Frequently Asked Question:
Do sugar gliders make good pets for kids?
by Arnold, with a little help from Lisa
O Boy! O Joy! What a lucky little suggie I am! I can’t believe I get two places in the newsletter this month … maybe we should tell people to contact “Arnold The Great, c/o Arnold’s House in Sunshiny Florida” … or “Mr. Arnold, c/o The Sugar Shack – the State Down Under”
Arnold, Lisa here. Stop this! We are going to have to feed you a little humble pie.
I like the sound of that. Yes please, let’s have some pie tonight.
Arnold, it’s not that kind of pie! Just once, you should try to remember what we are supposed to be doing here!
OK, OK, alright already! As you know we raise lots of little sugar babies here and every week new lucky humans get to call our sugar babies their own. But lots of times we get calls from peoples that want to buy sugar babies for their little childrens and methinks that’s a bad idea! See, we need lots of love, care and attention and we lives a long time. Would you let your 10 year old raise your 2 year old?! Us suggies are sorta like little kids ourselves. We need a good diet and kids might want to feed us stuff like chocolate, popcorn or other junky foods that could make us really sick. And it’s not the little two leggers fault stuff like this happens, they are just trying to be nice and share just like their parental beings have trained them to do. It’s kinda like this … we’re not hamsters!
The biggest thing we hear from peoples that wants our sugar baby joeys is stuff like, “But you don’t know my kid. My kid is the most responsible kid in the world and is going to grow up to be a famous vet one day and loves animals the mostest in all of life.” We love to hear people have fabulous little furless wonders cause we thinks the world needs more responsible childrens to run the world some day! Now lemme try to explain why gliders aren’t a good idea for chidrens…
First, here’s a question to you big humans … would you trust your young children to make good decisions on what they should eat everyday if they had to prepare their own foods every night and could have anything they wanted? Just try taking a kid to one of those cafeteria places and tell him or her they can have whatever they wants, but they have to have three different things. Cake, cookies and ice cream are three different things, right?!
OK, so now you might thinks to yersef I can get these sugar babies for my short person, but I’ll take care of the feeding and they can do everything else. But youngster folk are supposed to do and try lots of things – like school, homework, little league, clubs and other adventures. What’s gonna happen to all the love and attention for the gliders when this young human goes to high school or college? WHO’S GONNA TAKE CARE OF THE SUGGIES? We shouldn’t be ignored, ya know … it’s not good fer us. And for the love of mealworms, don’t just think if that happens that you can just give your suggies to someone else cause that’s really mean. When we come to love our humans we don’t wants to go nowhere else cause it makes us stressful, confused and sad. If ya don’t think ya can keep us ferever, then please don’t get us at all!
One time this youngster dude was talking to Lisa and she asked him how ya gonna take care of a sugar glider when you go to college? And he says I’ll just bring my glider with me. And she says what if you go outta state and the college rules are that you have to stay in a dorm the first year and ya can’t have no critters? And he says I just won’t go there. And she says what if you get a full scholarship to a top rated college? And he says I just won’t go there. Now does that sound like someone responsible enough to take care of a glider?
Listen up youngsters! Even me Arnold went to college and going to a good college is important. Meself went to an Ivy Leaf school called Barkvard University. I could’ve gone to Tale or Pranceton too if I wanted … but I got to go cause I didn’t have no little humans to take care of …. yuk yuk yuk. See, if I woulda had a little human I wouldn’t have had no time to enjoy me Ivy Leaf experience to the fullest. You shouldn’t load yersef up with too much responsibility when ya gotta lotta really cool stuff to look forward to. When ya get to be a big peoples one day, ya can have as many suggies as ya want!
Now before me signs off I’d just like to let the big peoples know that sharing a sugar glider experience with your young people can be a really cool thing. But I hope you’ll supervise your really little people when handling suggies cause sometimes little people like to hug hard and that might be bad. But sharing special friends like sugar gliders with yer whole fambly can be fun and educational if ya do it as one big ever-loving fambly. Just let the little kids know stuff like to respect our sleepy time, and to be gentle cause we’re so tiny, and to not feed us stuff unless you know about it, and to not let us out of our habitat without you around, and to not spray nuttin in the air around our home unless you know about that too. Your human famblies are like our glider colonies … and for the right humans, well, us suggies can be just bustin out proud to let you in as members of our colony, I mean fambly. All we need is tons of love!
Kisses and face hugs to you all.
Your buddy, Arnold
Bonding with New Gliders – Part Four
This is Part Four in the series on Bonding. In previous issues of the GliderVet Newsletter, we started the topic of bonding by discussing the importance of the human’s attitude and being in the right mindset to begin this all important process. To review Part 1, click here. Part Two in the bonding series focused more on how the sense of smell is primary in creating that human/glider friendship; click here. Part Three focused on 2 topics concerning age of the gliders being bonded and the length of the process; click here. More advice on Bonding with Sugar Gliders can be found in Parts Five and Six.
This month we are going to share a very fun bonding tip called “Tent Time” by many. It’s proven to be a successful way to enhance bonding with your gliders, while providing a safe place to play if you don’t have a glider proofed area.
We’ve not previously discussed glider proofing, but in a nutshell it means having a space available for night time play time where the sugar gliders can’t get themselves into anything harmful, like small hiding places, electrical outlets, reclining chairs, etc. We will discuss this in more detail in a future issue.
If you don’t feel you have a good glider proofed environment, you might want to consider Tent Time as a safe alternative to play with gliders prior to their being fully bonded. The technique is quite simple. All you need is a small inexpensive camping tent like the type they would sell at Walmart. They run about $20 and the smallest size is totally suitable for this activity. Quite a few people have told us that the small tent is really the best as it will fit in most rooms easily. If you have a bigger tent, you might find it difficult to put up inside of your home.
OK … let the bonding begin. Put your gliders in a carry pouch if they are not yet bonded, or bring them into the tent in their sleeping pouch. Prior to putting yourself and the gliders in the tent, make sure you have some treats on hand. Treats like yogurt or applesauce can be used by dipping your finger in and letting the gliders lick it off. Or you might want to try less messy treats like Arnold’s favorites, yogurt drops and papaya bits.
When you first get situated, invite the gliders out of the pouch and allow them to explore the inside of the zipped up tent. What makes this technique work so well is they can’t get very far away from you. Bring simple toys into the tent like feathers, or string type toys. I suggest the toys you use be the interactive type similar to playing with a kitten. You know you are making progress when the gliders choose to interact with you and your game. Also, they will have a difficult time exploring without having to walk across you … this one on one touch will make them feel more and more comfortable with you the more they realize that you are a safe place. Some people play with their gliders exclusively in a tent as they just don’t have appropriate play space in their home or it’s too difficult to glider proof.
We’ve mentioned in a previous article on bonding that bonding time is best done during the day, while the gliders are inclined to sleep. This is usually the easiest time to handle an un-bonded glider. However, some people’s lifestyles and work schedules do not permit adequate daytime to spend bonding. So tent time is a really good alternative method. Give it a try and if you have some interesting tent stories to share concerning your personal experience, click here.
Now one last word of caution. Never leave gliders in a tent unsupervised and please do not consider using a tent as a permanent habitat or even as a travel cage. The tent seams and windows could be a nail catching hazard and a freaked out glider is not going to feel much like bonding.
Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On… Breeding Sugar Gliders, Part Four
By Dr. C., of course!
If you missed Part One of the article on breeding sugar gliders, click here to review. For Part Two, click here; for part three, click here. This month we will again continue in the question and answer format. So let’s jump right in:
Q: How can you tell if your sugar glider is pregnant?
A: It’s really hard to tell when a glider is pregnant at first. Even after the babies are born and crawl into the pouch, it’s hard to detect. I don’t recommend peeking in the pouch … it could harm the joeys. Her abdomen will continue to expand and you can expect her to get quite large. Remember that expansion on one side of her body indicates one joey in the pouch, while expansion on both sides indicates two joeys in the pouch.
Q: Do sugar gliders mate for life?
A: No, they do not. In the wild, it may be likely that a dominant male in a colony of mixed males and females is the primary breeder. While free range research is still very limited, we can share experiences from our activities at SunCoast. It happens from time to time that sugar gliders will lose a mate. It is our goal to find a new mate or companion for these newly singled gliders as soon as possible. Living in solo conditions is not suitable to the glider’s highly socialized nature. With proper introduction procedures, newly paired gliders become bonded companions in a rather short time frame. These new pairs will often breed soon after the introduction.
Q: Do the joeys still nurse once out of the pouch or do they come out to eat regular food?
A: Joeys will continue to nurse up to 8 weeks or longer. Some time between the fifth and sixth week, the joeys may begin sampling food offerings meant for the adult gliders. It is not uncommon to see a rather young joey tasting an apple or sneaking a lick of canteloupe, but then return to the mother to nurse. Even though the joeys are out of pouch, the head can still fit in the pouch to nurse. When you see your joeys beginning to sample regular food servings, then you know that the weaning process has begun.
Q: Do the parents leave the babies alone to eat normally?
A: In general, with very young just out of pouch joeys, one parent will stay with the young while the other goes out of the nest for nourishment and exercise. But it is not unusual or uncommon for both parents to leave the joey(s) unattended for short periods of time. This is not a sign of abandonment. Allow the parent gliders adequate time to return to the nest. We will further discuss abandonment in a future newsletter as it’s a full topic of discussion on it’s own.
Q: I have a female glider and my friend has a male. How is the best way to breed them?
A: Using male sugar gliders as studs is not really advisable. Male sugar gliders will play a role in child rearing that is beneficial to the female glider and to the joey(s). He will help care for the joeys, help clean them and babysit when the mother glider needs a break. So if you bring two gliders together, are you prepared to leave them together for the duration? Allowing them to merely breed and then subsequently separate them to return to their original households will likely put undue and unnecessary strain on the female as the natural course is for male participation in rearing the young.
Next, if you bring the gliders together and then decide to let them remain together until the young are fully weaned, you now have a bonded colony and separation will be harsh on an emotional level for all of the sugar gliders involved.
Also, due to the territorial nature of sugar gliders, it is not advisable to just put two adults together in a cage without advance preparation and expect it to be love at first sight. Love at first sight is possible, but so are negative reactions and to see sugar gliders fight is brutal and promotes increased possibilities of injury and/or fear. We offered information on introducing sugar gliders in a previous article. To read, click here.
The bottom line is that happy and healthy sugar gliders are more likely to have happy and healthy babies. Setting up more unnatural situations like stud service goes against the nature of this animal and is to be avoided.
Tune back in next month for a brand new topic. If you have any questions about breeding or glider health care issues, send them here and we will do our best to include them 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!
Dr. C. … and thanks Deb!
Dr. Janine M. Cianciolo