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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the October edition of the GliderVet News.
This month we are covering a potpourri of topics direct from the mail bag! Do you use fly traps or sticky traps in your home? Be careful. In the process of getting rid of pesky pests, you may be putting your sugar glider in the danger zone. Read on to find out how Muff got in trouble and how her human handled a very scary situation.
When I was first contacted by Muff’s Mom, I got the shivers. Do you know why sugar gliders shiver? We’ll talk a bit about that as well. Also in our lineup this month is a cool decorating tip for those of you who have solid roof cages and have been challenged on how to hang toys from the top of the cage. We’ll wrap up with a brief look at the difference between exotic and wild animals.
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.
My Glider Got in Glue! What do I do?
I had one of my gliders out this morning playing. I have a fly / gnat glue strip because the gnats are so bad from the fruits. Anyway you probably know where this is going. She (Muff) was running and jumped off of me onto the strip. I got her off and tried to wipe her down but she was freaked out. I put her back in the cage and she tried to clean herself and didn’t seem to be sticking to anything. I don’t believe there was any insecticide in the glue but not sure.
I guess my question is will the glue hurt her? I am so worried. And MAD at myself for having the strip there. Needless to say I threw it away. These sugar gliders are my pride and I have cried about this. Please give me advice.
S. P. in Oklahoma.
Obviously, I never like getting messages or phone calls like this. It is a shame that pet stores and online retailers sell sticky traps for use around pet cages. Particularly when dealing with active “three dimensional” animals like sugar gliders, no place is off limits to their reach. And your sticky trap may very well “catch” animals other than what you are trying to get rid of.
There are two primary types of sticky traps. There are the types that you hang to capture flying insects and there are the type that are used on the floor to capture rats / mice. We’ve heard of both types becoming hazards to sugar gliders and not all stories have a happy ending like Muff’s.
If your glider does have the unfortunate experience of contacting a glue style trap, you will need to assist to get the glue off. The best process we know of is a two part procedure.
In Muff’s case, we suggested that Muff’s mom clean the glue off with baby oil. Then to clean the oil off, Muff’s Mom found some all natural baby wipes that worked well.
This is no easy task. It is stressful for the glider and in the process of cleaning a glider exposed to glue, you may end up with a few scratches and bites, particularly if your pet is not well bonded yet. But we feel it is imperative that you get all the glue off your critter as soon as possible because having glue on the fur is in itself stressful. And you do not want the animal to chew at those areas in an attempt to clean themselves, nor do you want to run the risk of the animal ingesting any of the glue material or pulling out their own fur.
If you should encounter such a situation and are uncomfortable handling the clean up on your own, see a veterinarian. Veterinarian offices are experienced in such matters. This happens more often than many of us may realize.
If you have a bug control problem, click here to read our past article on ideas to get rid of bugs around glider cages. And if you have a mouse or rat concern, you may consider using something like a Havahart live trap. Sticky traps are always a poor choice in homes where small pets reside.
Shivering: Scared, Cold, Or Normal?
I’m hooked! My granddaughter’s abandoned sugar is the sweetest thing I have ever met. I have the Zoo Food for her, done the yogurt with vitamins and calcium, fresh fruits and veggies and water. And lots of the love thing for her. She crawls out of her sleeping bag right into the bonding bag to be carried for hours. I am concerned, I notice she seems to shiver when I first touch her. Is she just getting her motor started, or is there something I should worry about?
Thank you, Sugar Grandma Jo
Hi Granny Jo! Sounds like you are very much on the right track! Before I get to your main question, I would like to say I’m glad that you’ve taken over this responsibility. Most kids don’t have enough time for gliders. I really see them more as an adult companion and you may also consider getting your new pal a buddy, as it is more in tune with their true nature.
I like the way you describe the shaking thing - that is a good and accurate description of them getting their motor started.
Here’s what I can share from my experience about shaking/shivering. Arnold’s play time is almost always at night. But now and then I’ll have someone over who is just dying to meet Mr. Arnold, so I wake him up for a short visit. He will shiver for a brief period of time, which makes me feel like a good quick shiver is similar to our desire to stretch and yawn when we wake up. I suppose we all need a way to get the old motor going.
I also feel like baby gliders may get a bit shivery when first meeting new people, because the “shiver” time of unbonded gliders seems to last a bit longer than a bonded glider's shiver time. So it seems logical that there is some fear factor going on, as well as getting the motor started. And not all of my bonded gliders shiver when woken, only some of them.
Now another reason we may guess that a sugar glider may shiver is because they are cold. I do not get the sense that gliders shiver when cold. My experience with gliders who get cold is that they get very lethargic and rather still. We are very careful with climate control in all of our glider spaces, and if we have a cold glider, there is usually something wrong.
Very young gliders do not regulate their own body temperatures well, so if the parents leave them for too long, the joeys will get cold. You can feel that they are cold. Their normal body temperature is very close to ours. A normal glider temperature is 97.2 F. You are not likely to see that they are cold, because they do not seem to shiver for that reason. You will have to touch them to determine if they are really cold. Good info for this time of year as temperatures are dropping! To learn more about keeping your sugar gliders from getting too cold during the winter months, click here to read about our heating sets.
Hanging Toys from Solid Roof Cages
I have a very large, nice cage for my 3 gliders - much like your Deluxe Glider cage - and I've added rope toys, bridges, grapevine perches, Manzanita perches, etc. My question, though, is this:
A lot of the toys I buy for my fur babies from you - and yes I admit it, from other stores - come with quick links and are supposed to hang from the ceiling of the cage. Since the cage I purchased for my gliders has a roof much like the one pictured in your on-line catalog, there is no way to hang toys from the ceiling. There are no bars running across the top. I have managed to hang most of their toys, sleeping pouches, etc., from the side of their cage, or from one of their perches and/or from their Manzanita tree stand that is on the outside of their cage; as I let them out of their cage almost every night to run about in their own tiny room, it has not been a problem. However, I would like to be able to hang a couple of their toys from the ceiling if you have an answer to my question.
I have thought about drilling into the top of the cage in order to hang
toys from the ceiling - but I'm not sure if this is a wise thing to do.
So, I guess my question is: how does one hang toys from the ceiling if there are no bars running across the top of the cage?
Thanks so much. Earla
Actually this is a terrific question - and one we get asked quite a lot. We sell two such cages and the best answer I’ve heard on this actually came from one of our customers. It’s a simple and fun fix, and the idea itself becomes another enrichment/play activity for the sugar gliders. I do not recommend drilling holes, as you will damage the paint finish and may end up with exposed metal (which could rust easier). One of our brilliant customer's had this advice:
Take a plastic bowl and drill a hole in the bottom and holes around the sides. Then fasten the bowl to the roof (upside down) using the screw and washer that is already there to hold the hold the top finial in place. Then fasten plastic chains (or you could also use rope toys or branches) and run them to the sides of the cage creating a decorative “web”, affording lots of new opportunities to hang stuff from the roof area. The web itself also becomes a new play area! Isn’t that cool?!
The Difference Between Exotic and Wild Animals
I believe that sugar gliders and all wild animals are not supposed to be kept as pets. They are much happier in the wild. I’ve seen them in pet stores and they are not the sweet, friendly little animals that the pet stores and breeders want everyone to believe that they are. How can you love animals and do this?
Dear Animal Lover,
I actually love this question and think that, from the perspective of education, it is a very important topic to discuss. The point of our newsletters is to educate. And we are not afraid to share our views on topics that are deeply felt and emotionally charged.
We, too, have a great amount of passion about sugar gliders and feel that in keeping captive exotics, a huge responsibility must be accepted. We regard these responsibilities as top priorities and know there are other breeders who share our passion and concern for the well being of all captive exotics.
We also know a lot of breeders that could afford to raise their standards significantly and hope, through our process of education, that we can have an impact on the breeding industry as a whole.
Exotic is a fancy word for wild. The two words are indeed interchangeable and it is a privilege - not a right - to keep such animals. If we exercise this privilege, we should keep them in a way that best emulates their free range environment. If kept properly, they can live much longer lives in captivity than they typically would in the wild.
From the book, Exotic Animal Formulary by James W. Carpenter, the maximum reported life span for a wild sugar glider is 9 years old. This book also reports the maximum life span for captive raised sugar gliders as 15 years old. I have personally met a woman who has a glider that is 17 years old.
I have also read from various sources that over 50% of animals in the wild never make it to one year old. In good captive breeding programs, that same number should be closer to 99%. Well managed breeding programs are highly successful in raising captive bred offspring to maturity (and well beyond).
With responsible breeding comes the obligation to offer new sugar glider keepers full education on how to properly keep their new pets. We also believe that it should be a self imposed requirement to run some sort of screening process. We are aware that some breeders and pet stores have only one screening requirement and that is, do you have enough money to purchase the pet(s)? That is grossly irresponsible, in my opinion.
I also think that age matters. We do not believe that children, or even teenagers, should be the primary caretakers or “owners” of sugar gliders. A family pet, where at least one parent is directly involved, is highly preferred. After all, how can a 12 year old kid make a 15 year commitment when they don’t even know what 15 years means yet?
When participating in a “screening” process with a new potential sugar glider keeper, my bottom line is "can you make the long term commitment"? I believe that in most instances, sugar gliders who get used to a certain family of people do not necessarily adjust well by going to a new family later on in life. They are best kept as lifetime companions, which suits their nature, and we should always strive to accommodate the animal’s nature in the best way we possibly can.
We are strong supporters of the preservation of natural habitats. We are also realistic in understanding that many habitats have already been lost, and with certain species of animals, captive breeding may be the only option to keep those species from extinction. Fortunately, sugar gliders do not presently fall into that category, but that is not the case for all animals. The point is that responsible captive breeding programs have great value on several levels. We do this because we love these animals and are passionate about learning as much as we can about them - and teaching as much as we learn.
When I first got into this business, I had to ask myself some very hard questions. One of those was how do I really feel about keeping animals in cages? I’ve learned over the years that sugar gliders become quite attached to their homes. When I let my gliders out for play time, I keep the cage door open. Arnold and his three pals will typically go back to the cage on their own at some point. This is their home. This where their food, water, toys and sleeping area is. Sometimes a good run on a wodent wheel is more important to them than hanging out with me, and that’s OK. It gives me great peace knowing they are happy, living long lives and feeling the safety and security that we can all provide in our homes.
Having the opportunity to keep the company of certain pets is a gift that comes with great responsibility, but one that offers great rewards. To me, the unconditional love and connection that happens between human and critter is one of the best feelings I know. And I deeply believe that the animals benefit as well (in the right homes) by living long, safe, highly enriched lives. All domesticated animals started off as wild animals at some point in history. The longer we continue to captively breed and work with certain species, the stronger and better the human/pet connection becomes. Of course, this whole process needs to be conducted with responsibility, compassion and with the animals best interests at heart.
None of us can single handedly change that which already is, but we can work together to make that which is the best it can be and create captive environments that benefit both animal and human.
'Til next time, in good health for you and your gliders, we sign off in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures with us!
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