Update of HR 669: Legislation that could impact you!

By Lisa

Last month we told you about some pending legislation that could impact the keeping of sugar gliders and all species of animals non-native to the U.S.  Shortly after we sent out our last newsletter, an initial hearing was held at the Committee level to debate the content of this proposed legislation.  I’ve been following the information as posted on the PIJAC website found here.

When we posted this information last month in the newsletter, the response was rather overwhelming.  The responses fell into three primary categories: “panic”, “what can we do to stop this?”, and “Lisa, don’t you think you’re overreacting just a bit?”.

This legislation is in its early stages and not close to becoming law at this time.  I fully concur with the position of PIJAC on the key issues at hand AND the proper approach to see that this bill does not become law in any way close to its current form.

As stated on the PIJAC website, we need not take a panic driven approach to making our voices heard. When corresponding with those in a position to influence this outcome, we need to offer a professional and well thought position. That is, if we have any desire to really be taken seriously.

We did correspond with our Congressmen and let our feelings be known as breeders of non native species.  Let me clarify a couple of things in regard to this bill.  It does appear that the language now would grandfather in anyone who presently keeps such pets, should this bill make it to law.  So that might make you heave a huge sigh of relief.  But I also know that most of you care about all animals deeply.  So while you may sigh relief on your own behalf, please consider what happens to all those animals (not just sugar gliders) that are presently in breeding programs?  This is what I personally find distressing about the current language in the bill. 

Now insofar as “major breeders” go, we are certainly on the very small side of the spectrum.  But what happens to these animals?  One email I got last month suggested that I was encouraging others to release their animals should this law come to fruition.  I will apologize publicly if that is what it sounded like I was saying.  But here are the facts.  There are only three courses of action available to a breeder should this law pass.

The first course of action is the most desirable, but the hardest to make happen.  And that course of action would be to set up all the animals into non breeding colonies or neuter all the males.  Then it would be the responsibility of the breeder to continue to maintain all of these animals with proper nutrition, proper housing and proper vet care.  This would create tremendous expense and most breeders that I know would simply not be able to afford to do this either financially nor time wise.  We would all be out looking for other jobs at that point in time.  The next course of action would be to euthanize most, if not all of these animals.  I don’t know about you, but the mere thought of that makes my stomach churn.  That only leaves one other choice and that is to release the animals and that goes against the very reason this bill is being proposed in the first place. 

I’m just trying to paint a realistic picture here of what could happen if that bill passes.  So please visit the PIJAC website often to keep tabs on what is going on with this situation and act accordingly.  The best way to avoid three lousy choices is to make sure this doesn’t happen in the first place.  It does not take long to email your representatives. Write one letter and send it to many.  And please, be professional and courteous in your correspondence.

We should as a society share concerns for what types of animals make appropriate pets and we should as a society share concerns for animal safety and welfare.  This bill, however, is not a feasible answer to such problems.

I do not intend to continue discussion of this issue month in and month out, as you now have the resources at your fingertips to follow this on your own.  I will only announce news when something major happens in this process going forward.  So please follow this on your own and find a few minutes to make a difference.  Our collective voices are being heard and we need to keep it going.

Dear Arnold: Can sugar gliders have too many toys?

By Arnold

OK now.  I’m going to fess up on this one.  We’ve never really received any emails directly asking this question quite like this.  But what we do get all the time are pictures from people showing us how they set up their sugar glider habitats.  And some people really should be asking this question.  So, I’ll step aside and let Arnold take it away!

Phew!  You woke me up for this?  Gosh Lisa, youze know how much me likes toys.  But ya showed me some of da pitchers you got from hoomans and some of those habitats are just stuffed full of toys.  Just as much as me and my posse luvs us some toys, we also love to have spacious large areas to jump around in.  Jumpin’ around is a favorite glider pastime.

So listen up me fine furless friends.  A LOT of toys is a great thing. BUT don’t put them all in our homes all at one time.  What we really want is a good variety of fun activities AND space to jump and climb. And change the toys out every week or two.  Us suggies will treat that toy we haven’t seen in a month or two as a brand new toy!  So you can make every week like our birthdays by mixing it up, but not cramming us in.

This is a case of too much of a good thing!  It’s really about feng shui, not feng squeeze.  So if yer hooman has 20-30 play gadgets in yer home, next time they open the door …. Bite em! Hehehehe … this usually gets their attention!

Then tell em to read this important stuff from me.

Now hoomans, this is NOT yer permission to stop spoilin us or not buying us new things.  Jes remember, we need our space … and we need our toys … jumpin and playin … playin and jumpin … it tis what we love to do!

Have a picky eater?  Here’s a magic bullet

By Lisa

Fact is, it can be tough to get sugar gliders to eat all of the different foods they should eat.  Sometimes they decide they only like certain things and ignore the rest.  Here’s a solution that works for us.

Late last year, we sent a couple of baby gliders to a lady out West and she kept telling me about this thing she has called a magic bullet.  She wanted to know if it would be OK to make her own “baby food” using this handy little gadget.  Well, it was something I simply couldn’t answer because I didn’t know what she was talking about.  Obviously I don’t watch enough TV as this was a big “as seen on TV” item I’ve since learned.  I did, however, add this to my very long of list of things to do because from what she told me it sounded very interesting.  So here’s the bulletin on the magic bullet.

Last month, I had the good fortune to meet a lady named Gina who works part time at my doggy groomers.  I needed some part time help and Gina was interested in a part time job working with animals. Gina is now the newest member of the SunCoast family.

I started telling Gina about the magic bullet idea and as fate goes, she happened to have one and she brought it over.  We’ll we’ve been having a great time with this little gadget and I’ve since gone out and bought my own.  The magic bullet is a tiny little blender that is super easy to use and super easy to clean up.  I really like the super easy to clean up part!

For years, I’ve tried to keep our weaning group of joeys on a diet plan closely following the same diet we feed our adults.  But there are certain foods the young joeys didn’t eat very well.  For example, we feed raw sweet potatoes once per week.  But the joeys were not eating these really well, so on that night we would feed them sweet potato baby food.  We had the same situation on bug nights.  We have a mealworm night, a cricket night and a grasshopper night each week.  But I’ve found that I would have to give a different source of protein to the joeys on those nights because they didn’t know what to do with the bugs.

Here’s my theory on why joeys are not always great bug eaters.  On those days we feed bugs to our breeding gliders, I don’t care what time of day it is, most of the adults will wake up immediately and eat all of the bugs out of their feed dishes.  Those adults with joeys out of pouch will leave the babies in the nest box and eat all of the bugs before the joeys come out.  We observe the parents starting the weaning process with joeys all the time.  When it is time to start weaning, Mom and/or Dad will show the joeys where the food is and encourage them to eat.  This can be very cute at times as some gliders will use their front “hands” to push the joeys’ heads toward the feed dishes.  Parents do teach their young to eat.  Parents also tend to hog all the bugs, so the babies are not taught by parents about these particular foods (at least at our facility).  So a lot of babies avoid the bugs because “those are Mum’s and Dad’s”.

Now with my magic bullet we are making bug baby food.  So now our babies are on exactly the same diet as the adults each and every night.  On nights when adults get carrots and crickets, we puree the carrots and crickets together with just a wee bit of nectar to make it blend into more of a smoothie consistency.  The joeys are now eating all of their fresh foods and not picking out their favorites and leaving the other stuff they are not so sure about behind.

I think feeding fresh foods is ALWAYS better than using stuff that is pre-packaged, like baby food.  Now that we are making our own baby food, we aren’t buying the jar stuff anymore (except as part of our hurricane evacuation kit because it does not need refrigeration until the jar is opened).

A lot of people have been using blender foods for sugar gliders for years such as with the BML diet plan.  The difference is that we are making a new menu each night for our joey sugar gliders by using the Magic Bullet, so they are getting a much wider variety and because the Bullet is compact, you can make a little or you can make a lot very quicky and easily.  Did I mention that cleanup is a snap?

We still feed our adults the fresh foods as is, but we’ve been playing around with the pureed food with some of those adult gliders that have not been eating particular foods very well, and guess what?  It is working like a charm.

I got my Magic Bullet from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The everyday price is 49.99 but Bed, Bath, Beyond is always sending out 20% off coupons.  So you see, it’s not a big investment and it sure is easy to use.  Quit stocking up on that baby food and get fresh!  Our large family gives two thumbs up to fresh as best!

‘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!