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,
I was watching my local news one night and I think I saw your Mommy Tree, Lisa, on TV.  But then I wasn’t sure because I didn’t see you.  Was that really Lisa?  And if it was, how could she go on TV and not bring you along?

Dear Daphne,
Yup!  That was me mommy tree.  They may call you Daphne, but I now call Lisa Daffy!  What was she thinking?  She gets invited to be on a show called “The Pet Report with Mitch Wilder and Buddy” and she leaves me at home?  Sniff Sniff … I’m deeply wounded.  We’ve since made amends, but at first I was quite put out by the whole thing.  To read more about Mitch Wilder, you can click here.

When she came home that night, I tried to kick her karate style with me back foot, and oops, forgot I’m missing that foot.  So I jumped through the air, slicing and dicing nothing more than air!  Then me proceeded to have a conniption.  Me never knew eggsactly what a conniption was before, but I had one and it was a doozy!  Now there is a cure for conniptions and hurt feelings and the cure is simple.  I’ll give you a hint.  It starts with “meal” and ends with “worm”!  So finally we kissed and made up after I bit her nose a few times and then me ‘splained some facts to her:

1- Me chief and she Indian.  Stuff like this should be cleared by me as the Sugar Glider Officer (SGO) in advance

2 – Don’t wake me up in the mornin’ to ask me nuthin’, unless you come bearin’ gifts

Tree – I mean, 3 – This show was seen by a mere one million peeples.  If Daffy…err I mean Lisa…would have brought me along, it would have been seen by a lot more peeples!

So its her bad and she’s sowwy and I hope other peeples got to see the show too, ‘cuz some of our babies were there gliding and making a mess of Mitch’s studio and havin’ a really good time.

Take care Daphne
Arnold “I wanna be on TV” Schwarzenglider

And before me signs off, just wanted to say high to my buds Suko and Dex, also known as Sucrose and Dextrose.  How sweet it is!

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.

Sugar Glider Diets Revisited Part II – Weaning Joeys

by Lisa

Back in July we started a special edition article on Revisiting Sugar Glider Diets.  To read this article, click here. It is our intention in this series to help demystify this all-important aspect of sugar glider husbandry.  As we wade through the fact and fiction, we will share tips with you on how to keep the plan of nutrition simple, yet effective.  This month, I want to answer yet another frequently asked question regarding appropriate menu selections for weaning joeys.

Let’s start off by a brief discussion of the appropriate time to wean joeys.  It is commonly accepted that joeys may be weaned at 8 weeks out of pouch and we encourage all small breeders to stick with this accord.  In other words, let the joey, or joeys, stay with the parents for a full 8 weeks.  In our extensive experience, sugar glider parents are typically very good parents and the more you can let mother nature do her thing, the healthier your joeys will ultimately be (assuming you are feeding the parents a good healthy diet such as the one recommended by Dr C!)

Too many people want to pull the joeys earlier and hand feed them. This is simply not a good idea and is also unnecessary in order to have joeys develop good glider / human relations.  There is no formula in existence that can come close to the perfection of nature.  Even if there was a formula that could emulate nature perfectly in nutrition content, we still do not have a successful proven method to pass on those all important immunities that are passed from mothers nursing their offspring.  You see, it is handling – not feeding – that gets sugar gliders to trust their human companions.  But in order to hand feed, you must first handle the animal, right?  

Sugar glider parents will begin the weaning process on their own. Let’s face it, sugar gliders have thrived for thousands of years in the wild without our intervention, so they are very well prepared to handle the job flawlessly.  Parent gliders will start weaning joeys at slightly varying ages and we’ve even witnessed some moderate variations in how it is done.  Basically, some mothers will put the babies on “ignore” at some point and disallow nursing, which naturally encourages a hungry youngster to venture to the food dish on its own and make its first attempts at eating offered meals.

On the flip side, one of the cutest stories I have ever heard is about a Daddy glider who would corral his joeys to the food dish and then use his paws to push their little heads toward the food dish and towards the water bottle until they finally “got it”.  Sugar gliders have a group mentality and much of their behavior is learned.  Keeping joeys with the parents for an appropriate length of time allows the joeys to learn their survival lessons naturally.

As this process occurs, it begs the question on what the human caretakers should do and what foods should be offered when joeys are starting to naturally wean.  Well, the answer is very simple.  Just do what you’ve done all along – we do not offer anything special to joeys as they are weaning.  For the most part, we feed our joeys on the same rotation as our adults.  Joeys don’t need softer foods (keeping in mind our adult diet already includes a soft pellet staple food) and joeys don’t need “baby food” (keeping in mind that we will rotate chicken baby food through the menu rotation on occasion for both adults and joeys).

The only difference between our joey menu and our adult menu traditionally has been that on mealworm night, we may offer the joeys something they are more used to like chicken baby food.  I’ll delve into this issue deeper next month when I provide you with a week-long, detailed version of the SunCoast diet plan.  

The reason we do this is not because baby gliders can’t eat mealworms, but because most baby gliders don’t know “how” to eat mealworms or crickets yet.  It seems to be a learned and / or acquired activity, even though it is natural for sugar gliders to eat bugs in the wild.  For example, a couple of months ago, our in-house mealworm farm grew to over abundant proportions, so for fun, I started feeding just-weaned joeys mealworms to see what happened and a good percentage of them were able to master the feat.  

This just gave us more evidence of a sugar glider’s group mentality!  Check this out:

In the joey cages where all mealworms were eaten in a single night, I thought I’d try a little informal experiment.  I took one of the joeys from a “mealworm overachiever” cage and put it in a cage where all the joeys were underachieving on mealworm consumption.  As I suspected, the underachievers started to get with the program and began to eat the wiggly, tasty morsels.

From there, I began to wonder why the parents weren’t teaching their joeys about mealworms during the natural weaning process.  My theory on this may be summed up in one word: greed!  OK, that may sound a bit harsh, but for those of you who feed live bugs, you know what gluttonous little buggers our glider friends can be.  From my observations, the parent gliders will get up any time day or night on live mealworm days to indulge in this delicacy.  “Oooops! Forgot to wake the kids again!”  I guess the parent gliders figure that when their offspring are big and strong enough to deserve mealworms, mealworms they, too, shall have!

In summary, the glider diet does not have to be a complicated, rocket science adventure.  Good variety in the diet, with foods of appropriate consistency, works well for both adults and weaning sugar gliders.  In the upcoming months, we have more information to share with you on this topic and a couple of new doctors to introduce you to as well.  We are particularly pleased to be working with Dr Ellen Dierenfield right now.  Dr Ellen has a PhD in Animal Nutrition and will be adding her expert viewpoint to further enhance the information provided by our own Dr C!

So, be sure to tune in next month, when we will demonstrate a sample of the SunCoast menu over a one-week time frame.  

In health and happiness, we send our best wishes to sugar gliders everywhere and the people who love them!