Dear Arnold – I thought I smelled a skunk!
I just got two new baby sugar gliders (8 weeks out of pouch) this week and they are so cute. They are still scared of me and I know it will take some time for them to get used to me, but I have a question about their smell. I thought I smelled something sort of like a skunk smell? Do they make a smell like this? Is this smell from the boy?
Mom to Venus and Mars
Both Venus and Mars can make a smell that’s just outta this world! Methinks you’ve encountered the flower power. When suggies get really scared, we can excrete a substance from some scent glands by the base of our tails. And you hoomans do think it smells a little bit like a skunk thing, ‘cept it doesn’t linger around like a skunk. Skunks are much more talented in this department than we are – we are mere amateurs! Both boys and girls can make this smell. But as soon as you make friends with us and we are no longer scared, we won’t make the smell any more. For those of you who’ve never experienced the flower power, it’s a very faint skunk like smell and some peeples even refer to it as skunking. It won’t hang around but for a few minutes and then it’s gone. And if ya read Lisa’s article later on, you won’t have to ‘vacuate your house over it or nuttin. It’s just a little signal that your suggies are still scared and it will pass in short time. If Mars isn’t neuterized like me, wait til he gets to be a big boy. His man glands will produce a smell that us gliders are really proud of! Skunking is mere baby stuff.
Pet Fashion Week
So if you peeples haven’t heard, there’s this thang called “Pet Fashion Week” in New York that got started last year in August. Our Lady of Pouches here at SunCoast (dat’s the peeple who makes our pouches) got to go last year and she said it was lots of fun watching furry critterz of all kindz working their stuffz down the runway. Check it out here:
It sounds like fun and all, but in my role as Chief Executive Glider / Sugar Glider Officer here at SunCoast, methinks dat it sounds very expensive. So my brilliant idea was to bring Pet Fashion Week directly to you with my new Arnold On Trend Fashion Pouch line for you and your sugar gliders. Now dat’s a hot look, no? Yer very own favorite marsupial of all time is couture sugar glider extraordinaire! Now when my mum tree (errrrrr, dat’s Lisa) has me in my new Skull & Crossbones pouch, I can’t stop meself from repeating “Work da runway, Mum Tree; work it; own it” – yuk yuk yuk!
Do Sugar Gliders Make Good Classroom Pets?
I am often contacted by school teachers, particularly science teachers, interested in keeping sugar gliders as classroom pets. Generally speaking, my opinion is that gliders do not make good classroom pets for a variety of reasons. I have met a few teachers over the years, however, that have done it successfully and I’ll go into those details further down.
The reasons sugar gliders do not make good classroom pets are as follows. First, gliders are nocturnal and school is held during the day, so what exactly are the kids going to see? Sleepy sugar gliders?
Next, the sugar gliders are not going to be bonded to the majority of the kids in the classroom. So now what you have in the classroom are sleepy AND grouchy sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders also need fresh meals offered each evening, after the time most kids leave to go home. So is the teacher going to hang around to feed them? And who is coming around on weekends to care for them?
Classrooms are typically made up of a diverse group of young people, some of them having a knack with animals, and others a bit fearful of new animals they’ve not seen before. It would be extremely challenging to get the sugar gliders to be friendly with such a large group of strangers. Sugar gliders react to fear, and if a student is fearful, this is the student “most likely to get bit”.
So now you know my reasons why I feel sugar gliders don’t naturally make good classroom pets. But now I will tell you a scenario that worked quite well for sugar gliders, teacher and students. I met a high school biology teacher several years ago who had a particular interest in sugar gliders personally and always wanted a pair as part of his life. His classroom was set up in two rooms, a teaching room and a lab. The lab was often unoccupied. When he purchased his two sugar gliders, he also bought two identical cages. One habitat was kept at his home; the other in his lab. He would bring his sugar gliders to school only on selected days and only started this after his two sugar gliders were extremely well bonded to him. I also think it is important to note that he chose two neutered males because males tend to do better with strangers than the female sugar gliders do.
On days that his sugar gliders were available for the students to visit, he would hold them and allow the students to pet them. If the sugar glider chose to go to a student, that was allowed. But students were not allowed to interact or handle the sugar gliders without the teacher being present.
I think in this case, he did many things right. The sugar gliders were really his pets, thus the responsibility for their feeding and care was his as well. The gliders lived predominately at his home. He chose male gliders, which are typically more suitable for exhibit and demonstration. He had a classroom setup that was non-disruptive for the sugar gliders for most of the time they were present at the school. He taught high school students, which we might assume are more mature and responsible than elementary or middle school kids.
I also asked Arnold his opinion about this scenario and Arnold said “No school – we’ze are smart enuff already!”
There comes a time many of us may have to leave our homes suddenly, due to natural disasters. Of course, living in Florida, we are highly vulnerable to hurricanes. But we have also been plagued by an abundant number of wildfires in recent years as well. You may live somewhere that tornadoes, mud slides, flash floods or earthquakes could be potential threats. Mother Nature is a powerful force and when she chooses to flex her muscles a bit, we are best advised to be prepared to get out of her way.
Having a good evacuation plan and the supplies you need packed – and ready to go in advance of an impending event – is the only real way you can insure the safety of you, your family and pets if a forced evacuation order is given. Please do not wait until the last minute to make these plans! Too many people feel that with 24-48 hours notice, they can pull together everything they need before leaving town. This is wishful thinking, because the fact is, stores run out of the most needed items quickly at times like this. And even if supplies are good, lines are long and the clock is ticking.
It is too easy to prepare in advance and your time is best used securing your home, loading your car and getting out of town ahead of the masses. Highway gridlocks and gas shortages are common, and even something as basic as drinking water may be hard to find if you wait too long.
I’m sure if you live in an area prone to such events, there is a ton of information available on how to get yourself and your family out of harm’s way. I’ve even seen lists of items for dogs and cats, but I’ve never seen a list of how to prepare to hit the road with sugar gliders. That is, until now!
Items you will need are:
1. A travel cage
2. Feed Cups
3. Water Bottle
4. Sleeping pouch
5. Bonding pouch
6. Bedding Material
7. Bottled Water
8. Food that will not spoil and does not require refrigeration
9. Toys (not critical, but very nice to have along)
My ideal preparation kit includes these items. I purchase them in advance of the event and suggest that you put everything in its own carry case. All of my items, except my travel cages, are stored in one large Rubbermaid type bin. My thinking is that it will be much easier (particularly when you have a lot of animals) to get set up at stopovers if all the sugar glider stuff is in one place, all the dogs’ necessities are in one place and all the important people stuff is together in its own place.
You might evacuate by either car or airplane, so you will need to consider this in advance when having to transport animals, as well as their supply kits.
Now I would like to take a look at a couple of these items in more detail and make some suggestions on products that we have found makes life under pressure a lot easier.
First I want to discuss travel cages. For years, we have kept a bunch of fold down wire cages on hand for the sole purpose of evacuation. These cages are packed six to a box, tend to get tangled up on each other when it is time to use them, take about fifteen minutes each to assemble, require additional reinforcement to prevent glider escapes (which makes them more challenging to disassemble) and were smaller than our gliders are used to and just generally inefficient.
We also tried a more portable cage version, but with the number of gliders we have, and a practical consideration of how much space we will really have available should we have to evacuate, these were too big, complicated to assemble, difficult to hang sugar glider accessories in and hard to keep gliders out of their own droppings.
Now we found a new travel cage that we love. This cage pops up in less than two minutes, is secure for gliders by design, and we’ve retrofitted it with a few extra accessories to make easy solutions for cleaning up droppings and for hanging feed cups, sleeping pouches and water bottles. Not only is this travel solution great for evacuation, but for normal planned vacations as well.
We offer two sizes, so you can choose to travel with the gliders actually in the pop up travel cage, or if you need the car space for more people and supplies, you can travel with the sugar gliders in a bonding pouch and have a quick way to assemble habitat when you have arrived at your planned destination (it takes up very little room in the car when flattened out). F
Feed cups, water bottles, bonding and sleeping pouches are things you are likely to have on hand already. You may even want to keep some extras on hand already packed in your sugar glider evacuation kit, or keep a checklist taped to the top of your kit to make sure you can add any last minute items quickly, without forgetting something that may be important.
Don’t forget some sort of bedding material to use when you get where you are going. A couple of old newspapers, or even a few rolls of paper towels, will be easy, convenient items to have on hand. You really don’t want to go hunting for things when you get to where you are going. I can pretty much promise, you will be tired after a long journey. And you will still have to get yourself, and your family, settled in to your temporary quarters, pet habitats set up, and meals prepared. If you can avoid having to go find necessary items at the end of the journey, you will be extremely glad you were prepared ahead of time.
Bottled water is essential as well. You may end up some place where the drinking water quality is poor, so I suggest you bring at least one quart of bottled water per pair of sugar gliders. This should cover you for at least a few days until more can be procured.
Preparing your kit with non spoilable food is perhaps the most important thing you can do. I am not a huge fan of feeding sugar gliders baby food in excess. But baby food plays a large role in our evacuation plans. We feel that we must be prepared for ice shortages, as this in very common during hurricane evacuations and many glider food products must be refrigerated. You will also need to use up much of your ice chest space with food and provisions for your human family members, particularly if you have a baby.
Our evacuation kit includes primarily Wholesome Balance, a variety of baby foods such as chicken, sweet potato, peaches, pears and applesauce. We also bring along a supply of Zoomed canned crickets,grasshoppers and mealworms. Please note, however, that the canned bugs must be refrigerated after opening. We know that we can easily go through full cans because of the numbers of gliders that would be traveling with me, personally. So bring the cans, but don’t open them unless you can either use them all at once, or you have access to refrigeration at your destination.
We do plan to bring yogurt as well, at the risk that it may spoil during travel if we run out of ice before getting someplace we can store it safely. We also have fresh apples and pears listed on our plan, because these will stay for awhile without refrigeration and we will have fresh fruit for ourselves as well as our sugar gliders. And don’t forget to bring their supplements as well. It is our goal to keep things as normal as possible for our animals, but we know we have to be prepared for events that may deprive us of access to ice and refrigeration. Fact is, we are much more likely to have a storm experience that doesn’t require evacuation, that could still leave us without electricity for weeks. There may be reasons why supply trucks can only get certain items in to restock grocery stores, so having an adequate stock of supplies on hand in advance is the only way you can insure proper care of your pets during natural disasters.
Having to leave one’s home on short notice may be one of the most stressful events we can experience as a society. So do yourself a huge favor and keep your stress levels lower through preparedness.
We wish such events were not part of our reality, but they are. Ignoring the possibilities only puts you and your pets at greater risk and it is our wish that you all stay safe, secure and not lacking in any of the essentials.
‘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!