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GliderVet #136: Male Sugar Glider Anatomy

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GliderVet Newsletter
Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
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This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter
==========================
“Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms” - George Eliot

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

We have an announcement about some changes we have made here at SunCoast Sugar Gliders.  So be sure to to read on to see what that's all about!

Next up, Lisa will be talking about sugar glider male, ahem, bits.  Humans sure are baffled and intrigued about where the glider's boy parts reside, why they emit such a potent scent...and various other nuts and bolts, pun intended!

Before we glide in, we have recently made some enhancements to our sleeping pouches by adding nylon clips that are safe, BPA-free and super easy to clip and un-clip.  These clips are lightweight, durable and can be put into the dishwasher to clean.  Check them out 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.


Changes at SunCoast 
===============
by Lisa

Recently, I’ve personally had a wakeup call.  After living a long a distance from my family for many years, the time has come where I really need to be closer to them.  Fact is, none of us are getting any younger and it can be difficult to watch parents age and have challenges that limit their independence.

So I made the decision to relocate closer to my family in Texas.  And while I was processing all this, I also realized if I was going to really fulfill my desire to spend more time with my family, I would have to leave the sugar glider breeding business.  The bottom line here is breeding sugar gliders correctly takes an enormous amount of time and energy, which at this point in my life, I would like to devote to family issues.

If you’ve adopted joeys from us in the past, rest assured I am still fully committed to being available to you as you need help with situations you may encounter with our sugar gliders.

My grand gliders will always be my grand gliders!

As always, just send me an email when you'd like to talk:

lisa@sugar-gliders.com

The SunCoast store also remains fully operational to provide for your sugar glider needs, and we plan to develop even more products based on science, experience, and common sense in an effort to move the glider world forward.  As usual, I'll be asking for your ideas and advice along the way...and I will still be answering all the questions folks email me about the health and happiness of gliders, whether about the animals themselves or issues like diet and safety.

Leaving the breeding business will also ensure there is more time for me to do what I have been yearning to do for several years, which is to expand our work for the benefit of sugar gliders everywhere. Advocacy and innovation are aspects of SunCoast Sugar Gliders that many of those who have been around gliders for years understand, but unfortunately, many people see us as "just breeders".  Not!

After all, there are a lot of product innovations and tons of husbandry practices that have been initiated by SunCoast over the years that are now just accepted as standards in proper sugar glider care.  I also intend to get more involved with established glider community groups as well.  While I used to be extremely involved, my time has been dedicated to the breeding business, which prevented me from being able to stay active with the community.

Last but not least, we hope to use our broad audience to help facilitate efforts of the rescue groups out there.  These are the unsung heroes in my opinion.  There seems to be a direct correlation between the need for rescue and the growth of folks encouraging spontaneous glider purchases at live events.  Long term commitments made spontaneously often do not work out, and where does that leave the sugar gliders?

In summary, I am really looking forward to being involved with the sugar glider communities, working with experts on integrating cutting edge science into new product development and working with sugar glider rescue efforts.  So stay tuned, as I will have more to say on these ideas in the near future!

P.S.  Oh yeah, the newsletter will continue every month as well!


Male Anatomy
=========================
by Lisa

This article will contain some information about male sugar glider sexual anatomy.  So if you are reading this with your young children, you might want to skip to another article as we’ll leave the birds and bees talk up to you when you are ready to educate your child!

We get our share of “panic calls” from sugar glider keepers concerned that their sugar glider has worms.  Interestingly, it’s always a male sugar glider that the caller is afraid has some dreaded worm condition.  And the caller’s panic also creates a sense of panic in me as well, because I’m hoping that they’ve not done anything to try and treat the “worms” on their own.

The male sugar glider’s male organ looks like a pink stringy worm-like thing coming out of the cloaca.  The cloaca is the bump one will see near the base of the tail in both male and female sugar gliders and the male’s essential mating organ will be retracted most of the time.   Now what really messes people up when they see the male exposed is that they will often see two of these worm-like appendages, and many people are unaware that sugar gliders have a bifurcated penis, meaning it is forked.  So if it is not fully extended, it will actually look like two worms.

Please, please please put down the tweezers now!  Those are not worms and I’m sure your sugar glider would very much like to have his organs intact.  Sugar gliders do not have the tendency to get worms in the sense that puppies and kittens do.  You can almost pretty much know that puppies will have worms, and de-worming puppies is a very common veterinary practice.  If you expect your sugar glider really has worms, then please see a vet because different types of worms may require different remedies, or worse yet, it may not be worms at all.

So while we are on the subject of male anatomy, for those of you who have intact (not neutered) male sugar gliders, you will notice that as they mature, they start to develop two bald spots.  This too can cause panic in a new glider keeper when they start to notice that their young male glider starts going bald!  Hmmm, bet you thought this only happened to older guys, right?!

Well, male sugar gliders will develop two musk glands, and the most obvious one appears as a “bald spot” in the black diamond on top of the head.  The bald spots can vary in size, and can appear to be oily at times.  There is also a musk gland on the sternum (upper chest area), and while this one does not necessarily look identical to the head gland, it still emits a musky oil and often people become concerned because this oil will attract dirt and sometimes look brown and dingy on the chest gland.  This is just normal appearance for male sugar gliders and it is one of the ways that they will mark territory.

Territory is not just about where they live and where they sleep.  Marking territory is more than just leaving scent on physical surroundings and accessories in the cage.  Male sugar gliders will also mark the other sugar gliders in the colony.  I find it really humorous to watch the male mark other members of the colony.  He will hold them in his two front paws and rub his head vigorously on their body. In many cases, the rubbee is quite ok with being marked.  But as that is not always the case, the rubbee will let the marking male know, in no uncertain terms, that his smell is not welcome.  This is a sign you  should pay attention to.  Every colony needs a leader and if someone else is vying for the top glider position in the colony, competition can arise over who will be the alpha of the clan.

Intact male sugar gliders will also mark territory by urine marking.  I hear a lot of people refer to this is spraying, but the male sugar glider doesn’t really have a sprayer.  He has more of a dribbler, but it’s all still urine marking just as a male cat might spray to mark, the male sugar glider will urinate to mark.  Some male sugar gliders will try to mark their human with the musk, but more often, the male sugar glider will urinate on their human.  

Also, the urine of a non-neutered male has a stronger smell than the neutered male sugar glider.  This situation is similar to cats, in that neutering will substantially cut down on the odor.  If a male has already developed his musk glands, they will close up in time after a neutering procedure.  Some male gliders may still maintain the habit of urine marking, but the good news is that the smell of the urine will diminish in time as well.  And the frequency of the activity will also diminish.  Generally speaking, I tend to prefer the temperament of the male sugar gliders, although I do not particularly care for the smell.  Sadly, most people find it to be a big turn off and many males are needlessly bounced from home to home when the simple solution is to have them neutered.

Female gliders do not generally urine mark, but I have had some female markers, and there is really little I can suggest to do about this.  The good news, though, is that like the neutered male, the female urine does not have nearly as potent a smell so it’s tolerable and really amounts to a small wet spot on your clothing without a strong odor to it.

I find the anatomical structure of male sugar gliders so interesting, as compared to other mammals.  The other male part that has commonly been referred to as their “pom pom” is north of the cloaca.  Because the cloaca protrudes a bit, many mistake gliders to be male because they are assuming that the cloaca is the testicles, but the pom pom is cuter, less technical name for the testicles.  You will see the pom pom where you might expect to see a belly button.  Determining the sex of sugar gliders is very easy and can be done as soon as they emerge from the pouch.  When the male is very young, he is not fully furred yet, so his soon to be white fuzzy pom pom looks like a small pink wart when he is young.  As he develops, the wart grows white hair and will eventually be about the size of a pea, so it's quite easy to tell glider sex at any time during development.

So please don’t mess with the “worms” and certainly don't panic if you see your little boy going bald.  These are just normal developments for a male sugar glider!


'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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GliderVet Newsletter
Your resource for safety first, expert
advice on our sugar glider friends!
>=<---- >=<---- >=<---- >=<----

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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