A Tribute To Snakeman
By Hope (a.k.a. BMXgirl)

I will never forget Tony.  Neither will many people.

About a year ago I met a man on a message board for Sugar Gliders
– Glider Central.  I had posted a reply to a question on this message board about Sugar Gliders, Iguanas, and Diseases.  This man with the message board nickname of “Snakeman39” came in and replied to the post with what I thought was a very sarcastic attitude.  We ended up arguing back and forth on the message board over the subject of transmittable animal diseases, we even we even started arguing about it through e-mail.

Then, I don’t know what happened.  We started agreeing on lots of things and we became friends.  I started calling him by his name, Tony, instead of his message board name Snakeman39.  I also started to learn a lot from Tony, and started feeling like Tony was a member of the family, sharing in his joys and sorrows.  He would often talk about his three grown children and how proud he was of them and how much he loved them.

Tony had strong opinions and didn’t mind sharing them with others (laughing and smiling).  I thought he seemed to look at everything from a very scientific point of view, I learned really quickly why too….he was a science teacher at a private school.  And let me tell you, the children at that school LOVED him.  They learned so much from Tony because he made learning fun!  He was a very hands-on type teacher and would always have some sort of animals in the classroom for the children to take care of and learn about.  Tony loved his job, I could tell.

Tony had a great sense of humor, and a great love for animals.  He put a lot of effort and care into all animals he came in contact with.  He had this cat.  This cat had the neatest personality of any cat I’ve ever seen in my life.  He called this cat “Sleeps with Iguanas”.  Odd name but fitting – the cat slept and sunbathed with a large Iguana!

I remember a story Tony told me once.  He was in the Navy for several years (Tony had been several different places…all very interesting).  One time he was stationed at this camp and there were several native soldiers there that had caught a Gazelle (I believe, if I remember correctly.)  Well, Tony said he liked that Gazelle and when he found out that the native soldiers were planning on eating the poor thing…he set it free.  The soldiers were not too happy about that one he said (laughing).

Tony had several Sugar Gliders.  He took excellent care of them all and put a lot of effort into making sure they were happy.  He had one Glider in particular, named Bull (Originally named Monster), that was very special to him.  Bull is between 8-10 yrs. old, and came from a bad place and wasn’t in the best of health and didn’t have the greatest attitude either.  

When Tony rescued Bull, it took him several months to get him to calm down and quit attacking and biting.  In Bull’s entire lifetime, he had never been friendly or comfortable around any humans and had been kept locked up in a tiny cage, but Bull learned to love Tony and trust him.  I will never forget how Bull would ride on Tony’s shoulder while he rode his bike back and forth to work  (Tony rode his bike most places).  Several people did not agree with the way Tony cared for his Gliders, letting them roam freely in his Glider proofed bedroom at night while he slept, or the free range diet he chose to feed.  I can honestly say, even though I don’t let mine roam freely, I have never met happier or healthier looking animals.

I feel very privileged to have one of Tony’s Gliders (offspring from his first pair) whom we named Tony, in honor of Tony because we are so fond of him.  Furry Little Tony has been with us for several months now and I’ve never met a sweeter more loving animal in my life.  I’ve learned through Tony that sometimes it’s good not to be such a worry wart about some things and to let our Furry little friends have a little fun – every morning at 5-5:30 am, Tony would awaken to these furry little creatures dancing around his head and shoulders begging for mealworms…Laughing…  He taught many of us quite a bit about Gliders and was always willing to lend a helping hand any way he could concerning them (or any animal for that matter).  Tony spent a good deal of time researching and sharing info with the Glider Community, and helped so many along the way.

There is so much I could say about Tony….there are so many memories I could share.  “I have more memories than if I were a thousand years old.” — Charles Baudelaire 1821-1867

Those of us that had the privilege of meeting Tony, will always remember him.  He truly was a unique and very special person, he had so much to offer and many of us learned a great deal from him (especially those of us in the Glider Community).  Tony will be sorely missed by many, many people.  I know I will miss him terribly.  To all his Family and friends…God Bless you all.  I will think of Tony often and forever share the knowledge he shared with me with others.  Life is so precious.

Howard (Tony) Babcock III
December 13,1939 – May 8,2002

Goodbye my friend, you will always bring a smile to my face….

With Love,
Hope (a.k.a. BMXgirl)


My Real Life Story … well, at least part of it!
By Arnold (with a little help from Debbie)

If I were a rich man .. ta da da da da da dee dee da da da (think Fiddler on the Roof, silly… what?  Don’t know that one?  Well, I’ll have to teach ya something about culture and music another time!) Anywho, if I were a rich man, I would move the whole family to Alaska …yeah, yeah I know, it gets real cold there and I don’t like the cold too much, but if I were a rich man … I could afford a warm cozy house.  Did you know that it is nighttime there for like three months straight? … What a party I would have!

OK, OK, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about this month … I really want to talk about meal worms … my very favorite subject. Now think about this.  Why do you think they call them meal worms … CAUSE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE MY MEAL!  That’s why.

Humans call Lisa all the time and say what kind of worms should they feed their sugar gliders.  Well, at my nudging, she tells them … meal worms.  And then they say, well what about wax worms?  Well, have you ever eaten wax?  It doesn’t make a very good MEAL! And then they say what about earth worms.  When I think of the earth, I think of dirt … now how many tree top dwelling handsome boys like me do you know that eat dirt?  I live above the earth.  I have high standards for my meals … I want meal worms.

Now that we got that straight, I have been asked to discuss a most  serious subject this month.  I don’t really want to talk about it, that’s why I was rambling a lot above.  I just like fun stuff, and this subject is rather painful for me humans.  Let me begin by sharing my full name with you.  It is Mr. Arnold T. Schwarzenglider.  The T stands for Tripod.  I got that name cause I only have three feet.  It doesn’t really bother me anymore.  I can do anything any other gliders can do, cause I’m AHnold!  That’s my real first name AHnold!  I am AHsome!  Not to mention AHdoreable and at times AHdacious … oh  me, I really crack me up sometimes …. Hehehehehe. 

Anywho, you are probably wondering why I only have three legs? Well, as you know I am one of the primary product testers for my store.  And one time Lisa bought me this adorable sleeping contraption and it was made out of a fabric that I was able to unravel and me got me silly little foot caught up real bad.  Lisa had to cut me out with some scissors so I could get free.  It was lined with faux fur, which at first we thought was a good idea.  But you will never find stuff made with faux fur in my store, cause it is dangerous!  So me foot got really infected.  

Dr. C. started me with a lotiony stuff to put on it, but it kept getting worser and worser and Dr. C. said if she didn’t take my foot, I might lose my whole leg or my whole LIFE!  EEEEK!  That did not sound like a very good idea to me.  So Dr. C. gave me some night night gas and when I woke up, my foot didn’t hurt anymore.  It took me awhile to be able to climb really good cause it was my back foot and I would kind of swing around a lot like I was on a trapeze or something.  And still to this day, I kind of glide with a lisp, but I can glide and go really far!  

Soooo … now you know about the meaning of my middle name.  Please make sure all your suggie toys are really safe!  If your suggies are anything like me, their curiosity may just cause them an injury if you leave dangerous stuff lying around!  And even well made toys and pouches and stuff will wear out with time.  So listen up, Big Ole Human!  It is your responsibility to make sure that our stuff is in good shape and always in “new like” condition.  Loose parts or threads can be dangerous to us sugar gliders, so inspect items in our homes often and replace them when needed!

All I can say I’m really glad it wasn’t my front foot.  I use me back feets for grooming mostly, but I live with Janine, Naomi and Buddy and they take care of me grooming needs.  But if it was my front foot … that would be bad … cause then I could only hold one meal worm at a time!  Ooooh … I can’t bear the thought of missing out on my MEAL worms!

Ta Ta … until next time … Mr. Ahnold T. Swarzenglider, signing off!

Exotic Pet Vet
What Dr. C Says On… Finding a Good Exotic Vet for your Pet!
By Dr. C., of course! 

All keepers of exotic animals should really identify a qualified veterinarian before bringing a new animal home.  I’ve received quite a few emails, as has Lisa, asking us to recommend veterinarians in areas outside our home base.  When we are unable to make an appropriate  recommendation, then the question arises as to how one should go about finding a good vet in their area.  This brings us to this month’s topic.

I think it will be helpful to first discuss the training that is involved to become a vet.  Most veterinarians receive an undergraduate degree, in any of several disciplines, as long the courses required by the vet school are completed.  A few veterinarians enter vet school after their junior year at an undergraduate institution.  There are 28 veterinary colleges in the U.S.

Veterinary school is an additional four years of training and upon completion a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree is awarded.  However, if you go to school in Pennsylvania, you are awarded a VMD.  Pennsylvania is always different; they are a
Commonwealth after all!  All veterinarians take classes and are exposed during clinical rotations to health issues involving a wide variety of animals.  However, these rotations most typically cover more traditional animals like dogs, cats, cows, horses and other farm animals.  Many vet schools offer extensive programs on exotic and pocket pet medicine as well.  Animals studied in these classes include such pets as birds, reptiles, rabbits and even animals like sugar gliders.  My Alma Mater, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, offers a wide variety of opportunities to study exotics through elective courses.

Many veterinarians, at this point, are qualified to go into practice or choose to continue their education by completing a one-year internship.  This usually involves clinical experience in a specific area, such as exotic animal medicine, surgery, etc.

A few veterinarians continue on to residencies, which usually last three years.  This is to become what is called a “Board Certified” Specialist.  There are other routes to becoming “Boarded”, but completing a residency is the most direct path.  Board certified specialties include surgery, internal medicine, dentistry, avian medicine and zoo medicine.  A board certified doctor will have additional letters after their name signifying their certification.

All practicing veterinarians must be licensed by both the U.S. government and individual state governments.  There is a clinical competency exam, a national board exam, and each state has its own exam.  A “Board Certified” specialist takes an additional exam for the specialty.  Veterinarians must also receive continuing education every year to keep their license current.

With this overview of a veterinary education we can now focus on finding a veterinarian for your sugar glider.  It is important that you find a vet experienced with exotics or at least willing to learn and work with you on discovering information.  It is OK to ask your vet directly about their experience and general familiarity with exotics.  Many veterinarians gain knowledge and experience with exotics through continuing education classes and labs.  It’s not necessary for your vet to be a board certified specialist to be a good exotic vet.  If you’re in an area with a board certified specialist, it does make your search a bit easier, but its not necessary to find a “sugar glider specialist” to insure excellent care for your pet.

I realize that most people are not comfortable just pulling out the yellow pages to search for a new veterinarian, particularly when exotic animals are involved.  In my practice, most of my clients that have exotic pets also have a number of traditional pets like dogs or cats.  My first advice to you would be to ask your traditional vet if he or she has a good referral for you to find an experienced exotic vet. Vets tend to know who the best doctors are for specific animals or ailments within their own community.

If you do not meet with success via this avenue, my next suggestion is to find a friend or family member that you know who keeps exotics.  They may already have first hand experience with an exotic vet and can point you in the right direction.  If you purchased your sugar glider from a local breeder or pet shop, they should certainly be able to share the name of their attending veterinarian.  And if they can’t give you any names, then I might suggest you don’t deal with that organization anymore.

In some cases, you may find information on exotic vets on the Internet, although I suspect that these lists are severely incomplete. Message boards that cater to the exotic pet and sugar glider communities may also be excellent resources to find a good referral.

And last, but not least, you can let your fingers do the walking and see what the information the yellow pages hold for you.  Many veterinary clinics that specialize in exotics will state so in their ads and if you don’t find those types of ads, then let’s go back to square one.  Get a good recommendation on a general vet and ask that vet to refer you to an appropriate exotic vet for your pet!

It is not unusual for vets to encounter situations that are new to their level of experience.  Also in the course of one’s lifetime as a vet, we will encounter situations that defy normal veterinary procedure.  Part of the veterinary training teaches how to ask the right questions  and how to research appropriate solutions for each situation.  For example, most vets will have access to a library housing literature on just about every type of animal imaginable. 
There are subscription based online communities available to practitioners of veterinary medicine.  

I recently encountered a situation at SunCoast whereby a male sugar glider had developed an eye infection.  While this type of infection is quite common, and I’ve treated many of them, this particular glider did not respond well to the treatment I prescribed. 
It appeared that he had developed an immunity to the standard antibiotic treatments.  

In this particular situation, I chose to seek advice from zoo experts in Australia.  While I have a list of traditional antibiotics used in these types of situations, I felt it important to explore other options.  The point of sharing this story is that if you find a vet that your really like, and this doctor is willing to work with you, you may have found the right doctor to care for your sugar glider.  Access to information is abundant.  All is takes is a willingness on your Doctor’s part to do some research and some networking to find appropriate treatments for your pet’s illnesses. 

Sugar gliders are relatively new as pets and as such, you may have a difficult time finding a highly experienced vet.  I have found this to be particularly true in the more rural areas of the country.  Of course, it is always preferable to find a vet with experience with your type of pet, but you may find your choices limited and will have to decide whether this vet is capable and willing enough to handle the assignment, or reconsider getting a sugar glider until access to medical care options are fully resolved.

Sugar gliders tend to stay quite healthy when fed properly and housed in a clean and safe environment.  When illnesses do arise, however, you generally do not have a lot of time to get treatment initiated.  The most responsible path you can take is to secure your veterinarian first, before bringing a sugar glider into your home.

You may want to interview a few doctors before making your final selection.  I get asked frequently about my level of experience with different breeds.  When I first started taking care of the sugar gliders at SunCoast, I can assure you that Lisa and Debbie asked me a ton of questions.  Most doctors will not mind the questions.  We know that you care deeply for your animals and are actively seeking to do what’s best for them. 

I send my wishes for good health to both you and your sugar gliders. I’ll see you again next month! 

Dr. C.

P.S. If you have any additional questions about this month’s article, send your inquiries by clicking here and I will follow up on the frequently asked questions in a future edition of GliderVet Newsletter.