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.