Should Male Sugar Gliders Be Used As Studs?
We are of the mindset here at SunCoast that when breeding sugar gliders, the male and female should cohabitate before, during and after breeding. While sugar gliders don’t necessarily bond for life, there is a strong bond that develops between a breeding male and female. Let’s take this point by point.
First off, there are some people that may argue that gliders do bond for life, but we can tell you from firsthand experience that sugar gliders willingly accept multiple companions during their lifetime. In our view, it only makes sense as gliders naturally live in colonies of perhaps dozen or more animals. The colonies will consist of both males and females.
When we choose to retire our female gliders, a decision that is made based on a variety of factors, we retire the females permanently. Oftentimes, we will pair the male with a new female as we believe that the male’s breeding life can be safely longer than the female’s. On some occasions, we will have the male neutered and keep the couple together. This decision is made when we believe deep down that these two particular gliders only have eyes for each other. But this is more the exception than the rule around here.
We have also been breeding a few colonies of our own and hope to expand our experimentation in this area. We started some colonies of two females to a male, and over the last year we began three new colonies of four females to one male. Our goal is to see if we can keep colonies intact longer, expecting the female’s breeding life is longer in a colony as they seem to naturally have fewer offspring.
Now, the original question we hope to answer today started coming up quite a few years back. Five or six years ago, it seemed like the norm for most glider keepers was to keep single gliders. We are pleased to report that trend has changed significantly. Through excellent community efforts and education, most people now realize that sugar gliders are best kept with same species buddies as this best suits their true nature.
Those who keep single gliders have written in over the years hoping that they could have the great “joey experience” by getting together with someone else they knew that had an opposite sex glider, letting the gliders breed and then taking their respective gliders back to their own homes. This is a technique often used with dog breeding.
Our best advice is don’t do it! Male sugar gliders do not merely contribute their DNA to this process. Male sugar gliders are very involved in the whole process of caring for the young. So for all of you who have asked if the male and female should be separated when joeys are visibly in the pouch, again the answer is no.
Once joeys begin to emerge from the pouch, the male sugar glider will start sharing some duties and responsibilities with the female. For those of you who’ve had the experience, you may notice that the female glider may wander around the habitat at night by herself. The joeys will be in the nesting area alone with the male. This is another area that we receive a lot of panic calls and questions. It is perfectly natural for the female to take some time for herself when she has young joeys. Not all females will do this, but many will take some time to stretch their legs, have a good wobust wun in their wodent wheel, have a snack without the kids hanging on her, all the while knowing her babies are back home safe with Dad!
So what exactly does Dad do to help? Well, one important issue is that when joeys emerge from the pouch, they are unable to regulate their own body temperatures and can get cold very easily. So Dad keeps the babies warm. He will also groom the babies, give them piggyback rides, and teach them social skills they need to know for later on in life.
If you choose to use a male glider simply as a stud, then you are putting a lot of extra work on the female to raise her young alone. We believe that the male’s help and presence plays an important role in captivity bred sugar gliders in a way that best emulates what would happen in the wild.
There is one more very important point that we feel belongs in this topic as well. Sugar gliders are very territorial. Using gliders as studs or even getting together with your friends to let your gliders play together from time to time can be a bad and dangerous idea. As social as gliders are, think of them as tribal. Gliders who are strangers to each other may see each other as members of a “warring tribe” and could get enmeshed in a rather nasty fight. Unlike dogs who tend to socialize well with other dogs, sugar gliders do not necessarily socialize that well with other unfamiliar gliders. We’ve often mentioned the necessity for proper introduction procedures when bringing new gliders to the home.
To take this question of stud service one step further, we’ve had folks contact us who happen to be the proud keepers of some special color variety glider. We’ve heard that some of the color breeders move their males from cage to cage in order to perpetuate more of the coveted and rare special colors. We do not do this at SunCoast, but I thought an interesting way to accomplish this would be as follows. Now keep in mind, as I share this thought, it is mostly speculative on my part, but from some of our limited experiences, may provide a satisfactory solution. Perhaps one day, we will try this here at SunCoast.
It seems to me that it may work well to keep two side by side cages with one or two females together in each habitat with a neutered male. The “stud” colored male could theoretically be safely moved between the two habitats as the proximity between the habitats may keep him in fairly direct contact with the gliders of both colonies.
As I alluded above, we do have some limited experience in this regard. I keep six gliders as members of my family. I have three males and three females with all three of the males now neutered. I did allow Buddy to breed one time. Buddy lives with Arnold (who was previously neutered), Janine and Naomi. Buddy bred with both females and when the joeys came out of pouch, Arnold was every bit as involved with the young as the natural parents were. He was truly a great Uncle to the joeys.
It is from this experience that I’ve concluded that a neutered male may be quite capable of giving the care and nurturing to young joeys born to his colony in the absence of the natural father. Let’s face it! The females don’t deserve to do all the work on their own, so we ask that you proceed with your breeding programs in a manner that ultimately honors the nature of our fine furry friends!
If anyone has any experience related to the content of this article, we would love to hear your story. Balanced reporting is important to at least this humble media operation!
Another Exciting Episode of …. DEAR ARNOLD
Note: Some of Arnold’s fan mail may be edited cause Arnold wants some of them to be shorter so he can have more space all to himself! Yuk Yuk Yuk! And now … for more “thinking outside of the pouch” advice …here’s Arnold!
Dear Arnold, Lisa, and UM UM UM, and a Holy Moly,
I got the TASTE!!!! I ACTUALLY GOT THE TASTE!!!! and Out of ALL three of them tonight!!! I GOT THE TASTE!!!! I put them back in the cage and ALL THREE OF THEM GAVE ME THE TASTE!!!! (I didn’t understand the taste but I absolutely understand now!!! I am so excited!!) My husband thinks I am crazed but they actually all did it!! I was trying to explain to him about the love bite with animals (unfortunately for him he is not the “animal” person” and would NEVER understand, THE TASTE!!!, but, who cares), I GOT THE TASTE. After that, I fed meal worms and they actually came to my hands and ate them. I think my family is jealous, well my husband anyhow, but WHATEVER!!! HE DIDN’T GET THE TASTE!!! I personally, am so happy for the TASTE and they ate out of my hands. I would love to cup them and let them sleep with me tonight but I will only bug them now with their new “Winny the Pooh” accessories. Okay, I am obsessive with their toys but I AM THRILLED ABOUT THE TASTE!!!!!!
Debs, Murphy, Emmy and Cassidy!!!
Wooo hooo … you got The TASTE .. Deb-O got the TASTE! How cool is that and you just met your new suggies when you sent me this email! I so happy happy for you! And for those of you who don’t know the TASTE … it’s the essence, it’s the loooove, it’s the reason suggie gliders become addictive to hoomans …. so stay committed to your suggies, and you too can get the TASTE!
I luv you!
That’s all Blokes! Tune in again next month for another exciting episode of Dear Arnold! Don’t forget, you can share your short comments or fun questions with me by clicking here.
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On… Help for Animals Affected by Tsunami
by Dr. C, of course!
Many of you have written in this month asking if SunCoast Sugar Gliders could organize some sort of fundraiser for animals affected by the recent tsunami in Indonesia. As many of you already know, sugar gliders are native to Indonesia, Australia and New Guinea.
As a veterinarian and wildlife rescuer, I have seen first hand how natural disasters can impact the local wildlife. We certainly had our hands full with the high number of hurricanes in Florida this past summer and are pleased to report that we were able to rescue and rehabilitate a significant number of endangered sea species.
Lisa and I have discussed what, if anything, we could do to support efforts to help the native country of the animals we share in common. Many accounts report high human death tolls, yet few dead animals. There are varying theories on this observation. Animals may have sensed some type of climatic or barometric changes and fled the area or it is equally possible that animal corpses were buried in debris or swept out to sea.
There was one news story that I saw on television that I found of particular interest. A group of tourists were on a nature tour and riding elephants back through the terrain. Much to the tourists’ displeasure, the elephants became unruly and basically stampeded for the hills with passengers still on board. The elephants sensed impending danger and while it was a rough ride for the tourists, the elephants may have saved lives that day by following their instincts and retreating to higher ground.
While we are all deeply saddened by the loss of life suffered through this event, I do not think it appropriate that SunCoast Sugar Gliders endorse their own fundraising effort as all indications are that the sugar glider population may have been quite unaffected. The long term effect may in fact be due to habitat loss directly related to the storm, but most assuredly by subsequent habitat loss which will occur as humans displaced by the storm move into otherwise pristine forests. This will not only impact sugar gliders but may affect all Indonesian wildlife. There are two organizations I currently endorse for tsunami donations:
1) The American Red Cross, which helps human victims with emergency but also long term support to help rebuild lives and communities. For more information, click here.
2) The International Sea Turtle Society. As many of you know I am actively involved in marine turtle rehabilitation. At the International Symposium last week we learned several of our Indonesian colleagues lost their lives while at their research outposts studying both turtles and other wildlife. The ISTS tsunami fund will be donating dollars directly to families of wildlife researchers affected by the storm and to efforts to rebuild wildlife research stations. For more information on the Indian Ocean Tsunami Sea Turtle Fund, click here.
It personally pleases me that so many people expressed concern for this issue. Wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release is the primary focus of my professional career, so your letters have prompted issues close to my heart. I appreciate the opportunity to share my views on this topic.
As always, these topics are driven by your requests, so send your questions about glider health care issues by clicking here and we will do our best to include your request in a future edition of the GliderVet Newsletter. I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I’ll see you again next month!
(Janine M Cianciolo, DVM)