Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Bit of a Scare

I was still in a morning haze in bed Wednesday when I heard M calling me from the family room. She had gotten up to bring the gliders into the office for their morning yogurt and exercise (sounds like a spa, doesn't it?). As is often the case, Cirrus was still out and about the cage. Cirrus climbed on to M's robe, which normally is followed by a short trip to the office. Well, this time Cirrus had other ideas. She quickly jumped to the outside top of the cage and then crawled to the bottom where M could not reach her. Virga was already out of the pouch and climbing on M, so she decided to get the three of them into the office and come back and get Cirrus. The trip to the office and back is 30 seconds at most. When M came back out to get Cirrus, she was nowhere to be found. There was no scurrying of little feet or other sounds that would point to a likely location.  That's when I got the call.

Typically when one of the gliders is loose you can here them running around. As I slowly went through the family room and adjoining rooms I didn't hear a sound. That was not good. Cirrus is a very active glider and she especially has a good time in the morning, so it wasn't likely that she hunkered down to sleep in that amount of time. With some dread I went down into the basement to see if she might be there. I checked the areas near the stairs and did not see or hear anything. I headed back upstairs to look around some more, but no luck. On place I did not check in the basement was the area we discovered Foehn in during their summer "breakout".  I went back downstairs and checked the utility area. Within seconds I heard and then saw Cirrus climbing around the stuff down there. She was not about to come to me or let me grab her - she was having far too good of a time. I dashed upstairs and grabbed a pouch and went back down. I held out the pouch and she crawled right in. She joined the rest of the gang in the office moments later, but not before she got a little bit of a talking to by me. That leaves Virga as the only one who hasn't headed to the basement, and we'd like to keep it that way.

It still amazes me how fast the gliders can move. It also amazes me that they can get down the stairs so fast. Getting down the stairs is the easy part - getting up the stairs appears to be more daunting.

The basement stairs - a tall order for a small glider.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Room to Spread Out

After three months of waiting I was able to pick up our new (assembled) cage December 10th. I started assembling it that weekend and finished it up this past weekend. On the fist day I assembled the main cage, which meant connecting two 30 inch wide panels each for the front and back to make a 60 inch wide by 60 inch high panel, and then connect the sides, top, and bottom to them. Apparently on the first Saturday I must have been still a little strung out from trip the day before. When I finished assembling the cage, M noticed that I had attached one of the front panels upside down, which was obvious because the doors were upside down. Then, I noticed that I had installed the end panels opposite to where they should have been, and the doors on both opened the wrong way. So, last Saturday I spent more than an hour removing a few dozen "c" rings from around the upside down front panel, removed it, an installed it correctly. For the ends, I just swapped the doors. Once that all was done, the rest of the assembly went quickly. The new cage measures 60 inches wide by 60 inches high by 24 inches deep, exactly twice as wide as their previous cage.

That afternoon we rolled out the old cage, which was going to our son for his glider, Molly, and wheeled in the new one. M had new cage stuff all ready to go, including a neat "Santa Pants" sleeping pouch. That night we passed on tent time in order to let them come out and check out their new home. Virga was the first out that night, and she checked out the whole cage, sniffing everything. The others eventually came out, all a little wary at first.  They have since settled in and seem to be enjoying the extra space. We haven't really had the chance to see them playing around in it as we are in bed before they really get going . Most nights they take a post tent time nap after they are returned to their cage and don't going until later after we are in bed.


The gliders' new cage, complete with holiday decorations.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Road Adventures

A week ago we finally got the call we have been waiting for since early November. The new cage we had ordered in September was ready to be picked up. I originally had requested a price quote in late August, but for  a variety of reasons we didn't get it until late October, and then were told it would probably be another two weeks before it was ready.  Five weeks later they called. Ironically I was only a hour away from the company, located in southern Wisconsin, when the call came but I was working and did not have my own car. So, I decided to head up last Friday, the one good day between two storms.

I was going by myself because M had a lot of things she wanted to get done at home. I wanted to get an early start so that I could get there and back before dark. I pulled out of the garage and made my way about a half-mile toward the highway which would take me to the Interstate. When I approached the stop sign and hit the brake, the pedal went all the way to the floor and lights lit up the dashboard. I had no brakes.  Not good...not good at all. I backed up, turned around, and drove the half-mile home very slowly. The car was not drivable and would have to be towed to the repair shop.

The towing company showed up with a flatbed and loaded up the Durango. I was left to make the tip north in my 18 year old truck with 193,000 miles. That wasn't my first choice, but it would have to do. I followed the flatbed to the repair shop. We weren't very far down the road when I realized that I had no heat in the truck. It appeared the thermostat was shot. This was going to be a long, cold day.

Once the Durango was at the repair shop and scheduled for service I headed north. Fortunately it was a sunny day, but it was also only in the 20s. I started to get uncomfortable after an hour or so. It didn't help that there is a rather large hole in the body of the cab (rusted through) that provided unneeded ventilation. I had a wool blanket that I wrapped around my legs, and that helped. I made it to my destination in good time and picked up the cage panels and parts, and then headed home. The ride home was OK until the sun went down, and then it got really cold. By the time I got home my feet were like ice and my legs were cramping  because of the cold and sitting for hours. Mission accomplished, however - we had the cage.Well, we had the parts.

The cage was not assembled, and what I came back with were the pre-cut panels and other parts. The panels had doors installed where we wanted them, but I asked them not to assemble it so that transportation would be easier. I put together most of the cage on Sunday, and should have it finished as soon as I get some time this week. We hope to have the gliders in their new home this weekend. More on that later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catching On

I'm pretty amazed at how fast our "gang of four" adapts to changes in their routine. Back when we had to move the cage out of the office into the great room M was resigning herself to the fact that she wouldn't be able to spend time with them in the morning anymore because we couldn't let them out of the cage. She was taking them in their sleeping pouch from the cage to our bathroom while I was painting and laying a new floor in the office. They quickly learned that that's the way it was going to be, and now wait in the pouch for M to come and get them. Instead of the bathroom, they now get to run around the office where there is plenty of space. Cirrus is the "lookout" in the morning. When she hears one of us come out her little head pops out of the pouch to check who is there.  M brings them into the office where there are some things to climb on and a wheel to run on. Cirrus is often on the wheel when I come into the office to get my stuff for work. When I come in, she usually jumps off of the wheel and comes over to climb up my leg and arm to my shoulder. I like to think she is glad to see me, but it could also be I'm the tallest thing in the room for her to climb and jump off of!  Either way, it's pretty neat. They have the run of things for about 45 minutes until they decide to call it a night. When they are ready to turn in they crawl into the sleeve of M's robe, and once they have settled down she carries them into our bathroom and lays her robe on the heated floor along with their pouch. While she is getting showered and dressed they eventually make their way out of the robe and into the sleeping pouch, and into the cage they go for the rest of the day.

There is one more big change in the offing - a new, larger cage. I'll be going to pick that up in a couple of days and will have more to write about it at that time..

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Running Hot and Cold

For the last two weeks the gliders' tent time at night has been pretty frenetic. All four of the gliders have spent the better part of an hour and a half running, jumping, and playing around. It's been fun to watch and be in there to interact with them. For the last several days, though, they have done a complete 180. They will be out long enough to get their yogurt drop treat, and then they have made their way to the hanging boat and spend most of the time in there, grooming and napping.  That makes for a long hour in the tent, so I've been cutting things short. CB has been the one exception the last couple of nights as he has stayed and played while the girls do their grooming thing in the boat, so we have had some good "buddy time". I may try and roll them out earlier and see if that makes any difference in their activity level.

The gang also got in on some Thanksgiving goodies this weekend. M boiled a turkey neck and they got a piece as part of their dinner. Last night it wasn't too long after I put them in their cage before they discovered the turkey. At one point, Cirrus, CB, and Foehn were working on the same piece while Virga was working on her vegetables (she loves her veggies). I tried to get a photo of the three of them eating the same piece, but before I could snap the photo CB decided to take a break and go for a run in the wheel.

Cirrus (l) and Foehn (r) enjoying some turkey neck

Monday, November 22, 2010

Goin' with the Flow

With the cage moved into the wide open spaces of the great room, M was determined to continue the morning yogurt routine in some fashion or another. She decided to try and bring them into our master bath, which in addition to be a little roomier also had a heated floor, The trick was to get the gliders after they had climbed into their sleeping pouch but before they had settled down to sleep. With the sun coming up earlier now that we were off Daylight Saving Time this worked pretty well as they typically turn in just before sunrise. The first morning was a success, and M was able to take them from the cage into the bathroom. Once there they got their licks of yogurt and had a chance to run around and play. These little guys caught on fast, and Foehn and CB continued to run to the pouch, followed by Virga, when they saw M come over to the cage. Lately, however, Cirrus has decided this is an excellent opportunity to check out the world outside of the cage. Luckily, she has let M take her off the cage and carry her safely to the bathroom. Normally they spent from 30 to 45 minutes running around the bathroom. The first day they discovered that the sleeve of M's heavy, warm robe is the perfect place to snuggle in for what they hope is their "nest" for the day. Instead. eventually M carefully puts them back into their sleeping pouch and safely carries them back to the cage.

Cirrus checks out what is going on from inside the sleeve of M's robe

This morning they got to run around my newly floored and painted office. Since not all the furniture has been returned, they had a great time running across the floor. When I came in to get my things for work, M told me she had lost track of one. After checking all the usual hiding places, I needed to leave for work and left it to M to find the missing glider. Some 15 minutes later, M was looking around the office for Virga and she heard a loud "plop" behind her. Virga had hunkered down in one of the cubby holes on my desk, only coming out when she figured it was time to turn in! The other three had already snuggled in M's sleeve, so Virga climbed up the robe and into the sleeve to join the others until M had to return them to their pouch.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Arrangements

Finally, after a couple of years, I am getting my home office "done" - new floor, paint, and at some point, new furnishings. Last weekend we moved the gliders' cage out of the office and into the great room. It's now in the same spot it was originally when we acquired Foehn and CB. M has not been looking forward to this move, since it has a major impact on her morning routine with them. For the last several months she has been getting up in the morning to give them their yogurt treat. In the last two months or so they have looked forward to a free run of the office at that time. In fact, they now often bypass the yogurt initially to go off and explore - they are out of the cage as soon as M opens the door. With the office door closed they are contained, and once they have had their fun they come and get a few licks of yogurt and then climb into their pouch in the cage to sleep. With the cage in the great room we can't take the chance of them getting out into the rest of the house. Even when the office is finished this arrangement will be permanent, but for another reason. We have ordered a new cage for them, one that will be twice as wide as their current age, and it will not fit in the office. It will give them a lot more room to play and run around, perhaps even room to glide a bit.

The first morning the cage was in the great room M gave the yogurt thing a try hoping to keep them in the cage, but Foehn was out and exploring before M could stop her. Fortunately Foehn headed right for the office, where we corralled her into a pouch. M was hopeful the morning routine could continue as that is her time to bond with them, but not if they are intent on leaving the cage. However, things may work out in the long run. With the switch to Standard Time, we wake up an hour later in "sun time". Generally they turn in by 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. now because the sun is up and it is getting light. The last two mornings M has been able to take them from their cage in the pouch to the now almost empty office. They generally aren't quite asleep yet, and they have come out to get their yogurt and play. If we can keep this up for a few days we hope they will figure out that this is the routine, and M will still have her time with them.

The last two days M has carried them around in her outer shirt after their afternoon snack to get some more bonding time with them. They usually snuggle in to sleep - most of the time. Virga occasionally grooms M rather aggressively and M has a few marks to show for it. In general, though they are quiet and sleep until it's tent time sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.

Cirrus sleeping inside M's shirt

Monday, November 1, 2010

Decorating for Fall

M, being a talented "crafty" person, likes to decorate the gliders' cage depending on the month or season. In October she made a large witches hat pouch which the gliders enjoyed because it was roomy. There were also a couple of other Halloween themed items in the cage. The past week or so M was sewing new "leaf" pouches for a fall theme. She also made a hammock of sorts, which they can climb on and also crawl into a pouch on the top. The new cage set includes four leaf pouches - orange, yellow, gold, and burgundy. The two large puches near the front of the cage are new for this year. There is also the orange hammock, and fall colored pieces of fleece stuck in the cage openings for them to play with. Along the top of the cage there is a fall leaf garland for them to climb on and around. When we put them in with their new cage set last night for the first time, they were a little uncertain about the changes, but they quickly explored the new furnishings and gave it their approval. It adds a nice touch to the office as well.

A fall-themed cage for the gliders

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Howling Winds, Barking Gliders

Winds started picking up here yesterday as a major storm gathered strength over the central U.S. They were pretty steady and strong last night, rattling the windows. M followed her usual morning routine of coming in and giving the gang their morning yogurt treat and some time to run around the office. About 20 minutes after she had gone in with the gliders I came out into the kitchen and could hear several barking gliders. That's not typical, especially in the morning. By that time, it had started to rain and between the rain and the wind there was quite a din - fortunately no thunder. When I went into the office I found M sitting there with three of the gliders barking. Cirrus, I believe, was running across the floor, but the other three were sticking close to the cage. Virga stayed with M, and was comfortable sitting there with M's hand over her. It wasn't long before Cirrus was back in the cage, but they all had trouble settling down. The wind, rain, and perhaps even the unusually low pressure had them a little freaked out. They eventually did get settled in their pouch a good hour after M first came in, just about the time the power went out! They were also rather subdued in the tent tonight, with even Virga less frisky than she usually is. Foehn spent most of the time curled up in my hand, which is a first for her for that long. When she wasn't in my hand she was tight up against my leg on the floor of the tent, like she was just was just trying to feel secure. It will be a quiet night tonight, so they should be less stressed out. Foehn already seems to be feeling better as I write this. She is running in their wheel while the other three are taking a snooze.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Loose Ends

It's been fairly quiet with not much new happening.  All the gliders are doing well, and it will be another week before one of the girls is in heat again. CB has a break this week. It turns out that we have Virga and Cirrus both pegged in that department - they came into heat on the date we had marked on the calendar. The telltale sign was the barking, although it wasn't as nearly as constant as it was the first round. Foehn is the one who didn't fit the pattern as far as barking is concerned, so we'll have to pay a little closer attention to her next week when her urn comes around.

The gliders really enjoy their time with M in the morning. They are waiting for her when she comes in, and they ae more interested in first running around the office than having their yogurt. They have been pretty active this week during tent time as well. I think the secret to getting them going is to turn off all of the lights except for some indirect lightning. It doesn't take long for all four of them to start running and jumping all over. and they have certainly been getting their exercise.

Cirrus reached a milestone of sorts this weekend when she weighed in on Sunday at 70 grams. That's the most she has weighed since coming to live here. Part of that gain might be due to the yogurt she had just prior to being weighed, but she has that all of the time when we wake them up to be weighed. It's the bribe to get them to come out of their pouch. Nevertheless, it was good to see.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One Year Ago...

October 14, 2009 was a cloudy, cold day in the Midwest. M and I were on our way back from picking up two  sugar gliders who were just a little frightened and uncertain about what was going on. They were a 5-month old brother and sister we named CB and Foehn. We had asked for two young females and were told they would be available, but that wasn't the case. I was close to walking out of the breeder's home empty-handed, but something told me to go ahead. During the ride home we discussed how this wasn't what we thought it would be (in terms of not getting what we asked for) and whether we had gotten ourselves into something more than we initially bargained for. Foehn was the more frightened of the two and she let us know during the five-hour drive home, crabbing at every opportunity and adopting a defensive posture when we peeked in the stinky pouch they had. Her brother CB, well, if he was frightened he didn't show it. He slept during the entire ride and seemed unfazed by his noisy sister. One thing was clear - these two had distinctly different personalities.

One year later, we are happy we made the decision we did. Not only were CB and Foehn removed from a crummy living situation, but they have won our hearts and we their trust. It's taken a lot of patience, persistence, and more than a few anxious moments (most of which have been documented in this blog). It was such a good experience that we felt ready to adopt two additional gliders in need of a new home in March of this year. Virga and Cirrus are older and were more wary, but what we learned with CB and Foehn helped us to work with them to overcome their fear and to eventually create that bond. It was cemented when they were introduced to CB and Foehn in July, and all four are now happily living together.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stranded

It was a long week, and M and I were both tired. However, last night it was time for the gang to get some play time, so I set up the tent and moved the stuff I needed inside. M brought two pouches to me - two gliders in each. For some reason they split sleeping arrangements sometime during the day. After I coaxed them out, I placed the pouches outside the tent and M came and hung them back in the cage. She headed off to bed, and the four gliders and I were in the tent for play time. They were slow to come up to speed, but before long they were about as active as I had seen them in some time. No sleeping in the boat, no crawling under the sheet on the floor, just a lot of running, climbing, and jumping, and a lot of it on me. After about an hour and a quarter of this, I decided to call it quits. I was tired and had a headache developing. I went to unzip the tent and get the pouch I use to carry them back to the cage, only, it wasn't there. Both M and I had forgotten to grab it when we set things up. Now you are probably wondering why I just didn't let myself out and go get it. If they had been in one of their more quiet moods, maybe I could have done that. There was no way I was going to do that tonight, at least without one or more escapees. As soon as they hear me removing the binder clip the holds the zippers at least two and usually all four of them are there in a flash. The know that sound means the pouch is coming and they are going back to their cage where dinner is waiting. I tried a couple of times to quietly open it, but no luck - they were four furry bodies there immediately. M was already in bed asleep and wouldn't hear me calling. I thought maybe I could wait them out, as usually they wind down at some point, which is usually when we call it a night.

Forty minutes passed and they were still going full speed. My eyes were getting heavy and my head was hurting. I tried sneaking the zipper open again, but failed. I think they were also getting anxious to get out. I clipped the binder back on the zipper to wait some more. As I sat there wondering what to do next, I counted only three gliders. I looked in the boat - nothing. I checked under the sheet - nothing. I checked the tree to see if someone was on the back side out of my view - nope. There were only three gliders in the tent - someone was missing. The zipper was clipped shut, so I couldn't figure out how anyone got out. Until I checked again. I had apparently missed one of the three zippers, and it was pushed open about three inches. That was Virga's M.O., I thought, and checked who was in the tent. CB, Cirrus, Foehn, but no Virga. I didn't hear her running around outside the tent, which had me a little worried. Well, there was not much to lose now, as I had to find her before she got into trouble. With Cirrus crawling up and down my back and shoulders, I unzipped the tent and quickly got out, fending off CB and Foehn as I did. I managed to direct Cirrus back into the tent, and then zipped it up. As I walked into the office to get the pouch, there was Virga climbing on the side of the cage. I opened the door and let her in, then went back to get the others. In five minutes they were all back in the cage, stuff was put away, and I was headed to bed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Barks Have No Bite

It been two weeks since my last post - too long!. Between a business trip and other things I haven't had the time to sit down until now, so I thought I would provide a little update on the subject of my last post. Our theory about the barking may have been correct, but it wasn't repeatable. We are past the time when Virga and Foehn should have come into heat according to our last figuring, and we didn't see the same barking behavior as last time. Cirrus is next up (today in fact), so we'll see what happens. As started to write this there were a few quiet barks from the pouch, but your guess as as good as mine as to who it may have been. There aren't many other signs that one of them is in heat, except that CB tends to stay off by himself sometimes.

There hasn't been a lot new recently. They finally have become a lot more active during tent time. All four of them start spending 10 or 15 minutes grooming themselves, and then gradually come out and start running around. On Monday and Tuesday they were having a grand old time, so much so that I really hated to stop it. Last night was a different story, and they spent the better part of an hour all tucked in the boat. 

Foehn checks out the action from the boat
They have been getting plenty of exercise, however. M has been the one to give them their yogurt treat in the morning, and over the last month or so they have started to frolic and explore around the office. Cirrus started it all, and now all four of them are waiting for M to come in and open the cage door in the morning. They usually take a few licks of yogurt, but play time is foremost on their mind. After 10 or 15 minutes they climb back into their cage and head for their sleeping pouch. Only on rare occasions does M have to actually round one of them up. It's interesting how this has become their routine, but it's also a little unfortunate. Within a couple of weeks we won't be able to let them run around like that anymore, and we will miss it as much as they will. I'll have more on what that's all about in a future post.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Watching the Calendar

It will be about a week or two before we know if we have it figured out. What, you ask? Well, we have three female sugar gliders, and they go into heat about every 28 days. We really hadn't paid too much attention until all of them were together. We never noticed any particular behavior with Cirrus and Virga when they were living on their own, nor with Foehn. Now that they have been together for two months, we think we have pinpointed the telltale sign - barking.

In the first two days after the pairs became a quad, Virga started barking. We thought this was related to the change in living arrangements, but now that two months have passed our perspective has changed. Two weeks ago Cirrus exhibited the same barking behavior, and a week ago Foehn did.  Now, this is not really a problem for us. We are asleep most of the time they are awake, and the barking is pretty low key. However, I think it's getting to be somewhat of a problem for CB. At the same time as the barking is occurring, CB becomes the object of their attention, and I don't think the poor guy knows what to make of it all. He is neutered and doesn't really have any interest. The ladies groom him and nuzzle him and sometimes try to mount him (yes, strange but true).  When they are all in the pouch there is a lot of "tsking" going on (tsk is the sort of hiss sound they make when annoyed). Sometimes he seems to look at us as if to say "Do I really have to go through this?" He does go sleep in a separate pouch if he has had enough, but that isn't typical. Fortunately the extra attention lasts only a day or two. He still is a pretty laid back glider, and since they all really do like being together he puts up with it most of the time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Togetherness

It's been very interesting to observe the behavior of our sugar gliders since the "merge" in late July. As I have mentioned before, Virga and Cirrus really came out of their shells and have really endeared themselves to us, especially to M. Cirrus waits up every morning for M to come in and give her a yogurt treat (and she is about the only one who does stay up), and comes to the side of the tent when M comes over and calls to her. Virga no longer crabs or bites, and will readily climb on to my hand or arm.  All four gliders are getting along well. As for sleeping arrangements, they have been all settling down in a large pouch the M made for them with only an occasional exception.  Once in  while one glider may sleep in one of the other two pouches we leave hanging in the cage, both a one or two glider pouch. About a week ago, however, all four of them decided they wanted to cram themselves into the smallest pouch in the cage. We thought it was only temporary, maybe a night or two, but just about every night since they pile in to sleep. Surprisingly, there is little hissing and fussing considering it's hard to distinguish bodies when you look in the pouch.

The large "fourplex" is on the left, the smaller pouch on the right. The large pouch is 9 inches wide.

This is what four of them in the small pouch looks like. Lots of arms, tails, and fur.

They are having a good time playing together as well. This week I have been setting up a wheel in the tent for a change of pace. Typically one or two of them will get in the wheel, and sometimes a third will hang on the outside for a ride. The other night, however, all four gliders were in the wheel at the same time and they kept at it for a good ten minutes. It almost made me dizzy just watching them, and even Cirrus seemed a little wobbly when she got off. Unfortunately I did not have the camera with me to document this first. However, last night three of them did hop in the wheel, and I was ready with the camera. A video would have been neat, but the photo will do.  The wheel was spinning at the time, and you can see two of them aren't going in the same direction! I think the one running is CB, with Cirrus and Foehn along for the ride.

CB (running), Foehn, and Cirrus in the wheel

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Good Golly Miss Molly

Our venture into the word of sugar gliders came full circle this week. We cared for Molly, our son's glider, this past week while he was away on vacation. It was Molly who wormed her way into our hearts this time last year (under the same circumstances) and ultimately led us to adopt Foehn and CB, and six months later Virga and Cirrus. She is still a little sweetheart, although she was a little bit more nervous this year. That is no doubt due to the fact that there are four other gliders in the house and it's been awhile since she has seen me and M. However, after a day or two she was herself, and of course M spoiled her the whole week. M had a new pink sleeping pouch for her which Molly quickly took to. She also gave Molly some extra treats, and she had her own "keifer and meal worm" snack time that our gliders have every day. I spent some time in the tent with her each night, and on most nights she did not want to quit. I had to coax and/or bribe her into her pouch in order to get her back to her cage.  It made for long nights as I also had time in the the with our four usually before Molly. We're back on  regular schedule tonight as we returned Molly to our son last night.

Molly in her new sleeping pouch

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Week in the Northwoods

It's been a week since we returned from a relaxing six days in northern Wisconsin with our friends. The gliders accompanied us on the trip. Our trip north was two legs, which was good considering our late departure on Saturday was delayed by several hours. This was the first time we stayed overnight in a motel with the gang. We were concerned that we might not be able to set up the pet playpen in a room due to the size (48" diameter). However, the room we were given also doubled as a conference room for the hotel, so it was, in a word, huge. We were not only able to set up the playpen, but the tent as well, so they were able to get some exercise. The stay in the playpen was going to be their first, and we were hoping the night was going to go OK. As it turned out everything went well.

On Sunday we arrived at our destination. We set up the gliders' vacation home in our room. It had most of the amenities - their wheel, some of the toys they normally have in their cage, and their sleeping pouches. The whole thing only stands about 32", so the only thing they were lacking is vertical climbing room.  Their pouches were hung from a frame I made to stand in the playpen. For the first time we also utilized a "glider kitchen" for their food. The kitchen is a plastic storage container with two access holes cut in the sides. Their food is placed inside. If the little guys decide to fling their food around, as they sometimes do, it stays in the "kitchen". This was something new for them, but they didn't seem to mind it.

The gliders seemed to be as relaxed as we were during the week. I was able to have tent time with them five of the six nights there. They were active and playful each night, I think even more than they are when we're at home. They slept all day, as usual, which gave me plenty of time to fish and M plenty of time to work on her card-making.

We got an early enough start home that we decided to drive through instead of stopping overnight halfway. That had us home in early evening, plenty of time to get their dinner ready before they woke up for the night. Other than the mad scrambling on departure day, our first extended trip with the gliders was a success. I'm not sure how many of these trips there will be, but it's nice to know that we can do it if need be.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gettin' Ready for a "Family" Vacation

Good friends of ours had invited us to spend a week with them at their cabin in northern Wisconsin. With the gliders only recently a foursome (as opposed to two twosomes), we were a little apprehensive about leaving them at home for a week in the care of someone who was not that familiar with them. We asked our friends if they minded if we brought the gliders with us, and they graciously agreed. So, we prepared to take them with us. This involved planning for not only a week away from home, but two long car rides, about 7 1/2 hours each way.

Traveling with gliders is like traveling with young children. Maybe this is the case for most pets, I don't know. At any rate, it did remind me a little of getting ready for a long trip when our children were young. We had to consider everything from their food to their housing arrangements. The housing was the thing that was up in the air. Virga and Cirrus came with a 30w x 30d x 24h bird cage that is collapsible, but still is a little cumbersome to be dragging around. We had checked around on a couple of glider discussion groups for some ideas.  Everything from collapsible dog kennels to tents were considered, but what we decided on was a Ware Pop-Up Pet Playpen. It is 48 inches in diameter, about 24 inches high, and has a fair amount of room for the gliders to run around in. A local store, Farm & Fleet, carried them so I went to buy one for the trip. Our local store was out of them and didn't know when they would get more in. However, the helpful sales person told me that someone had been in to buy one that morning and she was having one sent from a store in about 50 miles west of us. "They have five", she said. So, we decided to drive to the store after work. When we arrived, the salesperson told me that no, they did not have any and hadn't had any since December. I was not happy. She did check with other stores and found a store located 80 miles north of us. She called them and had them hold one for us. We initially planned to pick it up on our way north to Wisconsin. However, what I had found on the visit to our local store was that the floor of this playpen was attached by six Velcro tabs. Gliders like to crawl under things like blankets, so this playpen was not going to work for us as it came out of the package. We decided that the solution would be to buy several yards of Velcro and sew it on the floor so the entire perimeter was sealed. It was now Thursday, so to make the modification we really needed to have the playpen Friday so we could attach the Velcro. On Friday, I made the 80 mile trip north and back, returning with playpen in hand. Sewing on the Velcro to the playpen  itself  (with a sewing machine) was a little challenging, but M was up to the challenge and the entire thing was finished in about 90 minutes. With that out of the way, all that remained was to finish packing.Of course, then we had all of the excitement on Saturday morning I wrote about in my previous post.

Here's what we packed for them:  the pop-up playpen, a small pop-up kennel for them to ride in while in the car, the pop-up tent, their wheel, some toys for them to play with, a bag with pouches, blankets, water bottle, and other miscellaneous stuff, an emergency medical kit along with Foehn's prescription from the vet, food (which had to be kept in a cooler), a frame I made from PVC pipe and plastic hardware cloth on which to hang their sleeping pouch and water bottle in the playpen, and just in case, the collapsed bird cage.

The preparations were crazy this time, mostly because of the playpen hunt. The vacation itself was great. I'll write about that in my next post.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flirting with Disaster

Early last Saturday morning, hours before we were scheduled to leave on a week's vacation in northern Wisconsin, I woke to M yelling "They are out!".  I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and slippers and headed to the office where the cage is.  M had come in to give them their morning yogurt treat and found the bottom cage door open and three gliders missing.  Only Virga remained in the cage. I had left the bottom cage door unlatched the night before. There was no telling how long they had been out or where they were.

As I came into the family room M heard a glider running in the room. It turned out to be Cirrus, and she was pretty easy to gather up and get back into the cage. Now to find the two youngsters. They could be anywhere, and with their bed time coming up we had to locate them before they found some place to curl up and go to sleep. We checked all the rooms, looked in and under the couches, and then based on our previous experience with CB went, with some dread, to check the basement. Almost as soon as we stepped off the staircase we heard some rustling - it was CB. I had a pouch with me so I set it down in front of him, and he crawled right in. Two down, one to go. I headed quickly to the other side of the basement to check the utility area where the sump well is located. As I turned the corner at the end of a wall there was Foehn. I offered her the pouch and she crawled in to join her brother. All in all the roundup only took about ten minutes, but it was ten minutes filled with anxiety and worry. CB and Foehn can get down stairs, but it is not likely they could have climbed up the 14 oak stairs from the basement.

M was checking them out after their little adventure and noticed that Foehn's pouch was inverted. It did not look irritated or infected, but it was something that had to be checked out. So, I headed into the vet while M called ahead.  Our regular vet was totally booked on that Saturday morning, so we were referred to the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic. There she was checked over and tested for an infection. Fortunately, the test was negative. However, the vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory and an oral antibiotic as a preventive measure, especially since we were going to be gone for a week. He suspected that stress may have been the reason for the inversion, although everything had been normal with her and the others.  So, with medications in hand and a sleepy glider ready to join her mates, I returned home to finish packing for our trip. This was a trip the gliders were joining us on. More on that in the next post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Colony Portrait

After a number of attempts to get a photo of all four gliders that wasn't just one jumble of fur, this morning brought success!  Today was weighing day, and on weighing day we roust them out of bed around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., bribing them with licks of yogurt and meal worms. They are usually reluctant to leave the pouch, understandably, but food always does the trick.  I managed to get this photo this morning after they all had taken a few licks of yogurt. As is usually the case,  there were a number of other photo attempts that did not turn out before I got "the" shot. This one is a little fuzzy in the foreground (incorrect camera setting), but it was the best so far. I'll continue to try and get some more group shots.

CB, Virga, Foehn, and Cirrus (back to front)
 
This was their first weighing in two weeks, and we were curious to see how this one turned out. Virga, in particular, seems to have been really chowing down the last few weeks, and were were hoping it wasn't at the expense of the rest of the crew. However, all of them had gained two grams since last time, except for Virga who was down two. We usually don't worry about week to week variations in their weight (I calculate a 4-week running average), but we didn't want to see a big drop in weight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Balls of Furry

I mentioned in my August 2 post that I would write about some of the challenges in dealing with four gliders at one time. One continuing challenge is getting a good photo of all four of them at the same time - still working on that one!

With only two gliders, it's pretty easy to tell if there are two in a pouch. With four, it's not quite as easy to see how many are there, especially if they are all tucked in sleeping. On the third night of tent time with the four of them, I had everything set up and crawled into the tent. M handed me the pouch and I began coaxing them out. "Uh, M...there are only three in here."  She quickly ran and checked the cage.  Sure enough, CB had at some point decided to settle into one of the smaller pouches. So, now when we take them out we count heads - literally. It is impossible to count bodies or tails or anything when the are all curled up asleep on the bottom of the pouch, frequently on top of each other. The only way to be sure is to count heads.

"Supervising" the gliders the first few nights of tent time was also something that was different.  They were getting along, but occasionally there were conflicts in which I decided to intervene. They have worked out their differences and the last couple of times they have had a great time together. It's harder to tell who is who in the tent since the lights are dimmed, but I have been pretty successful in telling them apart by their behavior and personalities. For example, Foehn and CB will only rarely climb on to my hand or arm. Virga, on the other hand, readily will climb on to my arm if I offer it to her.

When it's time for them to leave the tent, all four will head for the pouch once I set it down.  However, I now have to be a little quicker in getting them back to their cage. Almost every time now there is some hissing and crabbing in the pouch, probably because someone put a foot in someone's face as they try to get comfortable.

Food has not been as much of a challenge as we had thought it would be. When they were in separate cages, Foehn and CB always cleaned their plates, so to speak. There was rarely any food left in their dishes in the morning. Virga and Cirrus, on the other hand often left food uneaten, although they were getting better about it before the merge. Food plates are almost always empty now, and no one seems to be going without. Virga has gone from 80 grams when she came to us to 93 grams at the last weight check. The others are slowly gaining or holding steady We'll have to keep an eye on their weights to make sure each glider is getting the food they need.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Confusing Communication

After a stretch of several days of quiet with the gliders, I had an interesting time with them in the tent a few nights ago. That night, Foehn and Cirrus were having some serious issues with each other. Foehn seemed to be the one that was taking exception. They would approach each other, sniff a bit, and then one or the other would crab, hiss, and lunge. We were not sure what was going on as they have always gotten along (Virga was the one who was having difficulty adjusting early on). Foehn would bark from time to time as if she wanted attention or was looking for someone, but then didn't like the attention she was getting. One other thing I noticed was that Foehn was making a faint and somewhat rapid clicking sound when they were near each other. It reminded me of the sound of someone's teeth chattering. The only other time I heard this before is when we were first introducing them in the bathtub, and Foehn was making this sound as they were checking each other out. There as obviously some communication, or miscommunication, going on. I posted a note to Glider Central (a glider forum we frequent) asking about the clicking, and the consensus was that the clicking was benign, more of a greeting rather than a warning. Whatever was causing the problem, I think Cirrus eventually figured out that it was just best to avoid Foehn that night and there weren't any serious encounters after the first few.

What has continued to amaze us is that no matter how these "disputes" start, they all end up getting along just fine. The next morning they were all comfortably sleeping together in their large pouch, and apparently Foehn and Cirrus resolved whatever was causing them conflict the night before.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Transformation

We adopted Virga and Cirrus (now 7 going on 8 years old) in March. They were two very different personalities compared to CB and Foehn. For a long time they were wary of their new surroundings, naturally, and Virga in particular had her idiosyncrasies. She would crab loudly if she was disturbed in her pouch, and would frequently lunge and bite if you placed your hand in the pouch. The crabbing went on even if you weren't actually bothering her, but she sensed you might. Cirrus was not as bad, and in fact seemed at times to look at Virga as if to say "Would you give it up already?" We figured part of her noise-making may have been related to her previous home where there were cats around, and perhaps she had been scared or startled while in the pouch. Over the last few months she has improved in this regard, but the real transformation came in the past 10 days, following their introduction to CB and Foehn.

I mentioned in my last post that I had developed a soft spot for Virga, as she seemed to be the outsider in this colony and retreated to me when she got in a tussle with either Foehn or CB (usually Foehn). The first several days of the new arrangement did have its rough moments. Virga would come up to Foehn and sniff her, or try to groom her, and Foehn would take exception. This happened a few times in the tent as well as in the cage, but when all was said and done all four gliders were together in their pouch in the morning. Over the last five days we have noticed a remarkable change in Virga. She no longer crabs in the pouch, lunges, or tries to bite. She and the rest of the crew all get along well now, and it has been two or three days since she and Foehn have had a spat. In the tent she climbs and jumps with the rest of them, and will readily climb on to my hand or arm. She will sit still and let us pet her, something she didn't really like that much a month or so ago. Virga and Cirrus always seemed to have an indifferent attitude toward food. When I would come in to give them all some yogurt licks in the morning, Cirrus and Virga would take a few and then ignore further offerings. M gives them their morning yogurt now, and says Virga and Cirrus are first out for theirs and can't get enough.

The successful introduction of our four gliders was a long time in coming, but the wait was worth it. Virga and Cirrus seem to be much happier and have bonded more with us, and we think Foehn and CB like this new arrangement as well. Dealing with four gliders all at once, as opposed to one pair at a time, has presented a couple of challenges and interesting moments this past week. More on that in the next post. My next challenge is to get a good photo of all four of them together for the blog page.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weekend Update Wrapup

Sunday morning is weigh-in time for the gliders. In the past we coaxed them out two at a time, but the new living arrangements required some adjustment. Fortunately, everyone cooperated, and after each one was weighed I put them back in the cage. They all headed back toward a sleeping pouch. Virga picked the large group pouch and settled in there, but Foehn, CB, and Cirrus went to one of the smaller pouches.

I was in the office late in the afternoon and was checking on them when Virga popped her head out of the pouch, seemingly looking for something. She slowly crawled out and climbed to the floor of the cage. Once there she was sniffing and searching on the fleece blankets, and it hit me that she was searching for the other gliders, or at least Cirrus.When she satisfied herself that no one was in the blankets, she checked the pouches and found them asleep in one. She climbed in and squiggled into position. Then. she barked once, and about 20 seconds later, barked again. They were single barks, and she kept this up for about three hours, occasionally stopping for longer periods of time. We were a little perplexed with this, as none of them had ever barked like this, and never for so long. Because there was a slight hiss at the end of the bark, we thought something was wrong, and some sort of hiccups came to mind. However, after posting on one of the glider discussion groups we were assured that this was not too unusual. Gliders communicate by barking ( we knew that), but it was the way she was barking that had us wondering what was going on. Apparently, Virga was happy to be with the rest of the gliders and was trying to let hem know that (even though they were asleep most of that time). The barking continued while they were in the tent late that evening.

Virga so far has been somewhat of the outsider of the group and I've developed a soft spot for her. She is trying, but tends to annoy the the younger gliders, especially Foehn who seems to have little patience with her. When she has a spat with Foehn in the tent, she runs up on to my lap or my arm and keeps her distance from the rest of the group for a few minutes. Last night she was the most active we've seen her in a long time, and for the first time she didn't nip me at all, even lightly. She is the largest and oldest of the gliders (Cirrus is the same age) and may be trying to establish her place in the group. Despite the occasional spats, in the morning they are all together sleeping in the large pouch, and that's progress.

Four groggy gliders waking up for the weekly weight check.
CB (L) and Cirrus (R) are looking out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More News from the Big Weekend

It's been 48 hours since the introductions were complete, and I have to say things have gone remarkably well for the most part.  Foehn and Virga have their differences, but they are all getting along.  Their little spats have me  mildly apprehensive, but no one is being aggressive so I'm less worried than on Saturday.

There were a couple of neat things that happened this weekend during the introduction process and in the 24 hours following. The first occurred during CB's and Cirrus' introduction.  Once they were satisfied with each other, Cirrus took advantage of her freedom in the bathroom. Her favorite things was to climb up the sheer outer shower curtain to the shower rod, and then glide off.  I was sitting on the bathroom floor, and she landed in my lap the first time. Once she got her bearings after the jump, she ran to the curtain, climbed to the rod, and glided again. I had a large piece of fleece to use in case we had to break up any glider fights, and I used that to "catch" her as she glided down. I didn't want her to hit the counter or something else. Cirrus ended up gliding about a dozen times, and reminded me of a toddler who has just learned to slide down a playground slide, and keeps on going back to slide down again and again. By the last few she was going for distance, and I had to catch her before she hit the bathroom door. It was nice to know the ol' reflexes are still there! I wasn't able to get a photo of her in flight, but I did get one of her on the shower rod poised to launch. During Foehn's introduction she also climbed to the rod and glided off a couple of times, but Cirrus had the most fun by far!  She may be the smallest of our gliders, but she is a little bundle of energy. Saturday night she spent almost a solid two hours running and playing the wheel before she took a break to eat something.

Cirrus atop the shower rod, ready to glide.

Yesterday afternoon we observed some interesting behavior from Virga, but I'll save that for the next installment of the Weekend Update.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Occasional flashes of lightning and muffled rumbles of thunder filled the room as I brought all four gliders into the tent for their first "tent time" together.  I was a little apprehensive about how this would work out. I would have to keep track of four gliders climbing the walls of the tent, the artificial tree, and me to make sure there were no nasty encounters. Although they were all in the pouch together, they were sleeping,  and I wasn't sure how things were going to go when they were essentially up for their "day" and active. They were already stirring before we got into the tent, and they crawled out of the pouch without too much coaxing.  So far so good. This was a new experience for them, and they spent a few minutes checking things out. However, it wasn't long before the first dust-up occurred. Virga was sniffing Foehn, Foehn took exception and I had to break them up. Someone chomped down on my finger, and it hurt! No broken skin, though. There were a few more encounters, and on observation it was mostly Foehn who was taking exception to Virga (she gets along fine with Cirrus). Virga was actually jumping to my lap and arm when these happened, obviously a little scared.  I was now a little more than concerned about how the night would go. M had made a large pouch for them during the afternoon and I had washed the big cage, moved a second wheel into it, and we had set it up with the expectation all four would be living in it. Now I wasn't so sure that this was a good idea right off the bat.  As tent time wore on things calmed down some more and we decided that we'd go ahead with the cage arrangements. We also decided that we would stay up as long as we could to watch them and make sure things were under control.

There were a few more hisses and crabs between Virga and Foehn in the cage. Virga tended to stay off by herself and avoid Foehn and the others. Cirrus and CB would occasionally come over and check her out, but they were spending a lot of time on the wheels. In fact, I think Cirrus spent the first two hours almost continuously on the wheel. We thought they would all be exhausted after the serial introductions during the morning and afternoon, but apparently not. About 2:00 a.m. we decided to grab some sleep. M had put a blanket down on the family room floor, near the cage, and we went to sleep. We were close enough to intervene if needed.

M was awakened about 3:00 a.m. when she felt something on her face. It turned out it was little pieces watermelon. One of the gliders was apparently flinging their fruit outside of the cage on to her face about three feet away. I was unscathed. At that point things were quiet and decided to head for the comfort of our bed. When we woke up this morning all four of the gliders were in the large pouch. There was some hissing and crabbing at times as one of the gliders probably put a foot in the face of another as they squirmed to get comfortable, but otherwise everyone seemed to be getting along.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Major Development

We made two previous attempts to introduce Virga and Cirrus to CB and Foehn. These attempts were made after many days of swapping pouches and blankets, and moving their cages near each other at night. Those first two attempts did not go well, with much defensiveness, crabbing, and one or two ball-ups. After that, M suggested that we try introducing them one at a time when we felt they were more acclimated to each other. Today was that day.

First up this morning were Cirrus and CB.  We introduced them in the bathroom tub since that is a neutral spot.  They tentatively approached each other and sniffed and neither seemed bothered. Cirrus complained once when CB was sniffing her, but within a few minutes they were fine and off running around the bathroom, climbing the shower curtain and gliding off.  Eventually we put a pouch on the floor and CB immediately climbed in (he wasn't too thrilled with having his sleep time disturbed), and not long after Cirrus followed.  There was some squirming around as they got comfortable, but they eventually settled in and went to sleep. Two down, two to go. 

After about an hour we roused Foehn from her pouch into the bathtub. We then turned Cirrus and CB into the tub along with Foehn. There was a little tension as they noticed each other. Cirrus cautiously approached Foehn and started sniffing, but Foehn, a little skittish, went after her and they ended up in a ball for a few seconds until I broke them up. Cirrus managed to chomp on my finger pretty good, but otherwise no harm was done. After they calmed down a bit I put my hands over both of them as they started sniffing each other out. They all are pretty familiar with my handling them from tent time, so having something familiar and secure seemed to help calm them down. After a couple of minutes of sniffing each other with one under each hand, Cirrus and Foehn jumped out of the tub and ran around the bathroom, both of them getting few glides from the shower rod, while CB crawled under the rug to get some rest. When they started to slow down we laid the pouch down again, and CB and Cirrus crawled in. Foehn followed, but then came out, not quite sure what to make of everything. After a few more minutes of running around she crawled in the pouch. Three down, one to go.

Foehn, CB, and Cirrus were hiding under the rug.
We waited several hours before introducing Virga, following the same routine as before. Last time we tried to introduce her she immediately assumed the defensive "ninja" position and that ended that. Today was better, Cirrus came out and went to her, with Foehn and CB close behind. Before they got to close to each other I placed my hand over Virga and Foehn to keep them calm, and it seemed to help. There was one brief tussle but it was pretty minor. All four of them were anxious to get out of the tub and play in the bathroom. Foehn and Virga had another encounter on the shower rod, but M was able to keep that from escalating. When it was time to wind things up, we put the pouch on the floor. CB, Cirrus, and Foehn crawled in. Virga tentatively followed. They were quiet for a minute or two, but then there was crabbing and hissing and I reached in to fish them all out. About five minutes later we tried again and they all crawled in the pouch. There was a lot of squirming, an occasional crab and hiss. As long as I kept my hand in the pouch things were calm - a security blanket, of sorts?  Right now all are all sound asleep in a large bonding pouch. The next step is tent time tonight. although after all of today's activity I don't think they will have much energy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back At It

I was gone all of last week so the gliders missed out on their tent time. M had them out in the afternoon for the "snack", but their brief time out isn't quite the same. Besides, they are still a little groggy then - it's about the middle of their sleep time. All four gliders have been happy to be back on schedule. Tonight was the ladies turn. Cirrus was especially active, running and climbing on the tent, the tree, and me. Virga in general isn't as active - maybe it's her age - but she was having a good time tonight.  She likes to climb on the back of my hand and "groom" my wrist. I'm not quite sure what that is all about. It's not like Cirrus, who licks me. Virga uses her teeth to "scrape" my skin, and occasionally she gets a little too much between her teeth and she pinches - hard. She seemed to have a particularly good time doing that tonight! They were still going strong after 90 minutes, but I decided to end it after Cirrus gave me a face hug and managed to get her back toe in my left nostril.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Summer Doldrums

While sitting in the tent tonight waiting for Foehn and CB to become more active (they never did), I realized that it's been almost two weeks since I posted anything about the gliders. Too much going on with summer, work, and the long holiday weekend. I should have brought the laptop in the tent with me, but then this would have been a night where the "kids" would have been running and jumping all over the tent and me. It's interesting how they almost seem to alternate nights. One night they won't do much of anything, and the next time they are running all over the place and you don't want to end their fun. Tonight was not one of those nights. They spent most of their time either under the sheet that we put on the tent floor, or hanging out on their tree. I called it quits just short of an hour. They are back in their cage and someone (Foehn, probably) has been running in the wheel ever since. Go figure.

Virga and Cirrus don't seem to have this same cycle as Foehn and CB.  They are usually both active every night, with Cirrus the most energetic one. Last night was their turn in the tent, and Virga was getting discouraged because she wasn't able to climb the side of the tent as easily as she did before. Yesterday afternoon both the ladies had their nails trimmed, so Virga was not able to grab the fine mesh of the tent as surely as she did prior to her manicure. Her nails were getting pretty long, and when they get long enough they start to curl and easily can get snagged. I have a sheet of 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper attached to their wheel to help keep their nails under control. However, we don't think Virga uses the wheel nearly as much as Cirrus, and when she does, she often is just along for the ride - Cirrus is the one running. So, last night Virga finally resigned herself to the fact that she was not going to get in her ambitious climbs. On the other hand, she hung out on me more than usual, seemingly appreciative that I rescued her from a precarious situation or two where she jumped and couldn't quite get her grip on landing. Virga should be back in her old climbing form in another day or two.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Playing Around

Both pairs of gliders enjoy their time in the tent at night, more on some days than others. M has picked up a few things at garage sales for them to play on in the tent. A favorite is a cloth covered ark that we hang from the roof of the tent. This is a child's toy about 15 inches long and 12 inches high. They can climb on and in it. CB and Foehn prefer to crawl inside the ark and then poke their heads out the windows. CB especially likes the fact he can get into the ark and groom himself without Foehn hassling him. Cirrus and Virga like to climb on the outside of the ark but rarely crawl inside.



Cirrus has become the more active one when the ladies are in the tent. She loves to run around the tent, climb up the sides, jump on to my shoulder, and then run down again. One of her favorite things to do is run along the floor on the side of the tent, then stop about every foot or two and get up on her rear legs to look out.  I'm not sure what she is looking for, but it is fun to watch her curiosity at work.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Weather Thing Only Goes So Far

This was a stormy week, with thunderstorms just about every day. They were particularly strong on Tuesday afternoon. Apparently giving the gliders weather related names doesn't mean they are fond of all the noise that accompanies thunderstorms around here.  On Tuesday afternoon Virga and Cirrus did not like having their sleep disturbed by the thunder and began crabbing in their pouch. That's the first time any of them have been bothered by the thunder, but these storms may have been the worst we have experienced this year.

Over the last two weeks we have seen some big changes in Cirrus' and Virga's behavior.  M has been able to pet both of them in the pouch without them crabbing. It wasn't two weeks ago when they would crab (and occasionally bite) if you bothered them while they were sleeping. They also have been more comfortable with me in the tent. Cirrus, in particular, has taken to grooming me each time. She will sit and lick my arm or my hand for a minute or two at a time. Virga has joined her a time or two, however she tends to let her teeth get into it a little more than I prefer. They really seemed to have changed their "attitude" in the last two weeks, and we think it may be to the point where we can try introductions to CB and Foehn again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bonding Progress

I just finished some time in the tent with Virga and Cirrus, and the "kids" are still sleeping.  Since they were in for the day by the time I came in at 6:15 this morning and only up for a brief time this afternoon for their snack, they have been sleeping for, oh, about 15 hours. Not only have they been turning in earlier because of the early sunrise, but they seem to have been sleeping longer as well.

Bonding has been progressing well with Virga and Cirrus. They have no qualms about climbing on us or jumping onto my arm or shoulders in the tent. They had a good time this afternoon climbing on M and exploring.  They both are starting to enjoy (or getting used to) being petted. The only time they seem to be holding back is when they are in their pouches (either sleeping or bonding). Virga, in particular, seems to have the biggest issues. Tonight they ended up in separate pouches after their afternoon snack, M took Cirrus, and I had Virga. M had her hand in the pouch with Cirrus who had no complaints.  I had Virga in her pouch on my lap and she started crabbing over the slightest disturbance. I opened the pouch to check on her and she turned up the volume while also assuming the "ninja" pose. So,  left her alone and she eventually calmed down. What's interesting is that she has no problems when we are in the tent or when we are feeding her snacks. There is no crabbing, no biting, no running away, and in fact she is rather laid back. It seems be only when she is in either the sleeping or bonding pouch. This is giving me some misgivings about the success of eventual introductions to CB & Foehn. While they may get along fine when they are out and about. I am worried that when it comes to potential pouch sharing that there could be issues. It's possible that each pair will sleep in separate pouches by choice which is no problem. We just have to be sure there are going to be no territorial squabbles

Well, CB and Foehn are now up and around, and the ladies have turned in for a nap after eating a little of their dinner. Time for me to turn in as well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Escape Artist

Tonight was Virga's and Cirrus' turn in the tent. Since all four can't be in the tent together yet, I alternate nights between the pairs. Both Cirrus and Virga crawled out of their pouch quickly tonight and were pretty active. Virga has been doing this thing where she "pushes" her head against the side of the tent and really gets her whole body into it. We are not sure why she is doing this, and we have been discouraging this by gently blowing on her, which distracts her and she stops for awhile and climbs around. But, she will go back to doing this until either we blow on her or Cirrus comes around and gets her attention.

The other night during their tent time I was watching TV while sitting in the tent and noticed that things were quiet. I looked around and saw that Cirrus and Virga were both outside the tent.  "Uh oh." Fortunately, they were crawling into their pouch which was sitting where I normally put it just outside the tent. I unzipped the tent and brought the pouch inside with me. I reminded myself to carefully check to be sure the zippers are completely closed.

Fast forward to tonight. I was playing with Cirrus and looked over to where Virga was, and she wasn't. She was outside the tent again crawling on their pouch!  I was sure I had closed the zippers tightly, but maybe not. I was able to grab her before she was able to run off and get her back into the tent, but she wasn't happy about it. It was only a few minutes more and I turned just in time to see her tail exiting the tent. This time I had to get up and go after her since she decided to do a little exploring. She ended up on our entertainment center, and crawled into the pouch when I offered it to her. This time I made sure the zippers were closed, although I was certain they were closed before.  I kept the pouch inside the tent, since that seemed to be what was getting her attention. That worked for awhile, but the next thing I know there she is again on the outside of the tent. This time M was in the room and was able to coax her into the pouch after she had climbed up one of the windows in the family room. Once we got her back into the tent (one last time) we decided to see how she was doing this.  M held the zippers closed from the outside, and we let Virga make her attempt. It turns out Virga is able to work her nose in between the bottom zippers and the top one and force the top one open. I'll have to use a twist tie or something to keep those zippers closed in the future.

The "three zipper junction" in the Genji tent, site of Virga's numerous escapes

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting Reacquainted

I was traveling for five days last week and as a result, the gliders missed out on tent time during that period. M has trouble getting into and out of the tent with her arthritis, so they had to do without. However, that doesn't mean they were ignored.  M got up each morning to give them their morning snack of yogurt  that I usually give them, and also had them out in the late afternoon each day. On Sunday night, my first night home, I came in to check on them all CB and Foehn were up and around. When CB heard my voice he started to bark. Coincidence?  I don't know, but that's the first time it has happened. Our first tent time in a week was last night, and they were a little tentative (no pun intended!) They did not climb on me as much as they usually do, but by the time we ended things they were back to normal.  Virga and Cirrus had their tent time tonight, and they didn't miss a beat. Cirrus was having quite a ball jumping from one thing to another. Virga was a little slower to get started but managed to get plenty of climbing and jumping in herself.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flower Power

After CB and Foehn loved their flower pouch so much, M decided to try her hand at making one for Virga and CB. She finished it about a week ago, and they have been enjoying it ever since! This month has been rather cool so far, so both pairs of gliders like to sleep in these warm pouches. Here's a photo of Cirrus (left) and Virga (right) peeking out from their new sleeping pouch.


Virga and Cirrus have been with us two months now and they have done well.  They are becoming more and more comfortable around us, and both of them will let us pet them now and seem to enjoy it. They like their time in the tent at night, and have learned that when the pouch is brought in and set down that it is time to go back to their cage for dinner. That makes life easier for all of us. Speaking of eating, Cirrus has been slowly gaining weight and is now up to 65 grams. M says she has a hard time sometimes telling them apart now, but to me, at least, Cirrus is noticeably smaller. In fact, they are easier to tell apart than CB and Foehn by their coloring. Virga has more black around her eyes, a darker and broader dorsal stripe on her head, and more black on her legs. We wonder if she might be what is called a Black Beauty.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

M has been switching pouches between cages and blankets between pouches for a couple of weeks now. This is to get each pair used to the others scent. That has gone well, as none of the gliders are hesitating about sleeping a pouch the other pair has been in. We also move their cages close together at night so they get used to each other. We tried an introduction a couple of weeks ago, but that didn't go well, mostly because we didn't make it "neutral" enough.  We decided to take it slower and not rush things.

Today M was giving them all their regular afternoon snack (meal worms with a side of Kefir). She usually does this on my desk in the office. Virga and Cirrus had theirs and M had them in a zippered bonding pouch around her neck. (The bonding pouch has a screen window in the front). Normally, they don't pay much attention to each other. Cirrus was pawing at the pouch trying to get out. CB and Foehn were munching on their meal worms when Cirrus noticed them and finally stopped clawing at the pouch.  She and Virga just stared at CB and Foehn. CB then decided to check out the pouch. BIG mistake. Cirrus wanted to get at CB through the pouch in a major way.  Virga decided to come to the aid of her sister and she tried to get at him, too. At that point CB had grabbed the pouch, and Foehn decide to come to his assistance. There was a lot of noise from Cirrus and Virga, and M got bit hard several times by CB as she tried to get him off of the pouch. It sounded like a pretty wild minute or two. She did get CB and Foehn separated from the pouch and everyone back in their respective cages. CB and Foehn were scared and shaking for awhile afterward, but did calm down. All four of the gliders were otherwise OK - they were physically separated by the pouch and couldn't get at each other. However, it was not a great sign.

Foehn and CB seem to be more curious than anything else. Both in the first intro attempt and today's incident, they were more interested in sniffing and checking things out. Cirrus and Virga seem to be more defensive or aggressive and don't appreciate being "checked out". They still crab some when you bother them while they are in their pouch, so something is going on (although the crabbing has been less and less).  Maybe some of this is the age difference - the young kids vs. seasoned adults. Whatever is the reason, it looks like it will be some time before we'll know if they can all live together in the same cage.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Morning Treat, or a Warm Bed?

Our morning ritual is taking a little longer lately. With the sun rising earlier each day, all four gliders seem to be turning in earlier. I usually come in with their yogurt treat around 6:15 a.m., and for the last week or so they have all been in their respective pouches already.  All I have to do, though, is ask "Is anybody awake?" and a little head pops up out of a pouch. CB has been the one to come up and out of their pouch first. Foehn has been curious, but not always enough to actually climb out and come out on to my lap for her treat. Interestingly, Cirrus and Virga are getting into the same routine.  Cirrus will poke her head out of the pouch when she hears me, and then climb out and come to the side of the cage for her licks. Virga eventually realizes that Cirrus is gone after a couple of minutes and climbs out to join her sister. Fortunately they don't all come out at the same time (Cirrus and Virga usually take a little longer), otherwise trying to keep four gliders in two separate cages happy would be quite a trick!

M has been changing their pouches each month in keeping with a theme, and this month it is flowers. She found a neat "flower" pouch that we bought. Since it hangs and is pretty long, it has to go in Foehn and CB's cage. They love it.  It is deep and has just a small opening in the middle of flower. They apparently like it so much in fact, that they have passed on their yogurt treat the last few mornings. They look out when I show up in the morning, but I can't seem to interest them in the yogurt. It's apparently not enough for them to give up the comfort of a nice warm pouch. So far I'm 0 for 2. This pouch hangs from the top of the cage instead of on the side like the others, so it tends to swing when you bump or move the cage, and that often gets the gliders stirring. M was cleaning their cage today when both Foehn and CB popped their heads out to see what all the commotion was about. M plans to make a similar pouch for Cirrus and Virga soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Does Size Matter?

One of our regular routines with the gliders is their weekly weigh-in.  We started this within about a month of Foehn and CB's arrival. Monitoring their weight is an easy way to monitor their overall health, as any sudden change in weight can signal a more serious health problem. I like having a simple way to monitor their general well-being, and being a scientist I keep track of the data we collect. Yes, it's in a spreadsheet. Their weight can vary from week to week, so I calculate a four-week running average. That's a good way to smooth out the weekly variations and still be able to detect a trend.

The "normal" weight range for adult gliders is 95-135 grams for females and 115-160 grams for males.  We've read about some gliders that tip the scales at well over 200 grams (and one as high as 275), often referred to as "fluffy" gliders (not to be confused with the Yellow-Bellied Glider, commonly known as a Fluffy Glider).  To compare the weight to something common, Cirrus weighs the equivalent of about 12 nickels. A "fluffy" glider at 200 grams weighs the equivalent of  a roll of 40 nickels. 

Since we have been weighing Foehn and CB, they both have gained about 7 to 8 grams.  Foehn is about 78 grams, and CB comes in at about 85 grams. They are still youngsters, only 10 months old. Gliders usually attain their full adult weight somewhere between one and two years old.  Virga and Cirrus, on the other hand, are 7 years old and full adults. Cirrus weighs just 62 grams, while Virga is closer to normal at 81 grams. When Cirrus came into our home she was just 59 grams, so her weight gain, while small in an absolute sense, is significant. Foehn and CB appear to be on track for achieving normal weight, but probably the lower end of the range. Cirrus is obviously well below the normal weight for an adult female, a Virga is smaller than normal as well.  However, both are active, healthy, and eat well.  As long as that's the case, then size doesn't matter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little Ninja Ladies

Well, our 7 yr old ladies are quite easily annoyed when inside their pouch. They are by no means "pouch protective" in that they do not fear you putting your hand in their pouch, or touching it. They are more the "leave us alone we are not in the mood for you" kind of annoyed.

Gliders who get scared are said to do a ninja stance. That is, they stand on their hind legs, crab (their mad noise, which is surprisingly loud for such a little animal), and thrust their little fisted hands toward the thing they fear. We never really noticed this with Foehn and CB.  Foehn surely did it while zipped in the bonding pouch early on, but, we were so afraid of them jumping out and running away that we never really opened the pouch to get a look. But, Virga will do this if I continue to look in their sleeping pouch once they have let me know they are not interested in seeing me. The first time, it took me by surprise and I just had to laugh. Here are these little 5 inch animals that weigh as much as a napkin, laying on their back, crabbing and sort of baring their teeth, with their little hands in a tight fist, threatening me! Usually, once Virga starts, Cirrus joins in, in a form of solidarity, I suppose.

So, here are two little creatures, trying to look vicious, and all you want to do is rub their tummies and pet them on their heads. Now, this is by no means an empty threat. They can and do lunge in a strike that carries a bite which can be quite surprising as well as painful. It is difficult to get a good picture of our "Ninja Ladies", but, if you look closely, you can see Virga's little fists, ready to get me. That is, until she realizes it's Kiefer and meal worm time. Then, we are good friends!  -M-

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Milestones - 6 &1

By some coincidence we acquired all four of our sugar gliders about the 14th of the month. We picked up Foehn and CB on October 14, and Virga and Cirrus on March 15.  So, as of today Foehn and CB have been with us for six months, and Virga and Cirrus one month. Both pairs of gliders have made tremendous strides in their time here.

Virga and Cirrus - "the ladies" - are really starting to warm up to us. The last two mornings they have both come to the front of the cage when I came in to give Foehn and CB their yogurt treat, and now Virga and Cirrus are getting some too. I hope they keep doing that as it certainly helped establish trust with Foehn & CB. The ladies enjoy their tent time at and have no qualms about climbing on me. Cirrus, however, is still a little nervous with hands so I move slower with her. Tonight she was running up to my arm periodically and giving it a very light nip. I don't think it was grooming, but more like just feeling things out. They will let us pet them, but they aren't to the point where they will hold still very long for it.  CB & Foehn, on the other hand, will now just sit and let us pet them, and both (CB especially) like to have their bellies rubbed. CB also has slept in my hand several times now. In the morning when they get their yogurt treat they will both climb out of the cage onto my lap to lick my finger. They are mostly content to stay there until they are done and jump back into the cage to turn in for the day. Foehn occasionally will decide to explore for a bit, but it usually doesn't last long at that time because she is tired and ready to sleep.

For the last two weeks we have had their cages moved close to each other, about a foot or so apart, so they can start to get used to each other. Yesterday M started the process of switching pouch blankets so that they become familiar with each others smell. Of all four, Foehn seems to have a little problem adjusting. Right now she is curled up in a fleece blanket on the floor of her age while CB snoozes in the pouch. Virga and Cirrus don't seemed to be bothered, either. After a period of time of blanket switching we will switch the actual pouches. If that goes well, then the next step will be to see how all four do together in neutral territory.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No News Is Good News

There hasn't been much to report since moving the ladies' cage into the room with CB and Foehn. What would be ideal is some way to monitor the audio at night to see if they are "chatting" with each other. Typically, when I come in to the my office around 6:15 a.m. Foehn and CB are still up and waiting for their treat, and Cirrus and Virga are asleep. Yesterday I woke up to hear some barking going on, and it was either Foehn or CB. We wondered if they weren't "calling" for me to come and give them their morning licks of yogurt. We've heard that gliders do bark to get their owner's attention. Trouble is, if they are doing it earlier before I really wake up, we don't heard them.

Cirrus and Virga are settling in well. There is less and less crabbing from Cirrus (not much from Virga to begin with).  They enjoy their time in the tent, which frankly hasn't been a lot yet, but we are going to start increasing it. I'm looking forward to the time when all four can be in the tent at once - but that could get a little crazy! Virga and Cirrus have no qualms about jumping on my head, but sometimes miscalculate. The result is called a "face hug" in glider owner parlance. CB and Foehn are pretty good about landing on my shoulders or back.

Sunday is usually "weigh-in" day for the crew. That involves coaxing them out of their pouch one at a time, letting them do their thing, and then getting them into a bonding pouch for weighing. A weekly check of their weight is a good way to monitor their general health. There are minor fluctuations up and down from week to week, but you can see general trends. A sign of a problem would be a drastic loss of weight.  CB and Foehn have gained about 7 to 8 grams in the 6 months since we've had them.  Cirrus and Virga are eating well and it seems Cirrus is filling out a bit, although her weight is still around 60 grams. They have now switched over to the same diet as Foehn and CB and seem to like it. They are a little pickier about the fruits and vegetables they like, but we got good info on their likes and dislikes from their previous owner.