GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2013

GliderVet #133: Resting Breeding Female Gliders, Gliders on a Screened Porch, Safety for Traveling Gliders

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter

"Happiness has always been a warm coat & a beating heart trusted to my care." ~ Alison Stormwolf ~

Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the May 2013 edition of the GliderVet News.

Here in Florida, it already feels like summertime. The temperatures outside are hot, hot, hot and we're sizzlin' along!

We'll start off this month with a discussion on the need for "resting" glider females after they give birth. In other words, giving these females "time off" before allowing them to breed again. Does this make sense given the unique characteristics of sugar gliders?

Due to popular demand, Arnold returns to shed some light for us on "male pattern balding" in a way only he knows how to do - bluntly! We also received some interesting questions on the safety of sugar gliders; one is regarding the safety of keeping gliders on a screened porch in a hot climate, while the other is about ensuring your gliders are safe if you get into an accident while they are with you. So read on for some very interesting question and answer sessions!

Before we glide in, we'd like to let you know we once again have platinum and leucistic sugar gliders available to loving glider parents! If you are interested, contact Lisa directly here.

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.

Resting Female Gliders After Birth
by Lisa

Here's a breeding question that seems to come up a lot. I'm not sure where this idea of "resting" comes from, but I suspect like many other things glider, it's kind of an old tale that just keeps coming back for more. What's your opinion?

Dear Lisa,

Do breeding female glider needs resting time? You know, time when she needs to "rest" after giving birth of joeys? I heard some say that if we don’t give her a "rest time", her life span would be decreased. Do you know if this is true ?

Regards here from Indonesia
There are two ways to look at this.

Rest does seem like a reasonable suggestion, however, we do not rest our females, as the stress of removing them or someone else from the colony creates stress on them as well.

So we agree, there is stress associated with a lot of breeding and baby raising but there is also stress in separation. Plus - and this is the thing that trips a lot of people up - sugar gliders can carry fertilized eggs for an extended period of time, so separation does not guarantee they will not have another set of joeys in spite of there being no male present. So you see, "resting" may not end up being very restful at all!

And here's another thing. Male gliders take very active roles in helping raise the young. This situation is somewhat of an oddity in nature, both in the fact that the male is so involved in child rearing and also that females can store fertilized eggs.

All of these issues taken together result in our approach to not resting a female just because she has given birth.

However, we do "rest" our females, if you could call it that, using a completely different set of criteria. For example, if they are not good mothers and have harmed their young, or the young seem to carry a defect, these are good reasons to quit breeding even a very young female. We’ve retired some as young as two years old. Also, older females are retired when their breeding just naturally slows down to one baby a year or less, her babies appear undersized, she appears to be losing weight, or just looks tired.

The mill breeders have a " breed them until they drop attitude". This is not our style nor very humane, at least in my opinion.

Here's my point.

If a female is "tired", she needs more than rest, she just needs to quit having babies altogether. If you are mindful of how the female looks in appearance of her weight and activity, then you can make a well informed decision to say enough is enough and retire her so that it does not shorten her life span. Once we retire a female from breeding for any of the reasons above, we retire her permanently!
Dear Arnold: Male bald spot suddenly getting bigger
by Arnold

Dear Arnold,

I actually recently got a female and my male's scent gland has increasingly changed since I got her. It's a bit bigger and he is going bald (I know the going bald part is normal ) but I'm just concerned. Any ideas?

Hiya Kristen,

It kinda depends on how old is Baldy is! Ya see, if Baldy is still goin' through puberty, then it’s just a natural thing for him to get a bigger baldy spot. But if Baldy was already mature before ya introduced him to the li'l lady, then it’s - err - it's an "old boy" boy thang, if ya know what I mean. His hormones are revved up all over again and he's rarin' to go! Ruh roh, Mom Tree Lisa is glaring at me...

Anyhoo, here's da deal: A male glider's scent gland is linked to da production of sumptin' da docs call "testosterone". And well, with dat li'l cutie pie girlie hanging 'round, Baldy's hormones are hyped up in hopes of becomin a Sugar Daddy! Now who's yer Daddy, Baldy?! Yuk yuk yuk!

So there’s nuttin' you can do, or should do, unless ya have him neutered. Then da gland will gradually shrinky dink down till ya will not be able to see it much at all. It’s just a normal boy thing!

Your furry friend,

Keeping Gliders in a Screened Porch

Dear Lisa,

I am purchasing a cage for my boys. The cage itself is 6 ft tall and will not fit in my house. I plan to put it on my back porch, which is covered and screened. I do live in FL, so I was thinking of keeping the smaller cage inside as well and in the AM hours bring them inside and then around dusk let them out to play in the larger cage. I know they are in desperate need of a bigger cage and feel bad and I am getting this one for free from friend. There are no holes or ways for them to escape from the cage. I am just curious about the temperatures for them. I know it's warm / hot here and was hoping if I just let them out at night it will be OK for them. :)

Thanks for any advice!

Hi Leah,

Ideal temperatures for sugar gliders are between 70 and 80 degrees (Fahrenheit), while 65 to 85 degrees is still within their comfort zone. When it gets below 60 degrees, they won’t come out much; and below 60 degrees could be dangerous. Once it gets above 85 degrees, there is a a risk of dehydration. So keep these boundaries in mind, and maybe install an outdoor thermometer in this porch area?

There are other considerations as well to keeping sugar gliders in screened rooms. I live in Florida as well, and lots of homes do have screened-in areas. And even though there are not holes in the screens, it seems like screened-in rooms still attract of lot of bugs, moths, lizards, spiders, frogs and the full gamut of creepy crawlies that the southern states are so abundantly endowed with. Naturally, sugar gliders will try to eat these creepy crawlies and that is just as big of a concern as the temperatures. Outdoor bugs and lizards have quite likely come into contact with pesticides and herbicides, which will be highly toxic to the sugar gliders if they were to consume an uninvited house guest. And once that happens, there is not really anything you can do about it.

I know I’ve shared this story in the past, and I think it is becoming less of an issue as humans wise up about health and exposure to chemicals. There are still communities in Florida where “fog trucks” drive around at night in the summer to control the mosquito infestation. I know a woman who had a pretty decent sized sugar glider colony that lost most of them due to mosquito fogging. You don’t really see this happening in the cities anymore, but it is almost a requirement that people use some type of extermination service in places like Florida, or homes would be overrun by roaches, ants, silverfish, etc.

In Florida, roaches range from the gigantic flying variety, which have been given the exotic name of "palmetto bug", which is a pretty fancy for a giant flying roach, to the smaller german cockroach and many types in between. A lot of extermination companies will use human and pet safe sprays indoors, but a screened porch may get a different, more powerful, and more toxic treatment, so be sure you know what sprays your treatment company is using.

So please consider all of the ramifications of keeping sugar gliders outdoors. I’m sure there are some situations where it will work fine. I’m simply encouraging you to consider issues besides temperature.

Safety for Traveling Gliders

Dear SunCoast,

I have a pretty strange question I haven't seen anyone address before, and it probably wouldn't even occur to most people! My sugar glider goes with me everywhere but work and church. Riding along in my pocket or my shirt, he's accompanied me on errands, visits, even a few out-of-state day trips. It's the latter that made me recently wonder: what if were in a car accident? I can only imagine what a first responder's reaction would be in finding a critter inside my clothing. I can't imagine it would end well. So my question is: has this ever come up before? Any suggestions? My mother proposed a sort of medical alert bracelet but indicating I have a hitchhiker rather than a medical condition. Any thoughts? Thank you!

Yours, Katalin K

Hi Katalin,

I do have a couple of recommendations for you. But first, and for the sake of making sure folks reading this understand clearly what we are talking about, I hope you are using a bonding pouch with a secure closure so the glider cannot get out.

Of course, I could also easily advise that you be safe and don’t get in a accident, but that would not be useful, because these aren’t exactly things we plan in advance. I certainly don’t recommend that you, as the driver, keep your glider in a bonding pouch on your person while you drive. If you wear them, the danger of going forward and hitting the steering wheel is something to consider. And if you don’t hit the steering wheel, the impact of airbags, from what I understand, can be rather forceful.

The safest transport method is a soft side carry crate. Depending on your car, either strap the crate in the back seat like a child carrier, or if that is not possible, place it on the floor of the passenger side of the vehicle. In this case, be sure the air conditioning vents or heater vents that come from underneath the dashboard are not getting the sugar gliders too hot or too cold.

If a pouch is the way you need to go, put it on a seat and secure it to a closed seat belt. This way, if you do get into a collision that involves a sudden stop, you don’t have the pouch flying in one direction and the airbag in the other. You can buy small Velcro straps at home improvement stores, craft shops, and fabric shops to bind the pouch to the belt, or tie off the pouch strap around the belt.

Here's something else. Assuming you are unfortunate enough to get in an auto wreck, how will anyone know what is in that little pouch on the seat? Well, I’ve seen window stickers for homes that let the fire department know how many animals in are in a home, so perhaps you could put something on the pouch like a sticker, or even embroider up a fancy patch to let first responders know there is a live, precious little being riding along in that pouch? Or put a sticker on your driver side door that will be seen by a first responder.

I’ve also heard from some people that let their sugar gliders roam free in the car and I think this is dangerous for a couple of reasons, so let's talk about that while we're at it.

Please don’t assume the gliders will stay in your shirt or pocket 100 percent of the time while in a motor vehicle. It only takes one event to create a sad situation. We’ve had customers who picked up sugar gliders from us, both locally and from the airport and have not heeded our advice to not let them free in the car. I’ve had several direct reports of having to get the dashboard removed to recover sugar gliders who’ve snuck up into that space. OK, while that might make one feel a bit freaked out, I’ve not heard any stories that it ultimately did harm to the sugar glider, but it’s not worth the expense nor the anxiety to let them free in the car.

More importantly, we’ve all heard of the propensity of sugar gliders to “face hug” their humans? Sugar gliders like to go to the highest part of their tree (even the human tree) and they don’t care if they go on the top of your head, the back of your head or right on your face. Driving while getting a face hug is a terrible idea and it only takes one time for a car crash to happen. This could easily be avoided by understanding that the sugar glider should be restrained / contained while in your vehicle.
'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

SunCoast Sugar Gliders

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