Friday, October 30, 2009

Excuse Me! I'm in the Bathroom!

M: Having rheumatoid arthritis has really prevented me from enjoying tent time with Foehn and CB. So, yesterday, I decided to try our bathroom. I took a large quilt and put it on the floor, which is ceramic, but heated. The quilt only covered a small area, but was comfortable enough for me to sit on for a long time. I put the pouch with Foehn and CB in it on the quilt between my legs. They were already awake, even tho it was only 1:00 pm. They weren't too sure what to make of this invitation to freedom. But, after thinking they had to sneak out, Foehn took a run for it. She ran around the perimeter of the bathroom, noticing, about the same time I did, that even tho the door was closed , the space between the door and the floor would surely accommodate her. I move very awkwardly, and I was afraid if I wasn't careful, CB would surely suffer from my attempts to prevent Foehn from testing her theory. So, I took off the sweater I was wearing and threw it by the door. This was enough to redirect Foehn, and encourage CB to join in the fun! They were chirping and periodically hiss to each other as the explored the territory for about an hour. They would run up my back, up my legs, almost to my face, but then chicken out and run to the sweater. Finally, the adrenalin rush wore off, and both of them snuggled into the arm of the sweater. They were surprisingly easy to coax back into the pouch, and content to stay there the rest of the afternoon. I should mention, though, I am reluctant to allow Foehn to jump out of the cage onto me, again, a mobility issue, but they have not been in a zippered bonding pouch for a week now. I just attach their sleeping pouch to the strap I made for the bonding pouch. I am so excited that there is a way for me to participate in "tent" time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Step for Foehn

Yesterday morning I went through the usual ritual of giving Foehn and CB a small treat before they turned in for the day. As has been the case the last couple of times, Foehn came to the cage door eagerly waiting for me to deliver the goods. And once again, CB crawled in to the blanket before I could get back to the cage and Foehn got first licks in. However, I did unroll the blanket and coaxed CB out without him crabbing, and then he joined in with Foehn licking the treat from my fingers. Foehn crawled on to my hand (looking for more goodies, of course), but did not get scared or nervous. She actually stayed there and I lowered my hand to the cage floor to let her off. That was a pretty big step in the trust department. We're going to have to work more on CB - he's too concerned with getting to sleep in the morning and isn't that interested in anything else.

I was gone overnight last night on a business trip and M had the gliders to herself. When they briefly woke up she gave them each a grape which they both thoroughly enjoyed. They only get a grape once a week or so, but they are their favorite. M got a great photo of them (below) working on their grapes, CB on the left and Foehn on the right. CB appears to be really relishing his grape!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some Big Steps

I intended to post this last night, but our Internet service was out for at least 8 hours.

The bonding process is moving slowly but steadily along. Foehn, in particular, is really making progress. I usually come out to get ready to leave for work between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. One of the first things I do now is to check on the gliders. They are both usually still up and around, and after a few days of this I realized that they are waiting for me because I usually give them a treat before I leave. Foehn comes to the front of the cage when I open the door. She has been very good about not biting, and will grab my finger while she licks it clean of the treat. When I take my hand out to get some more, she will climb up the front of the cage to the door in anticipation of more. CB is not as interested. He will come and join Foehn licking my fingers, but really isn't interested putting in more effort than that. This morning I came out and stopped by the cage, as usual, to check on them. Both were out and climbing around. By the time I was back with the treat a minute or so later, CB had crawled into the blanket to sleep. Foehn was waiting for her treat. I tried to coax CB out, but he just crabbed at being disturbed, so he missed out. Two minutes after I closed the cage door after her treat, Foehn had turned in as well.

Yesterday M was able to coax Foehn out of her pouch on her lap. Foehn fell asleep on a fleece blanket while M petted her. She didn't crab or try to get away. That was a huge step for Foehn. Her bro' just snoozed away in the pouch, where I was able to pet him quite awhile. Of course, he could sleep through a tornado.

Today M went to put them in the pouch for the day, and was using a pouch I had yesterday. CB, who had spent much of Sunday afternoon and evening in that pouch, crawled right in. Foehn would not follow him, and instead tried to get him out, going in and crabbing at him, and actually moving the pouch around. Then she was running around the top of the cage where I had a shirt hanging so she would get used to my smell. It was a smell she recognized, as she should have with the pouch. She would not go in the pouch and leave CB alone. He finally got fed up and climbed into another pouch hanging in the cage! M did eventually get Foehn into the pouch where she spent the rest of the afternoon and so far this evening. She was really restless (not a deep sleeper like CB) and couldn't settle down. When M gave her to me to hold this evening, she crabbed up a storm. She did quiet down but didn't seem to want to sleep. On a hunch that maybe she missed CB, we put him in the pouch with her. There was about 10 minutes of little bodies maneuvering, a bit of noise, and then quiet. They have both been asleep ever since.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Visit to the Vet

Today we visited the vet for a wellness check for both gliders. Although some dealers claim that gliders are a "no vet" pet, following that advice can be a gamble - with any pet. The time to have a vet is before you really need one. So, we made an appointment at a local animal hospital with vets who specialize in exotics (as gliders are classified) and brought them in for their first checkup.

Other than the fact that they weren't happy to roused from their sleep to be examined, both CB and Foehn were pretty well behaved. They crabbed a little when the vet took them out of their pouch but that was about it. They were weighed (CB 80 grams, Foehn 72 grams) and examined. They were also checked for parasites (giardia can be a serious problem for gliders) and both were negative. The vet said they were in good health. She spent time with us talking about diet, glider behavior, their tendency to hide illness when they are ill, general care, and who we need to contact in an emergency should one come up. Their next visit will be a year from now, unless something comes up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Taking a Break on Play Time

We had some time in the tent twice more this week. CB and Foehn had generally a great time in the tent, but unlike the first time, it was a real chore getting them back into their cage. The first time we did this they both went back to their pouch after seemingly wearing themselves out. Not so the last two times. On Monday we hoped to wind things up by around 10:30 p.m., but it was 11:30 before I finally got them settled. We had to resort to getting them out one at a time. At one point they slowed down and wandered into their pouch, but never at the same time. After about 15 minutes they got their second wind, and that was that. It was another 45 minutes before we got them rounded up. Last night was a similar scenario. They were having a great time, especially since there was a wheel in the tent. CB spent a lot of his time running in the wheel, and eventually Foehn got interested as well. CB was not stopping, and Foehn would get her nose repeatedly bumped as she tried to get into the wheel while it was turning. They also did not seem interested in slowing down at all. We finally removed the wheel from the tent, both to get them to wind down and also because I didn't like the way Foehn was getting her nose whacked by the wheel (although she didn't seem to mind so much). Rounding them up was a chore, because they are still skittish around us at times, and won't allow us to just pick them up. I scooped Foehn with a blanket as she was crawling across the top of the tent and got her into the pouch. She didn't fuss or crab at all, but her brother was a different story. I took Foehn back to the cage, and then came back for CB. He was not cooperative at all, and after one unsuccessful attempt at scooping him up I decided to try and coax him into the pouch. Twenty minutes later he crawled in, and I held the top of the pouch closed and picked it up. He was crabbing up a storm, which is unlike him but I think he was both not happy about being chased and not happy about ending tent time. Once he was back in the cage everything was fine. I did some checking and found that this "roundup" problem is not unusual, but we have decided to try and work on bonding without playtime for several days. That will lessen the stress on them, and on us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, we had a marathon session in the tent last night. I was intending to keep "play time" to an hour, but CB and Foehn had different ideas. They had another great session running, climbing, and jumping from the tent and from me. After about an hour and 15 minutes they appeared to be winding down and I placed the pouch on the tent floor for them to climb in to. They crawled in and out, but neither at the same time, so an organized, quiet end like the first night didn't seem to be in the cards. After 20 minutes of this, they both got a second wind. CB finally called it a night after about 2 hours and crawled into the pouch. I moved him to their cage, and then came back for Foehn. She was not ready to stop, but I was - I had to get up for work in the morning. So I had to finally gather her up in a fleece blanket and moved her to the cage.

We are making progress with bonding. The are licking food off of our fingers with minimal nips and bites, and M was able to pet both of them in the pouch today. Foehn, the more skittish of the two, climbed part way on to my hand tonight to lick up some chicken and apple baby food.

I decided that I would first let them out in their cage before moving to the tent tonight, but they had other ideas - food. Both of them decided to snack and hang out in the cage - no interest in getting back in the pouch so I could move them to the tent. We took these photos tonight. The first is of CB and Foehn at the food cup, and the second is of Foehn relaxing between nibbles. We never did make it to the tent tonight.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The First Tent Time

The bonding process has been going well for us the last few days. CB and Foehn have become comfortable in their new home. M has been keeping them in a bonding pouch during the day, and the other day was able to pick them up and place them in the pouch without any crabbing or problems. They woke up long enough to do their thing and get a drink of water. Foehn now allows us to pet her, although she still crabs from time to time.

Yesterday we decided to try letting them play in a tent. I set up a two-man tent we have, and last night I climbed in, along with a vegetable plate and a couple of toys. They were still asleep when M handed them to me in the tent, but once coaxed out of the pouch they started to explore. We were in there for an hour and a half, and they had a ball. They ran all over the tent, facing off with each other from time to time, then running to a corner and back again. Foehn loved to climb the screening, and at one point spent almost 15 minutes climbing around the top of the tent. The big moment, though, was when Foehn climbed up my back to my shoulder, and then jumped to the floor of the tent - twice! CB also jumped on me once or twice, and that was a big step for both of them in terms of trust. They are still a little skittish about hands, although both were sniffing my hand but neither bit last night. However, M was trying to rub Foehn through the screen and she took a bite down on M's finger.

I just sat in the tent the whole time, not really moving too much and let them do the exploring. I really didn't expect too much for the first time, but they quickly took to being in the open space. I think they would have kept going for as long as we would let them, but after about 90 minutes they were slowing down a bit and I was getting tired of sitting in one spot! I placed the bonding pouch on the floor of the tent and after a few minutes they both curled up in there (CB was first, of course). Once back in their cage they both ate some and got a drink, then settled in for a nap. Play time is tiring!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sewing Up a Storm

M has found a renewed interest in sewing since our glider sitting adventure in September. She made some extra pouches for Molly, and has made two sets for our gliders, and recently completed a Halloween-themed pumpkin/witches hat pouch. She was in our local Hancock Fabrics store yesterday buying more fleece (it's on sale), and apparently the staff has been noticing her many recent fleece purchases. Curiosity finally got the better of them, and they asked her what all the fleece was for. Of course she happily explained it to them. They were quite interested and thought gliders sounded so neat.

M here. Yes, it is true... I have avoided making anything from fleece since fleece was available... I didn't like it. Didn't like sewing with it, thought the no-sew quilts were for lazy people (sorry), I don't quilt either, low attention span, have to finish projects quickly. But, Molly was a glider in need. My son doesn't sew, winter was coming, she loves to snuggle, and so, off H and I went. He NEVER goes to a fabric store with me, at least, not with out that "when will you be done" sigh every 5 minutes! But, here he was, picking out colors, telling me how our son would like the camo one (he had complained because I had made Molly some rope toys with white and pink rope).But the real show of glideritis was when he said, "I'll pay for them! Whoa, maybe I can milk this sudden interest......

I have dolls from when I was a child and pregnant with our first baby, for whom I had made Halloween costumes. He found a thread on decorating cages and asked if I could make a pumpkin pouch. I went a step further and made a witch's hat they could hide in. Once I get started, my creative juices just take over and I needed more fleece, because, if i made something for ours, I had to make Molly the same thing, maybe in a different color.

Now, along with six huge plastic containers of fabric I have been "collecting" for the perfect project forever... our guest bed is now full of fleece! I was almost relieved when my sister told us they were going to be able to get here for a visit! Because, my craft room was already a mess, and once fleece entered our lives, I just put off cleaning it, and just added to the mess.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The New Additions

Yesterday.we picked up our gliders. We really wanted two females, but ended up with a brother and sister. The first 24 hours has been rather interesting and eventful. We had a long trip (several hours) from the breeder.. We had prepared by bringing a travel cage, some water, and apple, a pouch - preparing for most eventualities. We figured they would probably sleep most of the way home, since that was their normal sleep time. They were in a small cage on a table while we were at the breeder, and I was able to put my hand in it and let them explore and get used to it. They were used to being around people, so they reacted pretty well, all things considered. They probably weren't too happy to be roused from their sleep to be introduced to us, though. When it was time to go and their sleep pouch was put back into the cage, the male immediately headed for it and curled up inside. His sister had to be coaxed into it. Once in their own pouch, we put it and them in a larger bonding pouch that M had made.

We settled on names during the ride home, although we already had a pretty good idea. The brother is "CB", and the sister is Foehn (pronounced Fane). "CB", or more correctly "Cb" is the abbreviation for a thunderstorm cloud. A foehn is a warm wind, often known as a "snoweater".

The ride home was interesting. One of the gliders was periodically crabbing - never really settled down to sleep the entire trip. It was also lunging and trying to bite at times, obviously a little stressed out. M placed a piece of apple in the pouch and the crabbing glider enjoyed that. Most of they way home we both had opinions as to whether it was CB or Foehn that was making all of the noise. My feeling was that it was Foehn since she had been reluctant to go back into the pouch to begin with. M thought it was CB, since it seemed more like a guy thing. We had a lot of fun going back and forth about who was making all the noise. Once we got home we found it was Foehn - her brother slept like a baby the whole trip home. It's a guy thing.

Once home we placed them in their cage. We hung two pouches in the cage and had some fleece blankets on the bottom, but we left their "stinky" sleep pouch in there as well since that was what they were used to. For the first hour or so they were all over the cage, still a little stressed out in their new environment. However, they had settled down quite a bit by the time we were ready to turn in and were eating and drinking. They seemed to be getting used to their new home.

About 1:00 a.m. I woke up and heard a steady but quiet barking. I realized it was one of the gliders and went out to investigate. It was CB. Everything appeared OK, and as far as we know, he didn't bark again. M was disappointed that I didn't wake her up to hear it.

The real surprise is when I came out on the morning to leave for work. I noticed that one of the pouches that we had hung in the cage was bulging. Sure enough, they both had settled down in one of our pouches and not their old pouch on the cage floor (no way to hang it)!

They spent the afternoon with M in a bonding pouch and stayed very calm most of the time. Foehn stills crabs at times, while CB is pretty laid back (he does like his sleep!). I was wearing the pouch tonight when we had a little excitement. They woke up and Foehn decided to jump out of the pouch (it wasn't zippered at the time) and explore. Not good. I was trying to zip the pouch so CB wouldn't get the same idea but he wasn't about to miss out on the fun. So, on our first night we are trying to corral two exploring gliders. Thankfully we were able to round them up and put them in their cage. No more unzipped pouch when it's close to wake-up time!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Four More Days

Yesterday we drove through rain for four hours to pick up the cage for the gliders. It was made to our specs by Klubertanz Equipment Co in Edgerton, WI.  Other than time, it turned out going to pick it up was slightly cheaper than getting it shipped. It was too big to ship via UPS and would have had to been shipped by truck. It turns out it was a good idea for another reason. One of the staff there (actually the guy who built our cage) told us that they often have cages damaged when shipped by truck, and and then they have to be returned for repair, sometimes more than once.  The cage is 60 inches high by 30 inches wide and 24 inches deep, and will be plenty of room for two gliders. It has two larger doors on the front, and two smaller doors on the left side. The new residents will move in four more days .

Friday, October 9, 2009

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

We did a lot of searching for information on sugar gliders in the past couple of months. There is a lot of information out on the web. The great thing about the web is that it allows you to access lots of information quickly. The bad thing about the web is that it allows you to access lots of information quickly, but not all of it is good information. There lies the rub.

One of the first sites we accessed was the Pocket Pets web site, AKA Perfect Pocket Pets, or PPP. This is the company that was selling sugar gliders locally in June and from whom our son purchased his. The web site is somewhat cartoonish (they call sugar gliders "sugar bears") and seem to be especially appealing to children or parents of children. The business model for PPP is to sell to impulse buyers at festivals, malls, etc., They are generally in an area for only a couple of days. There is a growing amount of evidence that some of the franchisees are dishonest with their customers. More to the point, many obtain their gliders from "mill breeders", and often sell immature or diseased gliders to people who are thinking they are getting a minimal care pet. The PP web site has a number of "special reports" on topics like cage setup, feeding, and bonding. Frankly some of the information in these "reports" is OK, but a lot of it isn't. The trouble is, a person who is new to this and hasn't had time to learn more about the topic can't possibly know the difference. To be fair I do have to say that our son had a good experience with PP, but he just might have been lucky. Molly has had no health issues and has bonded well. PP sends a daily email for a month after the purchase (I don't know what's in them), and let's you contact them if there's a problem. Unfortunately, there are numerous stories about owners who called and did not get the help they needed or got wrong advice to the detriment (or death) of their gliders. The bottom line is that if you are really interested in owning a glider, it's recommended that you do not purchase it at a home show, festival, fair, mall, or from a fly-by-night operator using a hotel room.

So how do you find the good information?

There are some very useful and informative web sites as well as a few discussion forums. One of the forums we've have spent a lot of time on and in our opinion is one of the better ones out there is Glider Central. There are forums on a variety of topics from bonding to health to diet and nutrition, and it's pretty active. We first posted a question about caring for our son's glider, and received quick and helpful advice. As one reads more and more, however, you realize that emotions ( and an owner's devotion to their gliders) sometimes gets in the way of objective advice. I'm sure this is not unique to glider owners - many dog, cat, and (insert-your-pet) owners are also passionate about their pets. "Myths" about what is good or bad for gliders are sometimes propagated, not out of any ill intent, but because one or more people honestly believe them to be factual. When someone states absolutes with no attribution ("'Blarney' will harm your gliders") it tends to perpetuate the myths and cause confusion. There are some areas that are controversial - the topic of diet will always get a lively discussion going. Sometimes you start to feel that the more you learn the less you really know. The folks on GC will be the first to tell you - do your research before you decide to get a sugar glider (or any pet for that matter). Learn all you can, from more than one source, question what you don't undertand, and try to keep straight differences of opinion from differences in facts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Three months ago we didn't know what a sugar glider was, and now we are less than two weeks from acquiring a pair.

I'm still finding it a little hard to believe. Our first exposure to the existence of sugar gliders was in June when a company called Pocket Pets had an exhibit at one of our local festivals. We happened by the booth, stopped only briefly to see what it was all about (more on this in a later post), and then didn't really give it much of a thought. That evening, we found out our son had purchased a sugar glider, and in fact, that we probably missed running in to him at the booth by 15-20 minutes. Well, that sent us scrambling to the web to find out more about them and what he might have gotten himself into. Our first stop was to the Pockets Pets web site, the company where he had obtained his glider from, but we later expanded our search to other web sites and forums.

The line was cast about a month ago when we cared for his glider Molly for a week when he went on vacation. We took our pet-sitting job seriously, and both enjoyed watching her and interacting with her. After a couple of days she took to us as well (she was in a new environment and was understandably a little uncertain about things). For me at least, I started to get hooked as I kept her in her pouch around my neck while working in the evening. She would pop out to look around, especially if I got up and walked around. One evening she sat near the top of the pouch and I rubbed between her ears, and she fell asleep. I stopped to type something on the keyboard, and look down to find her looking at me as if to say "Why did you stop?" I went back to rubbing and she went back to sleep. I began to get reeled in later in the week after I set up a small tent in our three-season room and let her run and play, with me in there of course. It was fascinating to watch her gradually explore, then go full bore climbing up the walls and jumping back down. At one point she had a thing going where she jumped on to my leg, then shoulder, then to my head, then to the top of the tent, jump down to the floor, and then do it all over again.

In the meantime, M started making her a sleeping pouch to hang in her cage. Before you know it we are buying more fleece to make a few extra pouches for Molly. At that point we started thinking about getting our own. Glider owners call it "glideritis".

I'm the practical one and don't like to rush into things. We did a lot more research (M did most of the searching), and we talked about whether or not we wanted to really do this. We've had pets in the past (turtles, hamster, anoles, etc., dogs when we were kids) but nothing quite like this. I like animals but have never been a big "pet person". However, I caught "glideritis" from the experience of caring for Molly for a week. She got me (and us) hook, line, and sinker. Even so, we weighed the pros and cons and let some time pass before making a final decision. Since then, more research, getting the necessary "stuff", and preparing for the day we get our gliders. If we are going to do this we want to do it right.

M here. I would just like to add that I knew he was bit after the first night we babysat Molly. He hadn't had "that" look on his face since our kids were born! Molly was obviously taken with my husband, too! She tolerated me, but was much more affectionate with him.