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


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.