How many suggies do I have?

Gosh, some people ask me this question and they do wonder how do I cope. I actually have 9 Sugar Gliders that are permanent residents. BoBo is currently with me now, and so are Bubba and 2 other male joeys that are for sale. So all together I have about 13 gliders in my home today. So much stress! Hahahah…. it is fun to actually have gliders around but the commitment, I doubt many people can handle 13 gliders.

Let’s do a namelist for my permanent glider residents. I do like to name my gliders after Aboriginal names but some of them have just typical normal names.

Kiah – My oldest girl, her name means “From a beautiful place”.

Kapi – My 2nd girl, her name means “Moon”

Kinba – My boy, his name means “Bush Fire”

Kinta – My shy and timid girl, her name means “Laughter”

Pama – My boy that I adopted, his name means “Man”

Naya – My girl that I adopted, her name means “Mother”

Keera – My youngest girl, her name means “Girl” in Persian

Then 2 gliders that I bought over from a friend already had names, Sugus for the girl, Gizmo for the boy.

I should be posting some pictures of them but sorry guys, my camera is out of juice. I will update later.

The Wheel

Every thought if your glider needed a wheel or not?

Do you have a wheel for your gliders at home? Yes? No?

If yes, then that is the greatest thing you have given to your glider. If no, then you better head on over to Pet Shack to get yourself a Wodent Wheel Senior for your suggie.

Why a wheel?

Sugar gliders need exercise, it is important for them to run and jump about. If you think a wheel is not good to invest in, then would it be troublesome for you to let your glider out for 2 hours a day, running about and jumping in your whole home? Your glider needs the exercise to firstly, keep fit and healthy. Gliders that do not have wheels can become fat and obese if their diet consist of a lot of mealworms.

Gliders need to exercise because it helps them build healthy bones. Muscle movement helps with calcium absorption and stimulates bone thickening. It helps with the joints as well. Since gliders have fragile bones, it is important for them to maximize calcium absorption.

Besides this, it actually allows your glider to do something when you are away sleeping at night. My gliders would take turns running on their wheels at night when I am asleep. It is a great activity.

Picture from Pet Shack

For Malaysians, you can order the Wodent Wheel Senior online through Pet Shack’s website. All in Ringgit and by Pos Malaysia.

A male’s bifurcated penis

Some people may wonder what is that pink worm-like thing poking out of their male sugar glider’s anus….. well, it is their bifurcated penis! It is long, pink and the ends are split in 2, kinda looks like a snake’s tongue. As I rarely get pictures of this, I found one on Sugar Glider University.

Picture credits goes to Sugar Glider University.

I strongly advice people to read up and include this website into your research list. This site has been one of my favourite sites to use for my research. Plenty of info.

Heartless pet shops

Have you ever wondered where do pet shops get their sugar glider joey supply? How about what they feed them? Ever wondered about the age of a joey sold at most pet shops in Malaysia? If you were to ask the pet shop keeper about the joeys, they would give you very blunt answers.

How old are the joeys? – “2 to 3 months old lah”

What do you feed them?

“Ah, easy only. Feed apples, cat food and some mealworms” or “Feed Gerber jar babyfood” or “Just apples and grapes” or “Sunflower seeds and apples”

What cage to use? – “Small bird cage or a hamster cage would do”

Easy to care? – “Very easy, like hamster only”

In reality, the joeys sold at those shops are about 4 weeks OOP to 5 weeks OOP. Their diet needs to be varied, with a good ratio of fruits and veggies, along with insects. You can read more about diet in my other article. Anyway, cages, we all know the minimum is a 3ft tall cage and they are not as easy as hamsters, quite complicated.

Photo from shakeera (LYN member)

The picture above here is an example of underage joeys in the market. This picture was taken by shakeera outside of KL Sentral. I was personally there as well but I did not have my camera at that moment. The joeys are around 4 and 5 weeks OOP, seriously hungry. The only thing available as food is half of an apple, which has gone brown with age. The joeys have nothing to sleep in but a small little cup that is barely 3 inches in diameter. Joeys at this age still need milk. They still need their mom’s warmth and care. Don’t you feel like crying when you see little baby animals snatched away before they are of the right age to cater to the pet trade? The people manning the store would tell you that the joeys are 3 to 4 months old, they are super tame and easy to care for and they should eat only apples so that they do not smell. Some rubbish advice that is, they are too young, they are too scared and weak to bite or crab and probably sick from malnutrition. The price is cheap, so this attracts a whole lot of buyers, but it is a pity to see so many people fall into this trap.

Photos from KJ (LYN member)

Do these look familiar? I won’t mention the name of the shop but the way the joeys are housed is actually a familiar sight in a particular shopping mall. The joeys in the pictures are about 3 weeks OOP to 4 weeks OOP. Extremely malnutrition, most of the joeys there are very sick. I personally saw one dying. A few other people also told me they have seen dead ones at the same place. Why are they dying? Well, the joeys have nothing to eat but a few pieces of very brown apples. At this age, the joeys need milk, apples is high in phosphorus and the joeys have not much energy to chew solid food. This makes them weak and suffer from brittle bones and poor growth later in life. Who knows how long they can live, maybe not the full 10 to 15 years of life. The worst part is that the joeys in the pictures are constantly damp with moisture from the apples and also urine, which makes the staff blow dry them with a hair dryer. This is not the way, the hair dryer can burn the joey’s delicate skin and ears, causing extreme pain. Now, don’t you feel like telling these people off about the way they are keeping the joeys? Of course rite? But whenever we open our mouths to help these joeys, the staff would turn a deaf ear and act arrogant. They would stand firm about the way they keep the joeys, saying it is the correct way and given the correct food and treatment. I once brought a 2 month OOP joey to them, and they told me my joey is not 2 months but 4 months old….. Gosh, they really do not know about joey age. They will say those that they sell(those tiny underage ones) are 2 months old and I got cheated by getting a 4 month old as a 2 month old joey. Insane….. To me, with that answer, it shows just how ignorant they are.

Photos from KJ

Look at these photos, this time it is not just joeys but adults. The adult gliders are not tame, mainly wild caught and sold with the sold purpose as breeding animals. What are they fed? Well, dried dogfood, apples and sunflower seeds. Such a fattening diet and it is really bad for gliders since the dogfood is the low quality type and sunflower seeds can cause intestinal blockage. The gliders are only given food troughs as hiding or sleeping boxes, exposing them to light. Every few days, the gliders are taken out of the shop and are showered with a hose, later dried off under the sun as if they were stuffed toys. Gliders are nocturnal so imagine how much the gliders actually suffer.

Those small bird cages house breeding pairs with joeys. They are given mainly a coconut hide and a food and water bowl. No climbing material or any toys for them to play with, just a small cage to make them breed.

Where do all these underage joeys come from? Well, from unethical suppliers of course! Due to the huge demand, suppliers are trying to maximize breeding. As hobbyist breeders, our gliders only breed twice a year, sometimes 3 times depending on their health, diet and environment. These suppliers are squeezing out 4 to 5 breedings a year. How do they do this? By separating the joey before it is properly weaned, the breeding gliders would have the urge to breed again because by nature, as soon as a joey is out of pouch and leaves the female, the gliders would then have the urge to breed again. These suppliers have about 200 to 800 breeding individual gliders, supplying joeys to pet shops that have the demand.

We can stop such suppliers and also such pet shops by just getting joeys or gliders from proper breeders. If we stop this kind of heartless sales, more gliders would stay safe. We should always aim to get proper aged joeys, which are 8 weeks OOP, never any younger.

Beware of suppliers and commercial sellers, beware of most pet shops. Do your research and you will be able to get a healthy joey.

The humble Papaya

Picture from http://www.papayahealthandbody.com/otm/food-papaya.html

I am actually not too fond of papaya. When I go to restaurants that serve papaya on their buffet tables, I would never take any. When there is a fruit platter offered after meals at certain places, I would eat the pineapple or watermelon but never papaya. Why? Let’s just say I have never liked the texture of papaya.

Today, I actually have papaya in my shopping list but it is never for me but for my 9 sugar gliders at home. Yups, I pamper them more with the good stuff while I take the odd banana or apple once awhile. My gliders eat better than me. Anyway, I would like to highlight about papaya and the benefits it gives to our little suggies.

The first thing I would like to point out is the vitamin contents. Papaya is very high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Since papaya is not acidic, it would rarely give diarrhea too. Vitamin C is essential for animals, it can help to build their immune system. It also has a good source of beta carotene.

The papaya has an enzyme called Papain, which aids digestion. Papain also helps at reducing pain and discomfort to human patients that have back problems. This is good use for gliders that have suffered falls, are injured or have flesh wounds. Why I mention about wounds? Well, it aids in the healing process. By taking some ripe papaya and applying to a flesh wound, it can help reduce swelling, ease the pain and heal at a better rate compared to leaving it alone. Since gliders tend to lick themselves a lot, applying papaya to wounds is super safe and tasty for them.

Do not ever let your glider take any of the seeds as it is toxic whereby it reduces the pulse rate and depress the nervous system. So only give the sweet ripe fruit.

After consuming papaya, the gliders would have quite stinky poop, so when you handle them, just make sure you have some tissue on standby. The smell is a bit like rotten papaya. I would say never deprive your glider of this good fruit, it is beneficial for them and papaya is not too expensive either.

Have a problem storing papaya? You can always buy a slice from fruit stalls that sell cut fruits. A slice of papaya can be kept nicely in the fridge for a maximum of 2 to 3 days before it starts to turn bad.

Is there such a thing as cheap sugar gliders?

I decided to write about cheap gliders. Recently, I have come across a few people who have made BIG mistakes when it comes to purchasing gliders. Yes, getting a glider is tempting, especially after seeing people who have joeys or tame adults sitting on their shoulders. I know that those that are interested are normally young adults and students. RM300 to RM400 for a joey may seem too much money to spend on a pet so they tend to make the mistake of purchasing adults because pet shops or suppliers tend to wave about a very attractive price in front of them. RM80 to Rm120 for 1 glider, wouldn’t you be interested to get 1? I know anyone would, cause that money is just a fraction of Rm400.

Many do not know the origins of adult gliders. Majority are imported wild stock. Some are either legally or illegally brought in to cater to the demand for breeding gliders. This is the reason why their price is cheap. Since they are super hard to tame, the only way is to sell them cheap to gain interest. Adult gliders actually live a very miserable and stressed life. Look at this picture taken by KJ at a petshop in Kuala Lumpur. Doesn’t it make you want to cry?

The wild adults tend to be malnourished, with sunflower seeds and mealworms as a staple. Some sellers would offer old apples and low quality dog kibble. The gliders have nothing to hide or sleep in, all they get is a few empty food containers to cuddle into but that just isn’t enough.

Some sellers would then say “Get a pair and let them breed, then you can tame your own joey”. Whoaaaaaa there!!!! Ask a newbie glider owner to breed??? Gliders are not breeding machines, nor are they as easy as keeping a hamster. I am quite disgusted by the fact that many pet shops actually advice newbies to get a wild adult pair to breed and to keep in a small cage meant for small birds. Some would even recommend hamster cages and hamster food. Breeding is a whole new level as they need a varied diet, proper living environment and also a keeper has to have things on standby just in case a joey or 2 get rejected by the parent gliders.

To new owners and also interested glider keepers out there, think carefully before you make a decision. Do not just buy because someone gives you a very cheap price. Think about the consequences of having a wild pair, think of the health of the glider and most important, think of the welfare of the glider when it comes into your care. Avoid getting cheap buys, just save up to get a healthy proper age joey.

Bubba at 48 days

Today Little Bubba is 48 days old. The date I set for his rehoming was suppose to be on the 20 July but due to my new semester at college, and also his new owners shifting, 26 July would be better.

Although 48 days OOP, he still is a shy boy and prefers to sleep in the sleeping pouch. I think his parents, Naya and Pama are destructive as they have just killed their 2nd sleeping pouch. I now have to use an old canvas hand bag for them. Hopefully this won’t get destroyed. I really need to get hold of some tough material to experiment on.

Bubba is 52g, on the right track. It is considered a good and healthy weigh. His size is already bigger than my handphone. At 48 days OOP, he does look very big, bigger than those joeys sold at pet shops. This just shows that the pet shops are either selling underage joeys(very likely) or have poor quality joeys.

My Nokia 5300 now looks small when I compare it to Bubba.

He has got a very well developed body with an already fluffy fuzzy tail.

Who could resist such a cutie? He now rarely crabs when I handle him. Prefers to climb about now than stay on my palm.

Hanging tightly on my willow branch for a picture.

Are gliders chewers?

Sugar gliders generally do not chew to wear down their teeth like hamsters do. The teeth doesn’t keep on growing. They are permanent teeth, so we should never try to trim it or extract it out. It cannot regrow or be replaced again.

Gliders do need to chew to clean their teeth. It helps keep tooth decay away and it is also a good activity for them. In the wild, gliders strip and chew bark to get at insects and tree sap. It strengthens their teeth as well.

In Malaysia, we have trouble finding trees that are safe for gliders to chew and gnaw on, so the best thing that I have come across that is great is Apple Orchard Sticks by Super Pet. This is safe as it is from natural fruit trees, and packed for animals so obviously no chemicals or pesticides were used on the trees. This item can be found at Pet Shack.

Sometimes a tooth may fracture. If that happens, check the gums. It should be pink and not red. If there is a redness in the gums or gumline, then the fractured tooth can get infected. Antibiotics would be needed and if the root is infected, then there is no choice but to extract out the broken tooth.

My Keera

I have one glider that is the odd one out of all…. she has large ears…. to me she looks like a little donkey but she is a very loving glider who is very gentle, even children can handle her.

Meet Keera, my donkey eared glider. Thanks KJ for taking her pictures.

I really enjoy seeing her pose…. in these pictures, she was happily munching on a mealworm while KJ took pictures of her.

Boys or Girls?

This is a question I often get when people inquire about gliders,

“Which is better? Male or female?”

Well, to me the difference is mainly physical.

The Male:

Most male animals have scent glands for marking territory and family members and to ward off other male animals of the same species. Sugar glider males have their scent glands located on their chest, head and anus. On the head, we normally call it a bald spot, mainly because it appears bald.

Here is a picture of a males head. On the chest, the scent gland appears to be a deep yellow spot, sometimes it would appear damp from musking.  The oils from the musk is slightly coloured, like a yellow tint. The male would normally rub his musk all around the cage to guard his territory, and rub his head and chest on his females and colony members to show that he is dominant.

The smell is noticeable but not overpowering if you keep the cage clean. If the musk bothers you, then the male can always be neutered. After neutering, the scent gland on the head would stop producing musk and the fur would grow back again.

Male glider sexually mature as soon as the bald spot is noticeable. This can be between 4 months to 12 months OOP. The urge to mate would depend on the glider itself. Now males may sometimes have this little pink worm-like thing poking out of it’s anus. Do not be alarm as that is the glider’s penis. It is bifurcated, meaning it is split in 2, looks something like a snake’s tongue.

One thing with males that are not neutered, it is hard for them to get along when they are sexually matured. Some may fight due to hormone levels. So to avoid all these problems, get your male neutered.

Why Neuter?

First it actually lessens the musky smell. Then with testosterone levels down, they can actually be more docile and more loving since intact males tend to musk a lot and also act aggressively to new smells. I have a male, Kimba and he is one dominant glider. He would not let any of the other females gliders eat first. If they go too near to any of the 4 food bowls, he would chase them away with crabbing, hisses and chattering. If I were to put another male glider in his territory, he may end up killing the other male. So if you are not breeding gliders, then get your male neutered for safety reasons.

The Female:

Females do have scent glands but it is located at the anus and pouch. Females do not have any bald spots of scent glands on the chest, which is why they have little to no odour, if compared to a male. The pouch is located around the tummy area, and it is a little slit. Now females sexually mature around 6 months to 12 months OOP, depending on living conditions and diet, some just become sexually mature early. The best age for females to breed is actually after 10 months old. Younger than that then the female would not be ready, she may cannibalise or reject her joeys and it would weaken her body too. So think carefully about having a male and female pair.

Females get along pretty well with both sexes. They are not as dominant as males so having 2 females is alright. Female gliders cannot be spayed, so to control breeding, just neuter the male or keep 2 females.

So which is better?

There is no difference in personality, every glider are different individuals. Males and females can be both calm and gentle, or hyper active and feisty. To me they are equally good as pets, just that you have to find out if the particular glider suits you or not.