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.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cool Times in the Tent

The last few days we have been able to get all four gliders some tent time, though not at the same time. Virga and Cirrus seem to be a little more active in the afternoon and I have had them in the tent during that time, occasionally in the evening. CB and Foehn get their time at night. In addition to the artificial tree we have include some "vines" and other things they can climb on. Virga and Cirrus enjoy exploring the tree, as opposed to CB and Foehn who mainly use it as a jumping off point to the side of the tent.  All four of them love the time to run around and climb, including climbing on me.

CB sound asleep in my handCB and Foehn have changed their routine a little a night, and it seems to take them longer to get going. One Foehn is out she will spend a good 20 minutes grooming herself interspersed with occasional short explorations around the tent. CB, well, he needs a nap to recover from the effort of waking up. Once into the tent, he will groom with his sister for a bit, and then climb up into my shirt (using the space between the buttons) for a nap. He curls up in the same place every time, on my right side just above above my belt. I usually let him sleep about 20 minutes or so and then scoop him out. He will try and get back into my shirt a couple of times, but then resigns himself to the fact I'm not going to let him back in. When I scoop him out he will stay in my hands for a minute or two and then scamper out. Tonight, however, was something new and frankly something I really didn't think would happen anytime in the near future. When I took CB out of my shirt, he stayed in my hand curled up and went back to sleep. It was really pretty neat. He finally did jump out when Foehn startled him when she jumped to the floor of the tent.