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.