GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2009

GliderVet #89: Foraging Toys, Shipping Sugar Gliders, Is a Staple Food Really Important?

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
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Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the July 2009 edition of the GliderVet News.

Today we kick off with Arnold! He wants to talk a bit about his second favorite topic (as his first favorite topic is food). That would be toys. And hey, he’s got it all hooked up this month when he talks about toys that involve food, also known as foraging toys. He also decided he wants go first … imagine that!

Does shipping sugar gliders via airline create undue stress? I’ve been breeding sugar gliders for ten years now and for the last eight years we’ve been shipping our gliders to every legal state in the Continental US. Yet there seems to be an increasing wave of concern as I’ve been getting an unusually high number of phone calls and emails asking me if shipping is really safe. Many of these folks have seen sugar gliders at a show or mall and have been told shipping sugar gliders is a really bad idea. Please read on for my full response.

Last we’ll wrap up with a quick answer to the importance of staple food. Is it important and is it OK to stock it in bulk to save money? So read on, sit back and enjoy!

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.
Foraging Toys
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By Arnold

One,Two,Three,Four!
All patagiums on 'da floor!

Two, Four, Six, Eight!
A-maze-ing Treat Toy's Fabu-Great!

Six, Seven, Eight, Nine!
Arnie here and melikes to rhyme!

This here Toy is sure a Winner!
Now I gotsta go 'cuz it's time 4 Dinner!

Whatsup, me fine furless friends? Arnie here and if there is 'sumptin me likes almost as much as food, it’s toyz! And toyz that are stocked with food are the best of all the bestes’s there is!

OK, me got a bit ahead of meself here, but me likes the rappin thing, so just hang with me hoomie and we’ll get to it.

Toyz are about fun and activities just like the kind of stuff we would do if we wuz in the wild! Like, for instance, running. We do likes to run and a good running wheel in our happytat can give us that exercise and energy burn just like a big ol' hooman treadmill duz for you furless guys.

Then there’s climbing, anutter thing we need to do whether we live in a house with peeps or we live in a tree outdoors. So stuff like branches, ropes, ladders and whatnot are great to fill this need.

Sumptin else we do - a lot - is hunt. Maybe this isn’t so much about play in the wild, but it still can be fun. And we hunt by foraging, so when you buy us toys that are made to give us the chance to do our own huntin', it really makes us feel good. Kinda like your little peeps like to find Easter eggs, we like to find treats too.

A long time ago, one of my peeps decided to add a little tiny basket to the toy we call Swing Thing. The basket is for you guys to put some treats in for us guys. See? Now we found a brand new foragin' toy and methinks it’s a-Maze-ing! While it can be swung from, hung from and sung from … it's really bout what’s inside! Fun and yummy all wrapped up in one colorful package.

It was fun to be a tester for this toy. Me Mum Tree thought 'cuz I only has three feet, that me might have a hard time with this one. On the first day, she just hung it from the side of the cage, and that was soooooo easy. Just had to walk down the wall and stick me little paw in there and eat up the yum yums.

So then she tried to trick me and then she hung it from the middle of me happytat, and then me just hung from one foot and grabbed that bad boy up and shook it like a pi?ata … me and me pals had great fun grabbing the goodies. Me ate mine just swinging upside down like batman munching away on a yogie!

So if ya wanna see what’s got me singin' a new tune, check out the a-Maze-ing Treat Toy here. We gotta special deal on these, so stock up now, 'cuz this is a special price just fer you, hoomie!

Shipping Sugar Gliders
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By Lisa

Is shipping sugar gliders safe?

We’ve been raising and shipping sugar gliders for quite a long time now. Lately, I’ve been getting an increasing number of calls from families looking to acquire gliders that are quite opposed to shipping them. The reason most of them are opposed is simple. Someone at a mall, pet store, exhibit or other entity told them that shipping gliders is bad for them. Funny thing is many of these entities have their sugar gliders shipped into their location, via airline. The reason that it’s OK for these guys to ship sugar gliders and not for you to have them shipped is simple.

They don’t want you to adopt your sugar gliders from anyone else.

Some vendors are going so far as telling their prospective customers that if you ship sugar gliders, they will die. This is pretty lame if you ask me, especially since most dealers of sugar gliders have their sugar gliders shipped in from somewhere else. It is also lame because it is simply not true. Most of the sugar glider breeders that wholesale sugar gliders are concentrated in two states. Texas is the state where most sugar gliders sold wholesale are bred. Florida also is a major importation point and those who deal in wild caught gliders are likely to be dealing with a Florida importer. Personal note: I am not a supporter of the wild caught sugar glider trade.

Shipping is only as good or bad as the practices one carries out in the process of shipping. Some airlines do a good job, some airlines do not as good of a job, and other airlines don’t ship at all.

We've been big fans of Continental Airlines for a long time. On March 3, 2012 Continental and United merged into what is now called United. Fortunately, they have chosen to keep the Continental model and standards for Live Animal Shipping the same. This is good news as they've done a great job for us over the years.

We also use Delta's Premium service (Delta Dash) as a Plan B if they offer shorter flight times or flights to cities not presently serviced by United. Both of these airlines keep the animals climate controlled throughout the process of shipping from origin to destination. In transit, while on the aircraft, the animals are kept in climate controlled, pressurized areas that feel just like the conditions of a human passenger on that same flight. This is not only the
policy of the airlines, it is the law! In other words, if flying is safe for people, it is exactly the same safety for animals.

When temperatures exceed 100 degrees or are below 10 degrees, there may be "embargos" on animal shipments. We can keep them warm by using heat packs, but in extreme high temperatures, we usually have the option of scheduling an arrival after 9PM, so there is no risk to high heat exposure. We have more challenges shipping to places like Arizona and Nevada in the heat of summer than we do shipping to Minnesota in the cold of winter. And if the weather is going through an extreme pattern, we may ask to reschedule your sugar gliders' flight as we would never unduly risk their health.

The flights are the same flights people take, so however long it takes to get from Tampa Florida to an airport near you, is how long the transit time will be. Our four leggers are on the very same flight as the two legged travelers.

The airlines are regulated by the USDA (among other government agencies) and must meet certain criteria in order to even be allowed to ship animals. If the airlines are negligent and animals are lost, or arrive ill, they have to answer for their negligence and will have their licenses to ship animals suspended for poor service. Poor service simply is not tolerated by several regulatory agencies. When you hear that shipping is unsafe, it makes me wonder what kind of shipping is this idea based upon? It certainly does not apply to airline shipping as that process is monitored and would be shut down if safe practices were not employed.

Some unscrupulous breeders have shipped live, warm blooded animals via overnight mail, like postal, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. Not only is this unethical, but it is also illegal. But those without consciences will do this because it’s cheap compared to the alternative. Is this what is meant by those who say shipping is unsafe? If this is the case, I would have to wholeheartedly agree.

I’ve been shipping sugar gliders for many years now and I can tell you from this experience, I fully vouch for the safety of shipping sugar gliders via airline. If it wasn’t safe, who in their right mind would do it? I certainly would not. Our safety record shipping via airline is perfect and they do a pretty good job at near on-time arrivals as well. You will have occasional flight delays and in a very small number of shipments, we've had to have sugar gliders stay overnight in a connecting city, often due to severe weather conditions that were unforeseen. But, part of the airline programs is that provisions are to be available for kenneling procedures that employ properly trained employees and are equipped to professionally care for any animals that are temporarily stranded.

So even in this scenario, the animals are safe. I can count on less than one hand how many times we’ve had this happen. In one instance, the kenneling facility was not familiar with sugar gliders, so they called me and asked me exactly what needed to be done for their safety and comfort that night. I was very impressed by the professionalism and willingness to go the extra mile. They were not sure about sugar glider care, so they simply asked. I could tell they wanted to do the best job possible. And the sugar gliders were no worse off for the experience, which at the end of the day, IS all that really matters - the safety and well-being of the animals.

But what about the stress shipping may cause, you ask?

I find sugar gliders are probably among the easiest of warm blooded animals to ship, for two reasons. They are small, and they are nocturnal. We do our best to arrange shipping transit times during the day, while they are asleep. We also put them in a “privacy” kennel which makes looking at them very hard. Also, they are shipped inside of their own sleeping pouch and if in the pouch - as they usually are, sleeping - airline employees are unable to look at them. This means once we've been through the security check procedure (as airlines check all packages, as you well know) the animals will experience private, uninterrupted transportation.

Over the years, I’ve had customers call me afraid to open the shipping kennel, because they hear absolutely no noise or other “signs of life” from the kennel. They're afraid the sugar gliders may have been injured during transit. I assure them that all is well and offer to stay on the phone with them while they open the kennel and behold their new joeys. As the gliders emerge from sleep, I hear the new humans oooohing and awwwwing as the little guys open their big old peepers to observe their new human family members. Now I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty hard to sleep if I’m stressed and the babies do tend to sleep throughout most of this process.

I think the fact that the sugar babies are waking up in a new home, with new people is a more stressful event than the shipping is. You could be the neighbor I hand-delivered babies to, and the animals still have the experience of stress from relocation. All animals must acclimate to new surroundings and new people. We know this about dogs and cats; why should we expect sugar gliders to be an exception to this rule? I have found that my local customers who’ve picked up sugar gliders directly from me have an acclimation experience no different with their gliders than the families who’ve opted to have their sugar gliders shipped to them.

This whole idea that shipping is bad is like the used car salesman who tells you that all of his competitors only sell cars that have been in accidents, been in floods, or have super high mileage. He doesn’t want you to consider any of the other options you have. I’m sorry to pick on the used car salesman here, but fact is, most of us would not believe the "accident or flood story" on the lot.

Many would agree that when adopting animals, dealing direct with a breeder is a much better way to adopt animals than going to a “re-seller”. If you can locate a sugar glider breeder physically near you, by all means, go that route. If there are no local breeders, shipping is an excellent option for you. I encourage you to not let the animal “re-seller” use impulse sales pitches to steer you otherwise.

If you are on the fence about this, don’t take my word for it. Go to any of the online sugar glider communities like out Glider Central or Glider Gossip, which are two of the larger communities. You will find a significant percentage of these community members acquired their first sugar gliders by having them shipped.

Can we all be wrong and the used car salesman right?

Are you to ready consider owning a sugar glider?

See More Shipping Details and Customer Experiences with Shipping
Why are Staple Foods are Important?
Does It Make Sense to Buy them in Bulk?

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By Lisa

Here's a quick tip for you. Staple foods are a recommended part of the sugar glider diet because it gives around the clock access to food that will not spoil. Many of us glider keepers know that feeding different sources of fresh foods are part of a good, overall plan of nutrition. But don't discount the importance of staple food.

It is common for sugar gliders to prefer to eat their fresh foods first. But fresh foods spoil and uneaten portions should be removed in the morning. The staple food is the only thing that is recommended to leave out all day until that evening's new meal is presented.

I find that adult breeding sugar gliders, particularly females will come out for the daytime snack. I also see that the young sugar gliders are also inclined to come out and eat during the day. So food around the clock is most important if you have breeding or young gliders who are still growing. If your non-breeding adults are not consuming a staple food, it's possible they simply don't like it or you are over-feeding the fresh portion of the diet (which is costly to you).

On bulk purchasing of sugar glider foods, we understand a lot of people are looking for ways to save money these days. It is a sign of the times and belt tightening has been part of many of our lives. But the average shelf life of dry pet food is 12 months using synthetic preservatives like BHA or BHT, and only 6 months if it uses natural preservatives like Vitamin C (ascorbate) or Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) or spice oils such as rosemary or clove. If there's no expiration date or information on the package or web site, ask the seller which type of preservative is used.

I would discourage you from buying more glider food (or any pet food, for that matter) than you will use in 12 months, or 6 months for the naturals (check the label for names of preservatives above). The food will degrade in time, so while you might save a few bucks by buying in bulk, you will be feeding your animals a less healthy food if it is old. It also seems that as food does age, it is less palatable, so you may have more waste, which in the long run wastes your money as well. Would you buy a 2 year supply of food for your dog or cat?

'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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Viva La Glider! Arnold

Lisa
SunCoast Sugar Gliders

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