Scrawny 8 Week OOP Joeys
by Lisa

Why Are SunCoast’s Eight Week Old Gliders So Big?

“I have a glider now and your babies are almost as big as my adult.” As I sat down to write this article, the phone rang.  It was a customer who just got her joeys yesterday.  I found it rather funny that as I sit to address this topic, someone calls to ask me the same question again.  I think, maybe this situation is far more common out there than we think?  Is it just some breeders are pulling joeys too early?

Why is it that people who’ve bought gliders elsewhere and then get a joey or joeys from us are astounded by the difference in the size of our babies and their previously purchased sugar gliders?

Many of these people had their single glider for a year or more, so these gliders are assuredly adults and our babies are sometimes the same size.  What’s up with that?

To me, the answer is simple – quality, well-balanced nutrition, and proven husbandry practices.  We wean the babies directly to the adult diet; we do not use a transitional diet because the parents have already started to wean the babies themselves. 

We let Nature guide the process and don’t force the joeys from the parents by separation before they are ready.  We basically make our own “baby foods” out of the same foods the adults are getting if the baby doesn’t eat this food on their own.  For example, on Tuesdays we feed crickets and carrots.  We give the adults crickets and carrots in their natural form.  We puree crickets and carrots for the babies and add a little apple juice for moisture along with supplements, so each mouthful is balanced and they can’t pick around and eat what they like best, as most baby sugar gliders tend to do.  Plus, the joeys start to eat the Wholesome Balance pellet food as early as 6 weeksOOP, which provides a lot of micro-nutrients essential to good animal health, as determined by professional exotic animal nutritionists.

As far as husbandry goes, gliders that are bred in confined conditions with poor nutrition have scrawny babies.  Gliders that are over-bred have scrawny babies.  Joeys that are not weaned to a proven nutritious diet tend to be scrawny.  Joeys that are pulled too soon from their parents tend to be scrawny.

We have a continual waiting list for our joeys.  Eight weeks old is the standard that we comply with on when our joeys leave us.  We believe that any sooner is too soon and does not give them the best possible start in life.  In the State of Florida where I live, it is against the law to sell puppies before they are eight weeks old.  Let’s see how many times I talk about dogs in this newsletter!  What can I say, I love sugar gliders AND dogs.

I have had the experience of people questioning whether or not I really sent them eight week old joeys – they’re so big, they must be older, you know.  But here’s the thing: SunCoast always has a waiting list for joeys.  So, if we were just about the money, we’d send them earlier, right?  And they’d be smaller?  Why would we hang on to them?  The problem is not with our joeys, the problem is that the first sugar glider, or sugar gliders, acquired by the family were not raised under ideal conditions and unfortunately, are scrawny.

We pride ourselves and honor our breeding sugar gliders by doing our best to help them produce big, fluffy, healthy joeys.  We don’t do scrawny.  If we find that a particular female is having undersized joeys, we retire her instantly.  It’s just that simple.  Scrawny joeys are a sure sign Mom has had enough breeding in her lifetime!

When joeys are pulled too young, which some breeders do, they are smaller.  They are easier to handle, because they are weaker.  They can also be deprived of a well developed immune system, which is the result of drinking Mother’s milk.  Humans can never reproduce the same and right levels of nutrition that comes from nursing.  Yet some breeders release their joeys early because of the “ahhhh” factor –  little is so appealing to many people.  But too little could also indicate too young or not well bred.

Also, a six week old joey is easier to handle than an eight week old joey, so some breeders sell them younger so they don’t need to deal with new customers learning to acclimate and bond with their new friends.  And if you’ve never had a glider experience before, how would you know the difference?  It is easy to convince someone who’s never seen a sugar glider before that they are of a certain age, when in fact, they are not the age being represented.

I’ve seen this firsthand.  I’ve had quite a few people over the years come with a sugar glider they recently purchased that was stated at 10 – 12 weeks old, and my 8 week old joeys are significantly larger.

Sometimes pet stores, breeders, brokers simply don’t tell the truth – the whole truth and nuttin’ but the truth – about age!  Do your research; too good to be true usually is.  If you want to see what gliders typically look like at each week, 1 week – 5 weeks, see pics here.  The tail starts to fluff at about 5 weeks, so a fluffy tail does not mean the joey is 8 weeks old.  

Big and fluffy rocks!

Don’t Hesitate to go to the Vet! 
by Lisa

I am an avid dog lover.  I’ve had dogs my whole life and quite honestly, it is the heart and connection of sugar gliders that has drawn me to them so strongly.  I think like dogs, gliders have very loyal hearts once bonded.  Dogs and sugar gliders both really want to spend time with us, and to me, that is a huge plus and a very attractive quality in both species.

I make many trips to the veterinary office.  Someone around here, be it dog or sugar glider, is always due for their wellness visit.  Even with the attention to regular ongoing veterinary care, things come up and this past month my dog Georgia developed a baseball size mass on the back of her leg in less than three weeks.  She had just had her wellness visit six weeks ago.

I made an emergency appointment with my vet to bring in Georgia to have the lump examined.  Before I left the vet’s office that day, I had to make a very, very difficult decision.

Georgia has a few lipoma (fatty tumors) lumps on her body.  She is approaching the grand age of 10 and this is normal for Labradors.  The vet thought upon first exam that her large and rapidly growing lump was just another lipoma.  To diagnose lipoma, an extraction is taken with a needle and then the fluids are examined to confirm the diagnosis.  Diagnosing is often about the process of elimination.  Well, the first bit of bad news hit me like a ton of bricks.  If you happened to speak to me on the phone last week, you might have noticed, I was not quite myself.

The test did not come back lipoma.  The next most likely condition, which would need to be confirmed via biopsy and xrays, was bone cancer.  For those of you who are fellow dog lovers, bone cancer is up there with just about the worst news possible.  It is often not curable, spreads quickly and the best one can do is to keep their pet comfortable at that point.

We scheduled the biopsy for the next morning.  I am an optimist by nature, almost Pollyanna-ish, and this was very unwelcome news to me.  But I needed to know if the lump was indeed cancer.  Most veterinarians will provide estimates for such procedures in advance.

The reality is, such procedures may look like they are estimated in dog dollars, but it is really people dollars.  In other words, veterinary care is expensive.  I have a special savings fund for my vet care needs as I never want the issue of “is this financially feasible” to be part of my decision making process.  Unfortunately, many people have pets where the financial issue will guide their choices; and not just for their pets – I know people who do it to themselves as well.  “I can delay that dental work, I’ll have that mole checked out later, I’m sure my acid reflux is nothing really, etc.”

Now to the good news!  Georgia’s biopsy came back that the tumor was indeed lipoma, but it was on the hip bone, under the muscle and around her sciatic nerve.  So the vet removed the tumor instead of just doing a biopsy as planned and she assured me with confidence that Georgia would make a full recovery.  And boy oh boy, has she ever!  Now my challenge with her is keeping her from running and jumping, because she has a fanny full of stitches!

My friends, sometimes all we can do is the best we can do.  We try and make good decisions and we win some and we lose some.  It’s hard for all of us to not second guess our choices, and right now I’m just very grateful that I didn’t have to make a life or death call on my beloved Georgia.  To me, putting an animal down is THE hardest decision of having fuzzy family members.  

So please don’t hesitate to take your animals to the vet at the first signs of trouble.  And I realize times are tough for many, but if you can, consider creating an emergency vet care fund of your own so you can more easily handle these situations when they arise.

Send Me an Ornery One!
By Lisa

Every single person getting this newsletter is an animal lover, no doubt.  Some people are just in the curiosity stage and others of us are in full blown glideritis mode.

Once in a blue moon, when talking to a prospective glider keeper, I get an unusual request.  That request is to “give me an ornery one”.

It tickles me to pieces to know that there are people out there who want to take on the burden of the misfit, invite the burden into their lives with full intention to make friends with those animals who may be shunned and unwanted by others.

To those of you who ask for the ornery one, or want the dog with three legs (there she goes on dogs again) or otherwise challenged animal, I just wanted to publicly say thank you.  You are my heroes and your inspiration and love for animals is heartfelt and true.

You simply rock my world!

‘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!