what is up with that? Well, we came to learn that Arnold takes his job as a newsglider very seriously and he felt that his name just did not create an image of a famous persona! He came up with some dumb idea to change his name to Walter Cronflight as he felt this was much more newsworthy! The good news is that Arnold has decided to stick with his original moniker, but he did have a good point in the end. All good news people tend to have a "Walter" ego. Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Moving right along, we have a fresh new lineup for you this month, starting off with my article on using male sugar gliders as studs only, with no intention of the male staying part of the family unit. We don't think it's a very good idea. Read on to see why. Next, we bring you another exciting episode of Dear Arnold, where Yer Answer Yogi will share his views, from the sugar glider perspective, on your questions and comments. Last, but not least, we've had quite a few concerned folks writing in to see if we could coordinate a fundraiser to help wildlife in Indonesia, one of the native lands of our beloved sugar gliders. Since Dr C is a dedicated wildlife rescuer, we thought it best that she respond and shares her views on what can be done to help.

Before we get started, we did want to share one more brief tidbit. And that is the best sugar glider name we heard this month: MSG (my sugar glider). So for MSG and the rest of you sugar gliders and sugar glider fans out there, let's rock and roll.

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.

Should Male Sugar Gliders Be Used As Studs?
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By Lisa

We are of the mindset here at SunCoast that when breeding sugar gliders, the male and female should cohabitate before, during and after breeding. While sugar gliders don't necessarily bond for life, there is a strong bond that develops between a breeding male and female. Let's take this point by point.

First off, there are some people that may argue that gliders do bond for life, but we can tell you from firsthand experience that sugar gliders willingly accept multiple companions during their lifetime. In our view, it only makes sense as gliders naturally live in colonies of perhaps dozen or more animals. The colonies will consist of both males and females.

When we choose to retire our female gliders, a decision that is made based on a variety of factors, we retire the females permanently. Oftentimes, we will pair the male with a new female as we believe that the male's breeding life can be safely longer than the female's. On some occasions, we will have the male neutered and keep the couple together. This decision is made when we believe deep down that these two particular gliders only have eyes for each other. But this is more the exception than the rule around here.

We have also been breeding a few colonies of our own and hope to expand our experimentation in this area. We started some colonies of two females to a male, and over the last year we began three new colonies of four females to one male. Our goal is to see if we can keep colonies intact longer, expecting the female's breeding life is longer in a colony as they seem to naturally have fewer offspring.

Now, the original question we hope to answer today started coming up quite a few years back. Five or six years ago, it seemed like the norm for most glider keepers was to keep single gliders. We are pleased to report that trend has changed significantly. Through excellent community efforts and education, most people now realize that sugar gliders are best kept with same species buddies as this best suits their true nature.

Those who keep single gliders have written in over the years hoping that they could have the great "joey experience" by getting together with someone else they knew that had an opposite sex glider, letting the gliders breed and then taking their respective gliders back to their own homes. This is a technique often used with dog breeding.

Our best advice is don't do it! Male sugar gliders do not merely contribute their DNA to this process. Male sugar gliders are very involved in the whole process of caring for the young. So for all of you who have asked if the male and female should be separated when joeys are visibly in the pouch, again the answer is no.

Once joeys begin to emerge from the pouch, the male sugar glider will start sharing some duties and responsibilities with the female. For those of you who've had the experience, you may notice that the female glider may wander around the habitat at night by herself. The joeys will be in the nesting area alone with the male. This is another area that we receive a lot of panic calls and questions. It is perfectly natural for the female to take some time for herself when she has young joeys. Not all females will do this, but many will take some time to stretch their legs, have a good wobust wun in their wodent wheel, have a snack without the kids hanging on her, all the while knowing her babies are back home safe with Dad!

So what exactly does Dad do to help? Well, one important issue is that when joeys emerge from the pouch, they are unable to regulate their own body temperatures and can get cold very easily. So Dad keeps the babies warm. He will also groom the babies, give them piggyback rides, and teach them social skills they need to know for later on in life.

If you choose to use a male glider simply as a stud, then you are putting a lot of extra work on the female to raise her young alone. We believe that the male's help and presence plays an important role in captivity bred sugar gliders in a way that best emulates what would happen in the wild.

There is one more very important point that we feel belongs in this topic as well. Sugar gliders are very territorial. Using gliders as studs or even getting together with your friends to let your gliders play together from time to time can be a bad and dangerous idea. As social as gliders are, think of them as tribal. Gliders who are strangers to each other may see each other as members of a "warring tribe" and could get enmeshed in a rather nasty fight. Unlike dogs who tend to socialize well with other dogs, sugar gliders do not necessarily socialize that well with other unfamiliar gliders. We've often mentioned the necessity for proper introduction procedures when bringing new gliders to the home.

To take this question of stud service one step further, we've had folks contact us who happen to be the proud keepers of some special color variety glider. We've heard that some of the color breeders move their males from cage to cage in order to perpetuate more of the coveted and rare special colors. We do not do this at SunCoast, but I thought an interesting way to accomplish this would be as follows. Now keep in mind, as I share this thought, it is mostly speculative on my part, but from some of our limited experiences, may provide a satisfactory solution. Perhaps one day, we will try this here at SunCoast.

It seems to me that it may work well to keep two side by side cages with one or two females together in each habitat with a neutered male. The "stud" colored male could theoretically be safely moved between the two habitats as the proximity between the habitats may keep him in fairly direct contact with the gliders of both colonies.

As I alluded above, we do have some limited experience in this regard. I keep six gliders as members of my family. I have three males and three females with all three of the males now neutered. I did allow Buddy to breed one time. Buddy lives with Arnold (who was previously neutered), Janine and Naomi. Buddy bred with both females and when the joeys came out of pouch, Arnold was every bit as involved with the young as the natural parents were. He was truly a great Uncle to the joeys.

It is from this experience that I've concluded that a neutered male may be quite capable of giving the care and nurturing to young joeys born to his colony in the absence of the natural father. Let's face it! The females don't deserve to do all the work on their own, so we ask that you proceed with your breeding programs in a manner that ultimately honors the nature of our fine furry friends!

If anyone has any experience related to the content of this article, we would love to hear your story. Balanced reporting is important to at least this humble media operation!
Another Exciting Episode of …. DEAR ARNOLD
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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! And now … for more "thinking outside of the pouch" advice …here's Arnold!

Dear Arnold, Lisa, and UM UM UM, and a Holy Moly,

I got the TASTE!!!! I ACTUALLY GOT THE TASTE!!!! and Out of ALL three of them tonight!!! I GOT THE TASTE!!!! I put them back in the cage and ALL THREE OF THEM GAVE ME THE TASTE!!!! (I didn't understand the taste but I absolutely understand now!!! I am so excited!!) My husband thinks I am crazed but they actually all did it!! I was trying to explain to him about the love bite with animals (unfortunately for him he is not the "animal" person" and would NEVER understand, THE TASTE!!!, but, who cares), I GOT THE TASTE. After that, I fed meal worms and they actually came to my hands and ate them. I think my family is jealous, well my husband anyhow, but WHATEVER!!! HE DIDN'T GET THE TASTE!!! I personally, am so happy for the TASTE and they ate out of my hands. I would love to cup them and let them sleep with me tonight but I will only bug them now with their new "Winny the Pooh" accessories. Okay, I am obsessive with their toys but I AM THRILLED ABOUT THE TASTE!!!!!!

Love,

Debs, Murphy, Emmy and Cassidy!!!

Dear Debs,

Wooo hooo ... you got The TASTE .. Deb-O got the TASTE! How cool is that and you just met your new suggies when you sent me this email! I so happy happy for you! And for those of you who don't know the TASTE ... it's the essence, it's the loooove, it's the reason suggie gliders become addictive to hoomans .... so stay committed to your suggies, and you too can get the TASTE!

I luv you!
Arnold

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... Help for Animals Affected by Tsunami
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by Dr. C, of course!

Many of you have written in this month asking if SunCoast Sugar Gliders could organize some sort of fundraiser for animals affected by the recent tsunami in Indonesia. As many of you already know, sugar gliders are native to Indonesia, Australia and New Guinea.

As a veterinarian and wildlife rescuer, I have seen first hand how natural disasters can impact the local wildlife. We certainly had our hands full with the high number of hurricanes in Florida this past summer and are pleased to report that we were able to rescue and rehabilitate a significant number of endangered sea species.

Lisa and I have discussed what, if anything, we could do to support efforts to help the native country of the animals we share in common. Many accounts report high human death tolls, yet few dead animals. There are varying theories on this observation. Animals may have sensed some type of climatic or barometric changes and fled the area or it is equally possible that animal corpses were buried in debris or swept out to sea.

There was one news story that I saw on television that I found of particular interest. A group of tourists were on a nature tour and riding elephants back through the terrain. Much to the tourists' displeasure, the elephants became unruly and basically stampeded for the hills with passengers still on board. The elephants sensed impending danger and while it was a rough ride for the tourists, the elephants may have saved lives that day by following their instincts and retreating to higher ground.

While we are all deeply saddened by the loss of life suffered through this event, I do not think it appropriate that SunCoast Sugar Gliders endorse their own fundraising effort as all indications are that the sugar glider population may have been quite unaffected. The long term effect may in fact be due to habitat loss directly related to the storm, but most assuredly by subsequent habitat loss which will occur as humans displaced by the storm move into otherwise pristine forests. This will not only impact sugar gliders but may affect all Indonesian wildlife. There are two organizations I currently endorse for tsunami donations:

1) The American Red Cross, which helps human victims with emergency but also long term support to help rebuild lives and communities. For more information, click here.

2) The International Sea Turtle Society. As many of you know I am actively involved in marine turtle rehabilitation. At the International Symposium last week we learned several of our Indonesian colleagues lost their lives while at their research outposts studying both turtles and other wildlife. The ISTS tsunami fund will be donating dollars directly to families of wildlife researchers affected by the storm and to efforts to rebuild wildlife research stations. For more information on the Indian Ocean Tsunami Sea Turtle Fund, click here.

It personally pleases me that so many people expressed concern for this issue. Wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release is the primary focus of my professional career, so your letters have prompted issues close to my heart. I appreciate the opportunity to share my views on this topic.

As always, 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 your request 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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