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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes!
Welcome to the November 2007 edition of the GliderVet News. This month we celebrate the upcoming holiday season with messages of education and safety. We have a few new super cool and fun products to introduce, as well as some anticipated new products we’ll briefly discuss.
Before we glide in, we wish to make a short and hopefully useful announcement. Last year during the holidays, we had three different families write in with sad stories of gliders lost in rolls of holiday wrapping paper. I made myself a special note to mention it this year before the holidays. Remember, it’s best to keep your small pets away from Christmas trees, decorations, and wrapping supplies. While it may seem like a potential source for great fun, it could, in reality, end up a potential source for great sadness. These types of items are not intended for pet usage or pet safety.
OK, just one final note before really, really glidin' in. We would just like to take a moment to thank each customer, newsletter subscriber and friend in the sugar glider community for your continued patronage. Our li'l glider gang here at SunCoast Sugar Gliders wishes you and yours a happy, healthy Thanksgiving. And Arnold's Thanksgiving message? "Errrr, c'mon, Mum, let's eat already!"
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.
Candles, Incense, Colognes and Scented Soaps
OK now, tell the truth! There is at least one person on your holiday list that you intend to gift something wonderful smelling. Perhaps you’re into candles, incense, perfumes or colognes, or perhaps those pretty little fancy scented soaps. And even if this is not the type of item you traditionally gift, I bet someone out there - at some time - figured one of these objects would make the perfect gift for you. And just in case you’re interested, I love all these things. But are they safe and recommended for use around sugar gliders?
Sugar gliders are considered to have a highly developed sense of smell. It seems quite likely that their recognition of members in their colony and members of their human family are guided highly by smell. It is common in the animal kingdom that below average senses, for example vision, are often augmented by increased acuity in the other sense organs. In the case of sugar gliders, it is thought that their sense of smell and sense of hearing are quite advanced, as compared to our own.
What does this mean in the scheme of things? Should you never burn candles around gliders? Should you never wear colognes or perfumes? I’ve tried to find that comfort level and fine line within my own home, so I'd like to share what I’ve concluded for myself.
I used to wear perfumes on a daily basis, and I’m one of those girls who likes to change it up. I also used to enjoy a variety of soap products and lotions. Well, all of that has changed.
I only occasionally use colognes and this is only when I’m going someplace special, and know that I’m not likely to handle my sugar babies any more that evening. I use only non-scented soaps and my scented lotion rule goes along the same lines as my perfume / cologne rule. I’ve found out (the hard way) that my very own, super duper bonded sugar gliders don’t recognize me when I mask my natural smell. They are used to me smelling one way, and if I change that, it changes their behavior (misbehavior?) toward me.
I’m not suggesting that you should adopt the same rules for yourself, but try to be aware of the timing of things. I’m with sugar gliders pretty much all day long, every day. If you have - what my Mom would call - "a real job" and leave to go to an office each day, indulge in the cologne of your choice. You just may choose to shower when you come home before hanging out with your glider gang.
I regularly burn candles and incense, but I do not burn any scented candles in the same room where Arnold lives. And I do not burn any candles or incense when the gliders are actually out of the cage. I will burn scented candles in the room next to Arnold’s and the door in between is often open. I’ve not seen them act at all irritated by this practice. I tend to restrict any incense burning to the other side of the house. I find incense is a much stronger smell than the types of candles I use, so I tend to use that completely away from the gliders.
I think it really boils down to using good judgment about these sorts of products. When I plan to hold and play with my sugar gliders, I choose to forego products applied to the body. I believe if you feel that colognes and body lotions must be a part of your life, stick to the same one. I don’t think the issue is about using cologne or other smell good stuff. The issue is really about your scent changing as this is a primary method of recognition for sugar gliders. Consistency is the important message here.
Not all candles and incense products are created equally, so if you really want the ambience and nice smells of candles / incense, choose scents that are not overpowering. Find a nice moderate compromise that will allow you the experience of some of life’s simple pleasures without creating potential respiratory issues for any of your four legged house mates.
I often use the dogs as a guide to whether or not I’m possibly overdoing it. Both of my dogs are of the “long nosed” varieties, and one of them tends toward allergies and sensitivities. If the dogs sneeze or rub their eyes with their paws after coming into a room, I reconsider my choices. I can only assume that the much smaller, also sensitive sugar gliders, will be affected as well. Austerity is not necessary, but good awareness and judgment should rule.
New Toys! Have you heard about PuzzleSAURUS?
We regularly receive trade magazines and catalogues from many of the general pet supply companies and I notice a very positive trend developing in the overall pet industry. Of course, most of the toys and products promoted are for dogs, cats, birds and fish, as these are the most popular types of pets kept in most homes.
For many years, dog toys seemed to consist of things to fetch, chew or tug. Cat toys generally fit the categories of things to claw, bat or the popular real fur mouse toys stuffed with catnip. The point I’m trying to make here is that the trend - up until recently - has been focused on maintaining a status quo.
The new trend - and a welcome one, in my opinion - is to expand on the concept of enrichment. I’m seeing more and more emphasis being placed on more challenging games and toys that help enhance the problem solving skills of mainstream pets. In fact, there are even board game concepts that are starting to emerge.
At a recent Pet Expo, we noticed some new toys that appeared to be potentially enriching for sugar gliders. We brought home about a dozen of these new concepts and two of them stood out in our minds (and in the minds of our busy body little sugar gliders). It always fascinates me how the range of stimulation has varying appeal to each unique critter.
My personal favorite amongst the new finds is one called PuzzleSAURUS. It is like a Sugar Baby Einstein version of sugar glider stimulation stations! PuzzleSAURUS offers a wide range of challenging games and dexterity activities, and it even contains a cool treat hiding place so we humans don't get left out! The environment generates highly stimulating interest for sugar gliders, keeping them entertained, learning and active.
PuzzleSAURUS also offers a feature that solves a problem for many sugar glider keepers. Have you run out of space to hang new toys? Do you have a solid roof cage that makes hanging toys more of a challenge? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, PuzzleSAURUS is the next toy in your sugar glider’s future!
You see, this toy is made of a stout, unbending, animal safe nylon. So the toy itself can be utilized as a toy hangar without interfering with its own features. In other words, let’s say you just bought a really cute dangly-boo-jobby off ebay, but now you can’t figure out where to hang it. Now you can attach it right to the PuzzleSAURUS.
I’ve been able to hang a variety of different items from the PuzzleSAURUS, including other toys, vines, and bendable branches, creating a sugar glider superhighway of stimulating, creative and energetic activity. I have found that the standard hooks on a some toys may be a bit small to clip on PuzzleSAURUS, but that challenge is easily resolved with nylon cable ties (zip ties). To find out more about PuzzleSAURUS, click here.
And while you’re at it, check out the other winner from this test group of toys called Rattle 'N Roll. This one is made of acrylic and offers some more "puzzling" activities to keep your favorite marsupial actively learning and challenged. As your glider climbs from one end to the other, the toy "rocks" and the crystal ball rolls, creating a "rattle" noise that starts the whole cycle over again.
Both of these toys are highly durable and are likely to defy the chew efforts of even the most accomplished overachievers! An added bonus is they are both super easy to clean!
Keeping on top of Product Safety
With the holidays rapidly approaching, toy sales for both children and pets hit yearly highs. Many safety conscious consumers are becoming wary of toys and other products made overseas, particularly in China. There have been abundant recalls on products made in China concerning the use of lead based paints.
I’ve personally received quite a few phone calls from conscientious customers asking us what we’ve done to ensure our product safety. These are great questions - and questions we are happy to publicly address. Due diligence is an important part of our product selection process. It is also important that we continue to monitor our products to make sure that significant changes have not been made that could impact the safety of the products we offer.
First off, and this is the main question I have been fielding, let’s talk about the powder coated cages we offer. When we first got wind of the toy recalls going on, we contacted our local distributor to find out if they could give us solid evidence verifying the safety of the paint used in the products we buy from them. We were tickled that not only were they on top of the concerns, but had an independent paint test done in the United States to confirm that the manufacturer’s claims were indeed accurate. Our full line of powder coated cages have been, and continue to be, lead free products. We encourage you to make sure that any vendors you buy children or pet products from have taken the steps of due diligence to ensure your family’s safety (of course, including all fuzzy and four legged “kids” as well).
At other times, things come to our attention that do not necessarily involve national recalls. In our continued commitment to safety standards, we carefully monitor our product lines on every inbound shipment, looking out for changes to ingredients, packaging, etc. On occasion, we may notice that some key ingredients may have changed, although the packaging still appears the same. But typically, our vendors are very good about forewarning us of any changes so we can appropriately inform our customers.
However, we recently experienced an unfortunate incident with our milk replacer product. The animal protein, which is one of the most critical ingredients, was replaced with a “plant based” soy protein. We were very uncomfortable with this change, as we do not believe soy protein to be the optimal protein. As a result, we chose to discontinue the product immediately. In general, there seems to be quite a bit of controversy over the use of soy in animal products.
While I make no claims of being an animal nutritionist, I do have access to nutritionists, veterinarians and my own research on the common consensus of using soy protein in pet products. The experts in this area that we rely upon agree (for the most part) that soy is not the best choice to meet protein requirements. For one thing, soy is missing some of the key amino acids, or building blocks for growth and regeneration. I will not use soy protein-based products for my pets. We can also only assume that this change was made in order to cut manufacturing costs. Hey, I have no problem with manufacturers making money, but I do have a problem when the product becomes inferior for the sake of a bottom line.
We have been seeking alternative products to fill this vital need and we ask that you be patient during our search process. As marsupials are not indigenous to the U.S., we have taken our search overseas, and have identified some good products, but getting them to the U.S. has proven to be no easy task. We will continue our search, but we will not replace an inferior product with another product that does not meet our high standards.
We will not be the type of retail company that puts a new product out there just to sell more product. Every product we sell must be safe for our sugar gliders to the best of our ability, or not at all. This is why we never have, nor ever will, sell such products as leashes and heat rocks, which are two products sold en masse to new sugar glider keepers who are not yet aware of the safety concerns of products in these categories.
So as we near the end of this year, we renew our vow to you to do our best to keep product safety primary in our offerings. As our customers, you deserve no less than that.
'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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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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