Follow-up: My Glider Got in Glue!  What do I do?
by Lisa

Hi Lisa and Arnold,

I just read your article on the sticky pest traps.  In addition to my glider gang I also have birds and belong to our local bird club.  A club member ran into the same sticky situation with one of her cockatiels!  She used peanut butter to remove the glue.  It worked great and the bird only lost a couple of small feathers when he tried to unglue himself.  It may be easier to get off a glider coat than baby oil; besides I’m sure the peanut tastes better not to mention the fact the baby oil will leave your glider smelling like a baby’s butt….LOL)

Jan & the Glider Gang

Hi Jan!  We’ve received this tip before and I thank you for reminding us that there are other normal household items that can be used in this unfortunate situation (if you didn’t read last month’s newsletter about using sticky traps around small animals, you can go back and read it here.)  In this story, our heroine used baby oil to get the glue off her sugar glider.  We also received letters this month asking us to also mention that vegetable oil will work as well. 

Of these different ideas, I tend to like the idea of the peanut butter best because it is a food, unlike baby oil.  I guess you could argue that vegetable oil is also a food, but hey, what would you rather eat?  A Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich or a Crisco and Jelly sandwich?  Now having said this, please keep in mind that peanut butter is not a recommended food to give your glider on a regular basis.  It is really too high in fat to feed regularly.  But if you are using it to solve a problem like sticky trap glue removal, one time is not going to make or break your sugar gliders’ long term nutritional health!

Worst In Home Hazards to Sugar Gliders
by Lisa

Hi my name is Andrew I am 12 years old.  I have a great sugar glider
named Chico.  The other day I had very bad thing happen to Chico, someone had left the toilet seat up downstairs.  Chico got out of his cage, came downstairs and fell into the toilet.  I came in and saw him barely moving but his head was out of the water.  I quickly dried him off and warmed him with my body heat.  Thankfully he is in perfect condition now.  The point of the story is I was hoping you could maybe put a new page on the website to tell people about the dangers of things like this, I know it already says somewhere to keep toilet seats down but I really don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s sugar glider.

Hi Andrew! 

We have mentioned this in the past, but you are right about it being a worthy topic to bring up again. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s sugar glider either!  

Insofar as the number one health hazard in the typical home, toilet tragedies probably rank number one.  First and foremost, it’s very important that you have a cage that is well designed and lockable to help prevent such escapes.  But I’ve been guilty myself of forgetting to close all cage doors before retiring at night.  Of course, Arnold is not such a good boy that he would stay in his cage all night when the door is open!  He’s going to come looking for me!  He also lives with three other gliders, each with their own adventuresome agenda on what to do and where to go.  Twice I’ve found Naomi in the bathroom dangerously close to the toilet!

First thing you should always do when you know your gliders have escaped their habitat is to make sure that all toilets, all windows and all outer doors are closed.

Top household threats to your sugar glider are as follows:

Open Toilets

Open windows (or holes in screens)

Open doors

Holes underneath cabinets, holes in walls or holes behind cabinets or plumbing fixtures

Appliances that animals can get into such as washers, dryers, and dishwashers.  Many of us will leave doors to these appliances open as we tend our chores.

Glider proofing play areas is important with all animals and is much like preparing a room for a visit by a two year old child.  In addition to things like electrical cords and plugs, cords on blinds or curtains, and other things you would consciously review for child safety, keep in mind that gliders can get inside of places that you might not think of. 

For example, most reclining chairs have open framework underneath … or if the fabric under a couch or easy chair is torn, there is now easy access for small animals like sugar gliders to find a new nesting place that you will not be able to access without inflicting major damage to your own furniture.

So have we covered all the top household hazards yet?  I don’t think so.  Most gliders meet premature death not so much from the things in a typical home than they do from other pets in the home.  How would you rank these three animals as hazardous to your glider – dogs, cats and ferrets?

Believe it or not, from the countless numbers of stories we hear, cats may be the least threatening of these three pets.  I think most people are aware of the cat’s natural hunting instinct, so appropriate measures are taken to keep gliders secure from the cats.  We’ve had more reports of gliders being killed by ferrets than dogs and cats combined!  And the fact is, a lot more people keep dogs and/or cats as pets.  I’ve not heard ANY stories of sugar gliders and ferrets befriending each other, nor would I encourage anyone to try this.

Ferrets are natural hunters and still exotic (remember exotic is just a fancy word for wild).  It may be unreasonable to expect a ferret to fight such a strong natural instinct.  Now in all fairness to dogs, let’s first acknowledge that not all dogs are created equally.  The dogs at highest risk to be a hazard to the gliders are those in the terrier breed, particularly Jack Russell terriers.

We often hear that gliders have long life spans often exceeding a dozen or more years.  To me, there are two things we need to do well to achieve those long life spans.  We must feed them properly (a topic we’ve discussed more than any other) and we must keep them out of harm’s way.  Accomplish these two things and you should have your fuzzy friends with you for a long time to come!

Can high fat diets cause cataracts?  
by Lisa

This article is actually a composite of discussions held with several veterinarians, an animal nutritionist, and a couple of other breeders.  There’s not much research done in this area, but there’s a strong concurrence of opinion surrounding a condition that appears to be much like cataracts.

Unfortunately many people mistake the condition to be cataracts when they are really dealing with a nutritional issue that is highly controllable.  It is often dangerous for us lay people to confidently diagnose our own pets because sometimes what may appear to be one thing may in fact be something completely different.

Are your gliders eyes cloudy?  Is there a whitish blob of something that appears to be floating inside of the eyeball?  I’ve personally seen the condition in gliders that we’ve purchased over the years as we were building our breeding colony.  I can wholeheartedly understand why someone would see this and assume it is cataracts.  I’ve not met any doctors yet who’ve actually treated cataracts in sugar gliders.  I think they agree that cataracts can happen, but this condition is actually related to an overabundance of fat in the diet.

Gliders do not digest fat well at all.  It is why Dr C and other vets in the know recommend that the protein sources used in the glider diet be high in protein but low in fat.  The goal is low in fat, not to be confused with no fat.  Some fat is actually necessary in the diet, particularly with breeding sugar gliders as it is necessary for lactation.

Examples of foods that are high in fat which are not recommended are avocado, all nuts, peanut butter (unless your glider got stuck in a sticky trap!) red meat (including ground meat), pork, cheese, anything cooked in oil or butter.  We use a short list of proteins in our feeding rotation here at SunCoast.  We use boiled chicken, boiled egg, mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, yogurt and sometimes chicken baby food.  During the holidays, we may also feed some occasional turkey.  This is not to say these are the only proteins you should be feeding.  We just feel we are able to incorporate enough variety in the diet sticking to this short and proven list of good protein foods.  

And even on this list, mealworms can be a bit higher in fat than may be ideal.  If you only feed them 2-3 times a week as opposed to every day, you should not expect that to be a problem as things even out over the longer term.  Daily feeding of mealworms may not be the best idea.

As stated earlier, we have had a few instances of seeing gliders with the cloudy eye condition.  Without having good background information on these animals, it has been hard for us to discern whether the condition can be completely cleared by changing to a correct glider diet.  We have seen improvement in affected animals over time, but not a complete clearing in all cases.

And the consensus was clear amongst the team of professionals we’ve discussed this with.  The major concern is not what permanent damage has been done to the eyes or vision, but what are the ramifications for the fat buildup in the rest of the body?

Your best bet is to stick with proteins that are lower in fat count.  This will be the most supportive approach for your sugar gliders’ long and happy life.  And next time they wink at your with their big, black, clear eyes for another great meal served, feel good about your choices!

‘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!