Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Attempt at Introductions

For the last two weeks Rossby and Sprite have been living side by side with CB, Foehn, and Cirrus, but separate, in the large cage. In addition, we have been switching sides every night so that they have to live in each others "stuff". This has gone very well and none of them have had any problems sleeping in a pouch previously occupied by the others. Nights have been fairly quiet as well.

So we decided to try introductions again today. This time we introduced Sprite to Foehn, since they seemed to have the most problems last time. Into the bathtub they went. Sprite was very nervous at the start, and Foehn was nonchalant for the most part. Sprite crabbed a little as Foehn approached her, but I had my hand over her with a piece of fleece to keep her calm. For the most part they were OK with everything, but Sprite was looking for any way to get out of that tub, climbing on my arm every chance she could get. I removed all the fleece (save for one piece in case I had top break up anything) and left one pouch for them. Foehn crawled in readily - she wanted to sleep - but Sprite was hesitant. She poked her head in a few times, but would not go in. There were no fights or crabbing - she jsut did not want to get too close to Foehn.

I figured I'd wait her out. She would get tired soon enough and want to sleep, and that pouch was the only comfortable place for her. An hour later she was still running around the bathroom, having a great time climbing and jumping. At that point we figured we would bring Rossby into the picture. Perhaps Sprite would go into the pouch if he was there. I fetched Rossby from his nice warm pouch in the cage and brought him in. He readily crawled into the pouch with Foehn. Now Sprite was thinking a little more about going in. Although she briefly ventured in and then quickly out she still had no interest in settling in.

The tip of Sprite's tail is the only thing outside the pouch after
she decided to join Rossby and Foehn.
It took about 45 minutes before Sprite was visibly wearing out. She wanted to rest, and the only place was that pouch. She stood at the opening and sniffed around. Rossby poked his head out as if to reassure her, and to my surprise she crawled in and stayed. There was a little crabbing on her part, but nothing serious. It helped that Rossby was between her and Foehn. By the time I gave them mealworms a few minutes ago, they were all squished together in one corner of the pouch. We kept them in the pouch with us until I put them in the cage after mealworms.The three of them will be together in one side of the cage tonight and we'll see how it goes. If this looks like it's working, the next step will be to bring Cirrus and CB into the mix.  We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cruising Along

It has been a nice relaxing week with the gliders since we subdivided the big cage. Several days ago we started switching sides of the cage each night without switching anything between the sides. That means they have to sleep in each other's pouches and live in their "territory". The nights have been quiet and living in close proximity hasn't seemed to bother them. We will probably have another try at introducing them soon, possibly this weekend. Sprite has seems less skittish in playtime, and perhaps living right next to the trio has lessened her apprehension.

We also have Case and Ghost this week. Ghost had a followup appointment with the vet for his neuter and M took him in for that this morning. He's doing fine in that department.  He and Case are best buddies now, although sometimes Case seems a little overprotective and Ghost takes exception an there is some "tsking".

Case and Ghost playing on the "tree" in the office.
So, evenings have been a little busy since we take each pair/trio in to play for awhile in the office. Case and Ghost run around with each other like Rossby and Sprite and it's fun watching the pairs play together. CB, Foehn, and Cirrus aren't as interactive, but they have fun with each other too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Unexpected Setback

On Sunday morning we found CB, Foehn, and Rossby sleeping in the large Christmas tree pouch, and Sprite by herself in one of the other pouches. In and of itself this was not that unusual, but it was not something we hoped for. We figured that after another night or two they would get their differences worked out. Overnight Sunday/Monday turned out to be not much different. We were monitoring them during the night using a baby monitor and we could hear that there were still periodic problems. On Monday morning they were still in the "four and one" sleeping arrangement. We felt bad for Sprite because she and Rossby are close, and we knew she missed being with him.

On Monday night we had all five in the office for play time and things started to get a little ugly. Foehn started chasing Sprite and then they would ball up. After separating Sprite would run off to a corner away from the others, but Foehn persisted on chasing her. A ball-up on a encounter is one thing, but for Foehn to be actually chasing Sprite was something we have never seen. After three noisy and scary encounters (and Foehn clamping down on my finger), we decided to take Foehn out of the room. We put here in our small cage and figured she could chill there for the night. She had been in heat and we thought that might have be part of the reason she was behaving this way. However, before we ended play time CB started chasing Sprite, although it didn't seem to be as aggressive as Foehn. After play time ended I placed the four of them in the cage together and things seemed to be OK.

Sometime around 12:30 a.m. a loud commotion coming in over the baby monitor woke me up. I went to check out situation and at first nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. After watching for a short time CB came up to Sprite and they crabbed at each other, She took off and he followed.  She jumped into one of the wheels to run and soon CB jumped in as well. They tussled briefly and she bolted out of the wheel. She was leaping across the cage to get away from him and I was concerned she would hurt herself. It was clear we could not leave her in there for the night. I gathered her up in a pouch and placed Foehn in another pouch. I returned Foehn to the main cage, and placed Sprite in the small cage.  It was quiet the rest of the night.

The next morning we decided to move Rossby into the small cage with Sprite - she seemed lost without him. As soon as we did it was clear that it was the right thing to do. They briefly nuzzled each other, and then Sprite climbed on Rossby's back. She hung on to him even as he tried to move around the cage. It was almost heartbreaking. They both climbed into the sleeping pouch and settled in for the day.

Here you can see the divider in the cage.
The Christmas tree pouch is on the trio's side.
CB can be seen on the lower partof the divider.
We would not separate Sprite from Rossby after this, so we needed to come up with an alternate living arrangement until and if they can be reintroduced to the trio. They had been using the new "vacation" cage, but we wanted them to be close but separated and the floor arrangement wouldn't allow that. So, last night I converted the largecage into two "townhomes". I installed a divider down the middle of the cage using plastic hardware cloth (sometimes called landware). That allowed them close proximity but keeps them separate. Their first night in their respective new homes was a quiet one.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not Quite There Yet

There were squabbles on and off all last night, but apparently nothing serious. I woke up this morning and heard one right off the bat (we had a baby monitor connected so we could monitor them). By the time I got out there only Sprite and Cirrus were still up. Cirrus was in one of the wheels, and Sprite was running around the cage. Cirrus soon turned in but Sprite kept running across the top, down the side, across the bottom and back up to the top over and over again. It reminded me of when Foehn used to do something similar when she was a little stressed. When they all finally settled down, it was four in the big Christmas Tree pouch, and Sprite by herself in a hanging honeycomb pouch. I was really hoping they would all be together.

Tonight we had all of them in the office for play time, and for the most part it was OK.  There were a few squabbles but they were minor. One of the reasons intros might be a little difficult is that Foehn is in heat and that might be causing some of the tension.

On a more upbeat note, today our son's new glider Ghost was introduced to his other glider Case her at our house, and it went without a hitch. Within a few minutes they were enthusiastically grooming each other and a little after that they were both snuggled together in the sleeping pouch sound asleep.

A Very Long Afternoon

Today is the day we decided to try introducing Rossby and Sprite to CB, Foehn, and Cirrus. Before introductions started and in hopes they were successful, I thoroughly cleaned the large cage and M added lots of stuff for them to play on, along with several pouches.

Shortly before noon we brought CB and Rossby into the bathroom to start the introduction process. M didn't stay in the room because she doesn't like it when they start to go after one another. I placed them in the bathtub (neutral territory) and let them explore. CB was pretty relaxed, and Rossby was pretty nervous. They sniffed and crabbed at each other, but mostly just kept a wary eye.  After about 10 to 15 minutes, they were tolerating each other pretty well. The next trick was to get them to join each other in a clean pouch. CB readily scrambled into the pouch and settled in, but Rossby was having too much fun. He managed to find his "jump" during this time. Up until now he has been hesitant to jump anything more than small distances. However, he had great fun jumping from me to the sink, then to the floor, then climbing up the shower curtain, and doing it all over again. A couple of times he tried jumping from the shower rod to the ceiling light which is flat against the ceiling. There was nothing for him to grab and he fell to the floor. Fortunately I was sitting below the light and was able to cushion his fall. He did get his chimes rung a time or two when he tried to jump to a wall and found nothing to grab.  I figured he would soon tire and then climb into the pouch, but it was two hours before I walked out of the bathroom with both of them in the pouch!

After about a half hour we brought Foehn in for the next round. I set the pouch with CB and Rossby in the tub and then Foehn on the opposite side. CB and Rossby looked out of the pouch, Foehn cautiously approached. She sniffed a few times and then crawled right in to join the boys!  I was amazed it went without any consternation.

The last round of introductions was a little more difficult. We saved Sprite for last since she seems to be a little more scared and defensive at times. Surprisingly, Cirrus had a little difficulty with Rossby and even CB, She and Rossby got into it and when I went to intervene she locked on to my finger with her teeth and wouldn't let go. She was upset! Eventually, though, she and Rossby were OK. Poor Sprite had a tough time of it. She crabbed at everyone, and was very wary of anyone checking her out. Both Foehn and Cirrus did and both heard from her. Like Rossby, Sprite was not interested in going into the pouch with the rest of them and spent an hour or more jumping and climbing around the bathroom before she finally started to tire. She kept trying to settle down in my pant leg, but we couldn't allow that. I finally placed her in the top of the pouch and things seemed OK.

There was some crabbing back in forth in the pouch after awhile, so we decided we would put them in the cage and let them work things out. There were some tussles, but after a short period of time they settled in. CB, Rossby, Foehn and Cirrus were in one large pouch, and Sprite settled down in another.

They are awake now, and there have been periodic "outbursts" of complaining for the last hour, but I can't readily tell who is involved (although Sprite is certainly one of them). Hopefully they will be able to work things out overnight. It would be really nice to find all five of them sleeping together in the morning.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A House Full of Gliders

This has been a busy week for us as far as the gliders are concerned. We have an extra cage this week, as we are caring for Ghost. He had his neuter this morning, and since our son works days we took Ghost in to the vet this morning for the procedure.

So, trying to give attention to three cages of gliders is a challenge. Around 9:00 p.m. we bring CB, Foehn, and Cirrus into the office for their mealworms and playtime. After their mealworms and a brief time or two around the office they have been settling in to M's sweatshirt, leaving me twiddling my thumbs until M goes to get their dinner in the cage. At that point I scoop them out of her sweatshirt. The neat thing about that is all three comfortably climb on to my hand and arm to come out, instead of trying to get away or hide. They have a little time to play, and when M has the food in the cage we call it a night and take them back.

At that point I go set up the tent in our bedroom in order to spend some time with Rossby and Sprite. They have been sleeping a little later so are usually still in the pouch  when it's time to bring them in. They enjoy the time in the tent, especially the wheel. We start out with a few mealworms, but Rossby is not as enthusiastic about them as Sprite or the trio. The tent has been a good thing for them. They are getting into a routine, even to the point that they will climb into the pouch when I offer it to them when it's time to wind things down. They, too, now realize that dinner is waiting.

And yes, Ghost gets attention as well, He is a very sociable glider and loves to have the attention. Mornings have been a little hectic this week. I have been giving them their yogurt because M has had early appointments this week (including taking Ghost in this morning). Ghost is always waiting and I give him his first. Cirrus usually waits up for us to come out, so I next take care of the trio. In the meantime Sprite and Rossby are peering out of the pouch in their cage while waiting for us to finish up with the trio. When it's their turn, they come right to the cage door and go for the small dish with the yogurt. They don't usually waste time licking it off of a finger. They both perch on the edge of the dish and lick it up from there, happily chirping the whole time! Once they have licked the dish clean, they climb into their pouch and go to sleep. It's really nice to have them in a routine

Next up is introductions, and that may happen this weekend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Youngsters Making Progress

I just realized that it has been two weeks since I posted, and while things have been relatively quiet there are a few things to write about.

On November 16 Rossby and Sprite had their baseline wellness check-ups with Dr. W, and they are doing just fine. They actually behaved very well, although Sprite did protest a bit. She still crabs at times if you bother her while she is in the pouch, but usually she quiets down when a) she sees that you are offering her food or a treat or b) she sees who we are.  We also had our son's new glider Ghost with us at the vet for his checkup.  We initially spoke with a fourth year student who then went to get Dr. W.  A few minutes later the door opened and a couple of students walked in, and then a couple of more, and eventually a total of ten of us in the room! It was rather funny in a way - it seemed like a scene from a comedy!

Ghost was a big hit, being a baby and a white mosaic at that. Ghost passed his exam with flying colors, and he is now scheduled for his neuter next week. We'll be taking him for that and caring for him through his brief recovery.

I have been taking both Rossby and Sprite into a tent a night for an hour or so to play. Sprite, still the crabby one at times, will sometimes crawl under the sheet we have laid down in there, and if I try to pet her through the sheet or otherwise disturb her while she is under it she will crab and complain. Rossby spends a lot of his time on the wheel,and occasionally Sprite will join him.  What is interesting is that they neither of the jump on to the wheel. The both climb up the stand, and then on to the wheel.  The trio always jumps on to the wheel from the front. Rossby, in particular, seems hesitant to make any big jumps.  Maybe it's his young age and experience, maybe some other reason. Rossby and Sprint don't have a wheel in their cage, but they do have a glider treadmill they like to run on.

We have already started switching out blankets in the pouches for each set of gliders as the first stage of introductions.  They are starting to get used to each others smell, but there is still a lot of marking going on.  After a period of switching blankets, we'll switch pouches between the cages and see how they react.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A "Thumbs Up" for Cirrus (and Other News)

Cirrus on M's lap just after her meal worm snack today.
Yesterday was Cirrus' follow-up visit to the vet for her eye infection and a post-surgical check for the March surgery, and we got great news. The eye issue was cleared up (which we knew) and there are no signs of any recurrence of the cancer that she had surgery for in March.  Even though she appeared to be in good shape to us, you never know and we had a little part of us holding our breath. Dr. W said that Cirrus is in great condition. Cirrus was very good during the exam as Dr. W. was explaining glider anatomy and behavior to the fourth-year vet student was was working with her that day.  Cirrus' next follow-up appointment is in six months.

While we were at the clinic we made appointments for a wellness and baseline checks for Rossby and Sprite, and for our son's new glider, Ghost. This will be a little more of a challenge with Rossby and Sprite. They will stay on us and aren't afraid of us, but they are not crazy about being held. On the other hand, Sunday was "spa day" and we needed to clip their nails. I was expecting a wrestling match and bites to get this done (I hold them while M trims the nails), but they both were very good about it, almost better than the others.  However, being examined is a little different. We'll be back at the vet on Friday for them.

Ghost at one month old.
Then there is Ghost, our son's new glider. He is just a little over two months old. We are taking him in for our son because his work schedule won't allow him to do it. Ghost is a white mosaic glider, with black eyes, a white coat, and faint gray splotches and a faint gray dorsal stripe. We went to pick him up last weekend. He's a little guy at this point, only 55 grams. He still needs to be neutered, but he will need to be between 65 and 70 grams before that happens.  From what we hear, at the rate he's eating he'll be in that range before too long.  If everything works out he and Case (formerly Molly) will be cage mates eventually.

Ghost sleeping on the way home last weekend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Bundles of Energy

Sprite and Rossby have a ton of energy, but I guess that should be expected of youngsters. In some ways their personalities parallel those of Foehn and CB. Sprite is the one who will crab in the pouch at times and who has no problem taking a nip at you. She is curious like Cirrus, and if a head pops out of their pouch to check things out it is almost always her.  Rossby does not really care that much about what is going on around him, and seems to sleep through most of the things that get Sprite up and looking around.

They are both skittish, Sprite more than Rossby. They will climb on to us and won't leave, but it has to be on their terms. We are learning that bribes help a lot. I am working on trying to train them to come to the pouch using mealworms.  It's early yet, so I'm not seeing a lot of progress. Rossby is somewhat easy to coax. Sprite is very wary, but the prospect of a mealworm seems to overcome her fear at least for the short term. Last night Sprite managed to get away from me outside of the cage, but she didn't seem as intent on exploring as CB was when he found freedom. I was able to "coax" her into the pouch pretty quickly.

M has been giving them yogurt in the morning and kiefer in the afternoon after CB, Foehn, and Cirrus have theirs. We were told they like their food, and they are proving that each night as most everything we give them is gone in the morning.

M took this photo of Sprite and Rossby at kiefer time this afternoon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The New Additions

No, it's not the name of the latest boy band. We have added two gliders to our glider family. They were offered to us shortly after Virga passed away in September, coincidentally as we were discussing whether or not we would get any more gliders   After taking some time to consider the kind offer, we decided to go ahead.

They are a brother and sister and are five months old. They are known as "lions" because of their color. It is a variation of the standard grey color, and at first glance you don't notice the difference. Their heads are lighter and the have a little more white around their ears. Once they have matured their coats should have more of a honey hue to them.

We went to pick Rossby (the brother) and Sprite (the sister) today and met the breeder in Indianapolis.  We were warned that they both are curious and can be rambunctious. Most of the way home they squirmed in their pouch, eventually settling down once we were driving for awhile. Once we got home we brought them into the office to have a mealworm snack and to give them some time to stretch their legs. We then put them in the new "vacation" cage which M had furnished with an autumn theme. That will be their home until we can introduce them to CB, Foehn, and Cirrus.

It had been a long day of travel for them and we thought they would settle in to sleep. However,Rossby and Sprite spent several hours out and about the cage this afternoon in a constant state of exploration, although Rossby did take a nap or two. Midway though the afternoon I gave them some kefir, after M had taken care of the other three. Even though they were still a little wary they eagerly licked the kefir off of my finger.

Rossby having his licks of kefir off of my finger, holding on
to be sure he gets it all! His sister Sprite can be seen at the rear
of the cage.

It was close to 5:00 p.m. before they found a place they wanted to sleep. Sprite still pops her head out of the pouch periodically to check on what's going on, but for the most part they have been sleeping since that time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Back Home and Loving It

The smaller cage we purchased was put to good use this last week. We spent the week in northern California visiting our daughter, and CB, Foehn, and Cirrus spent the week with a sitter, and the cage was their "vacation" home. This was the first time we have ever left them with someone since they arrived three years ago. We have taken them with us on vacation a couple of times, but that couldn't happen this time. One, they aren't allowed on planes, and most importantly they are illegal in California. We had asked our vet if she knew of anyone who would be interested in caring for them and she gave us the name of one of the vet students.

After talking to the sitter on the phone we met her at our last appointment for Cirrus. We both felt good about leaving the gliders in her care. So, with just a little bit of apprehension, we brought the gliders, their cage, and all the necessary glider stuff to the sitter last Monday night. After making sure they were settled and all questions were answered, we said our goodbyes and left on our trip to California.

We received an email on Tuesday after we arrived at our daughter's letting us know that our gang was doing fine and had eaten well. We were concerned they would be stressed from being in a new place with strange smells and strange sounds (there were two dogs in the house - totally separated from the gliders).  Knowing that they were eating meant that they were settling in OK and that we probably didn't have anything to worry about. We didn't.

The sitter kept them on their routine as much as possible. They poked their heads out of the pouch each night to get their mealworms, and she offered them yogurt in the morning. Overnight they ate almost all of their blended mix, most of their vegetables, and picked at the fruit - just like normal.

We got back too late last night to pick them up, so we brought them home tonight. All three were working to get out of the zippered pouch on the way home. Once home we let them out in the office and they spent the next two and a half hours running and climbing, jumping on and off of us, and generally enjoying their time out of the cage. When I returned them to their cage a few minutes ago they spent a couple of moments checking things out, and then promptly went to take a nap. They were three tired but happy gliders.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Downsizing - Temporarily

This weekend CB, Foehn, and Cirrus are in temporary quarters. We moved them to a new cage for a few days to get them used to it.  We will be using this cage for when we have someone take care of them while we are gone. It measures 30 in wide by 18 inches deep by 48 inches high, large enough for them to climb around in but small enough to easily move it. It's less than half the size of their home cage, but bigger than the cage that came with Virga and Cirrus.  It is big enough to install a wheel and some other toys and gives them room to climb. The cage did not come with legs, so I built a stand for it to sit on so the would not be at floor level where it tends to be colder.  Their first night trying it out was Friday, and they spent the first 20 minutes thoroughly checking it out (and marking it) before they settled down for a nap.

The new, smaller cage used for their "vacation home".
You can see their regular cage just behind it.


In the meantime, they are very active tonight and have been going full tilt for the last half hour. All three of them have been running (or trying to) on the wheel. The wheel in the office is not as wide as the one on their cage, and it's a tight fit for three gliders!  Once they slow down a bit I'll gather them up and take them to their dinner.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back to the Vet

At last weekend's weigh-in both Foehn and Cirrus had dropped four grams. They had not been eating consistently - some nights everything was eaten, and on others they picked at their food. In addition, when we woke them up to weigh them Cirrus' right eye wasn't open, and it took a few minutes before it did. This had happened a time or two before, but in light of her weight loss and prior medical history, we figured a visit to the vet was in order just to be sure she was OK. So, on Thursday we brought them all in and had Cirrus checked out. Overall she was doing well, and gained back two grams. However, Dr. W. found "debris" in her eye. They did a further exam to check for any scratches on the eye for which they had to put drops in her eye. Cirrus was pretty good about it, considering they had to do this three times. She fortunately didn't have any scratches on her eye, but as a precaution Dr. W. prescribed antibiotic drops. We have to put the drops in her eye three times a day. It really takes two of us, one to hold her (and her head) and the other to hold her eye open, if necessary, and put the drops in each eye. Cirrus is very good about it, so much so that I was able to do the morning drops by myself. M said today that she thinks Cirrus' eyes look clearer, so the drops seem to be doing the trick.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Strange Night

The night was going normally until about 7:00 p.m. At that point we were surprised to hear the wheels in the cage going and checked to see what was going on. CB and Foehn were each running in a separate wheel and Cirrus was out climbing in the cage. This was very unusual. Neither of us could remember a time when all of them where out this early. Cirrus seemed to be walking oddly, so we took her out of the cage to check her. Once she was in the office, she seemed to be getting around normally. Back in the cage, CB and Foehn seemed reluctant to go back in their pouch, Foehn in particular seemed to be rather stressed out about something. CB found his way into a different pouch, but Foehn kept "pacing" on the top of the cage.  I brought CB into the office where M had Cirrus. I could not coax Foehn into a pouch, but eventually was able to pick her up and get her into a pouch. Once in the office, she spent much of the time running in the wheel, while CB found his way into the plush boat to settle down to sleep.  Foehn eventually crawled into a pouch I offered her and seemed to be calmer. She let me pet her and was quiet until mealworm time.

We checked their sleeping pouch and cage to make sure there was nothing there that could bother them. Everything there was OK.

At this point, Cirrus is asleep in the pouch on my lap, and CB and Foehn are sleeping in the boat. In a few minutes I'll be putting them back in their cage and will probably stay up a while to see what happens. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Future Extended Family

Our son, whose sugar glider got us interested in these little animals three years ago, will finally be getting a companion for his glider.  If you have followed this blog you have read about Molly, his glider. Well, back a couple of months ago when we were closely watching all of our gliders because of what Virga and Cirrus were going through, M made a discovery one day. She checks the condition of our gliders every morning after yogurt and before they go back into the cage. We were taking care of Molly that weekend and M checked her as well. During the check she discovered that Molly was in fact a "he"!  We gave our son the news when he came to pick her up.  Molly's name is now Case. (Both are characters in the novel Neuromancer.)

We participated in another glider railroad two weeks ago and in the process met one of the breeders we were familiar with through Glider Central. While at her house we got to see all of her gliders, and she had a white mosaic glider that was out of pouch at the end of August. Our son had been hoping to get a white glider at some point, and this one seemed perfect for him. So once he is weaned in another six weeks or so and has been neutered, Ghost will be joining Case. 

Ghost, a white mosaic glider, at about 3 weeks out of pouch.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Life Goes On

This past week we have been closely watching Cirrus, CB, and Foehn to see how they were going to react to Virga being gone. On Monday night and Tuesday Cirrus, in particular, seemed to be out of sorts and trying to find her sister. All three of them were not eating much. Normally they each get some Blended Mix (their staple diet), and fruits and vegetables.  They almost always finish all of their Blended Mix, and usually their fruits and vegetables as well, depending on what they like at the time. This week, two out of three dishes of Blended were hardly touched, and they were only picking at their other food. On Wednesday we left with them on an overnight trip as part of another glider railroad (the subject of a future post). Since we returned on Thursday, their appetites have returned. Maybe this "mini vacation" was good for them. Each of them lost a couple of grams this week, which is not surprising considering their appetites and the stress from Virga being gone. The other day Foehn and Cirrus seemed to be at each other a bit, but at this point everything seems to be almost back to normal. We don't know if it was Foehn trying to assert her dominance or just a case of her annoying Cirrus.  All of them have been playing together. There was a little pouch switching this week, which happens from time to time. One one occasion Foehn was by herself and Cirrus and CB were together. Yesterday CB was by himself and the girls were together. However, this was after they had been going back and forth between pouches after morning yogurt.  I think CB was tired, went to sleep, and figured if the girls wanted to play musical pouches, fine - but he was going to sleep right where he was!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Glide Free, Virga

Virga
Yesterday was our usual weekly weigh-in for our gliders. When it was Virga's turn I placed her into the pouch we use for weighing and headed for the scale. She had been slowing down the last week and was continuing to decline. Virga looked at me from the pouch with her big eyes, and it was clear it was time for her to be free. Weighing her only confirmed it for me - she had lost 6 grams in the past five days. Last night the tremors she has experienced on awakening lasted off and on through most of play time. She spent most of the time in my hand where I rubbed her tummy, which seemed to relax her and ease the tremors. I told M that I agreed that it was time to make the call and let Virga go.

I got up this morning to give them all their morning licks of yogurt, Virga included. I made the call to the clinic and left a message. Shortly after 8:30 I received a call back - we had a 10:00 a.m. appointment.

Cirrus, Foehn, and CB accompanied Virga to the clinic with us. Dr. W came out soon after and let us know there would be a bit of a delay.  When it was time Dr. W came out to get us and brought us to the examining room.  There was a blue fleece blanket on the steel examining table - that was surprisingly somewhat comforting.  Dr. W explained to us what would occur, and Virga was put under anesthesia.  M helped by keeping the anesthesia cone over Virga's face while she was injected with the euthanizing drug, and I kept the other gliders calm (I am not good with needles). We had elected to go with a catheter into her knee bone, but the small needle would not allow the relatively thick fluid to get into her system. So, it was directly injected into her heart. When Virga had passed we placed her in the pouch with Cirrus, Foehn, and CB so they could say their goodbyes.  We were both able to hold her and say our goodbyes.  There were tears in everybody's eyes: ours, Dr. W. the vet tech, and the student helping out. Dr. W. said she would make a clay paw print for us.

Virga was nine and a half years old, but only with us for the last two and a half years (she and her sister were re-homed with us). She quickly won our hearts. We'll miss Virga being the first one up and out at night, her climbing on our arms for the ride to the play room (office), her enthusiasm for mealworms, her long runs on the wheel, and her gentle nature. We are happy she came into our lives, and know she had a happy life with Cirrus, Foehn, and CB. She had grown to be my favorite, and I think M's too.

A necropsy is being done, and we should have the results in a few weeks. What they learn from Virga and Cirrus will eventually be published in the exotic animal veterinary journal so perhaps other gliders can be helped. As Dr. W. was briefly examining Virga she found new tumors, one of which appeared to be in her lymph nodes.

We can't say enough about the staff at the University of Illinois Vet Med Exotics Dept. for their efforts and care the last six months. Everyone from the receptionist who checked us in today (she knew why we were there and quietly offered to escort us back early), to Dr. W., Kim, and the vet med students we met were caring, compassionate, and professional.  We feel very fortunate to have access to the level of care and caring our gliders have received.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Virga

Virga and Cirrus had another follow-up appointment today with our vet. The last week or so Virga has seemed to be slowing down, and after a period where the tremors had lessened, they returned with more frequency.  She also has been overgrooming her abdomen to the point where she has little fur.  Virga still has been spending time on the wheel, but doesn't run as long and quite as hard. It's been two months since the cancer returned and in the back of my mind I knew that she wasn't feeling well, but I've tried to be optimistic. So, it was hard to hear that her body is in decline and the tumors had grown. Although her weight has been stable, she has lost muscle and fat to the growth of the tumors. The vet says she probably is having a little trouble breathing as well. She is on a medication to reduce inflammation and any pain or discomfort.

We don't want her to suffer or to progress to the point where she is unable to function, and she is not at that stage yet.  I was not ready to say goodbye today, and I don't think she was either.  Our hearts are with Cirrus as well, because they are so bonded and Cirrus will have a tough time without her sister.  Cirrus, by the way, came though the exam with flying colors, so there was some good news today.  However, that only slightly tempered the fact that sometime soon we are going to have to make a difficult decision and make our last trip to the vet with Virga.

This is a photo of Cirrus and Virga after their exam, asleep
in their pouch. Virga is on the bottom, and Cirrus is laying
on top of her with her arm on Virga's head

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Glider Sitting

As I write this Molly, our son's glider, is climbing across my shoulders enjoying some free time in the office.  He is away this week and we are taking care of her. So, this last few days has required two playtime shifts each night.  Our four are first, and when they slow down or at 10:50 p.m. (whichever comes first) I take them to their cage, clean up the office, and then bring Molly in for her mealworms. Now, all four of our gliders scarf down mealworms like a kid eating McDonald's french fries. The even lick their fingers clean when they are done eating!  Molly, on the other hand, leaves little bits and pieces that for some reason she doesn't like. A little messy, but she loves her mealworms as much as our four.

She is having a great time tonight, climbing and jumping nonstop. She doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that other gliders were in the room at one point.

Molly just before she jumped off the tree to me. I had been trying to get a photo
for more than 20 minutes but she never stayed in one place long enough!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So Far So Good

It's been a month since we received the disappointing diagnosis for Virga. We haven't yet received the results of the CT scan yet, and I'll need to follow up on that. However, both Virga and Cirrus are doing very well. Virga still has the tremors on awakening, but they vary. Some nights she has them for a few minutes, and some nights hardly at all. Other than that, she is pretty much her normal self. She and Cirrus are on the window screen tonight having fun chasing after moths and other bugs. In fact, they have been on the window so much that I just I realized she hasn't run on her wheel tonight, and that's something she rarely misses.

We're continuing to watch them closely for any signs of a decline, but so far, so good. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back at the Vet

We were back to visit our vet today, but this was a routine visit.  It was time for the annual wellness check for CB and Foehn.  Dr. W came into the room with an entourage today - the vetmed student who initially greeted us and took history info, a new resident, and a visiting resident from Japan. In addition to our four gliders we had our grandson with us as well, so it was quite a crowd.

CB, our laid back glider, "Mr. Chill", pitched a fit today during the exam.  He did not want anything to do with Dr. W or the exam. When she placed him in a container to weigh him he was crabbing as loud as he could. He even managed to push aside the weighted lid of the container and escape briefly before Dr. W gathered him up in the towel. He was fine once the exam was complete and he could go back in the pouch with the others.  His reaction was uncharacteristic for him, and he's been examined several times before and never reacted like this. Foehn did just fine during her exam. She crabbed a bit, which is to be expected, but was pretty settled down for her.

We did discuss Virga and Cirrus a bit. According to the oncologist there is apparently no "good" chemotherapy to treat them without making them miserable and lower their quality of life. The evaluation of the CT scan by the radiologist wasn't available yet, so we don't quite know all we are dealing with yet.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The CT Scan

Virga and Cirrus had their CT scans on Thursday. The procedure went well. It was done under anesthesia, and the radiologist had to inject them with a contrasting dye to get the images, which had some risks.

The results were heartbreaking, though. Virga has metastatic cancer that has spread to her lungs. They don't think the spots on her liver are anything and that was a bit of good news. Our vet said that she may only have another month or two (three at the outside) before she starts to rapidly deteriorate. The vet had tears in her eyes and gave M a hug when she told her the news. I was at work for a bit and just missed getting back to the hospital when M was called back. There were also a couple of small spots on Cirrus' scan that are suspicious on first look, and the radiologist will further analyze the scan to see what is going on. Our vet is going to talk to their veterinary oncologist and see if there is an oral, inexpensive, and somewhat effective chemo med that we can treat Virga and Cirrus with. It won't cure them, but it it may slow things down and give Virga few more months. If Cirrus is in the very early stages, she's hoping that with treatment it has a chance to go into remission.She was careful to inform us that chemo for animals is more for quality of life, and if the cancer goes into remission it's a bonus. We'll get a report and a copy of the CT images this week.

We honestly weren't expecting to hear that everything was good, but to hear Virga might not have much time left hit us hard.


To top it all off, Virga has had some sort of tremors when she first wakes up. The odd thing about them is that they cease as soon as she is up and around. We informed our vet about it and she will be checking with their new neurologist.  I've been trying to get video of it to show them, but it seemed every time I turned on the camera she would stop! I was finally able to get about 30 seconds the night before last and will be sharing that with them on Tuesday. That's when we'll be back at the vet for the regular wellness checks for CB and Foehn.


Right now Virga seems to be herself, perhaps moving a bit slower. She is still one of the first out at night, loves her mealworms, and is spending a lot of time on her wheel during "office" time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Update on Virga

The call we were waiting for on Monday from our vet didn't come until Tuesday morning, and it wasn't good news.  Virga has another mammary tumor.  They are not sure what the spots on her lungs and liver are and would like to do a CT scan. This would be expensive ($600-$700) and it's possible we would not gain much new information.  There was some good news to come, though. Since our vet, the surgeon, and the radiologist are so interested in Virga's case, the CT scan will be paid for by a research grant. Cirrus will also be imaged  as a "control" subject, which will further add to any information they can obtain. M asked the vet how Virga could have gotten another mammary tumor since the surgery in March was supposed to remove all mammary tissue. She said that based on all the information available to them, they were sure they had removed it all. However, it could be that gliders have mammary tissue similar to rodents, that is, it extends to their back. The one thing that worries us is that they may need to inject a contrast dye through a catheter to improve the imaging. They are so small that this may be difficult to do.

So, the CT scan is scheduled for July 19.  We're hoping the CT scan will help determine the best course of action. Our vet really does not want to put Virga through another surgery. I guess we'll evaluate all the options after we know where things stand. In the meantime Virga is doing well, eating normally and is pretty active, all things considered.

Monday, July 9, 2012

We've Been Working on a Railroad...

This weekend M and I helped "railroad" a glider from a breeder in Missouri to her new owner in New York. The east and west portions of the railroad were in place, but the middle section was up in the air. M and I decided to help out, in part because the glider community has been so supportive with our issues with Virga and Cirrus. So, we were the middle link in the railroad. On Friday we hit the road for Collinsville, IL (east of St. Louis, where we were to meet the breeder and pick up the glider. When we pulled into Collinsville at about 5:00 p.m., it was a a hot 104°F! We weren't scheduled to meet the breeder until about 6:30 p.m. but we got there a little early so we could grab dinner.  The breeder was driving from southeastern Missouri and her leg of the trip was about 2 1/2 hours. About 6:50 p.m. she pulled into our arranged meeting spot. We all introduced ourselves and we took custody of Draco (Drake for short), a ring-tailed mosaic glider.

This is Drake shortly after we took custody of him. M had just placed an apple slice
in the pouch for him to snack on. Big feet!

We got home about 9:30 p.m. and got Drake settled in the "guest cage". We fed our four their evening mealworm snack, gave them some playtime, and then headed to bed. We were on the road again before 8:00 a.m. headed to the northeast side of Indianapolis, where we were to hand off Drake to two others in the glider community who would then take Drake to Columbus, OH where they would meet Drake's new owner driving in from western New York.

Drake checks out the guest cage. His color is lighter than standard grey gliders.
His tail is almost white with a darker ring on it (it's out of the frame and not visible).


We met up with Denise and Janelle who came down from Fort Wayne to drive the last leg of the railroad. We had a nice early lunch with them before they hit the road with little Drake. Later that night we got a message from Drake's new owner that they had arrived home safely and he was settling in to his new home.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Unexpected Bad News

Virga and Cirrus went in for their four-month follow up visit with the vet yesterday. Just in the last few days M had noticed a small nodule on Virga's abdomen, so the timing of the appointment was perfect. There was good news - both Cirrus and Virga have returned to their normal weights. Cirrus is 88 grams, I think the most she has weighed, and Virga was at 92 grams. They both have been active, although Virga has slowed down some. The vet was concerned about the nodule, which seemed on her hip bone, and wanted to do an x-ray, ultrasound, and needle aspiration. So, our 9:00 a.m. appointment turned into a six-hour affair since the first opening for the ultrasound was at 1:00 p.m. We left Cirrus with Virga  to keep her company at the vet's and went to run some errands. About 2:00 the vet came out and brought us back to the examining room to show us the x-rays and ultrasound. She had several concerns, but cautioned us that the x-rays and ultrasound had yet to be seen by the radiologist. The nodule was subcutaneous, right below the skin, and to her it didn't feel like it was the type of lump to be concerned about. What was more troubling were two spots on her liver evident in the ultrasound, which may be just cell regeneration, and some clouding evident on the x-ray in Virga's lungs. These might mean her cancer has metastasized.

Our vet called tonight, but we were gone at the time. She left a message that she wanted to discuss the cytology report with us, and will call us on Monday. However, the message was disheartening for what it didn't say. If the pathology was negative, I assume the message would have been something along the lines of "Everything's negative and there's nothing to worry about now".

In addition to this, Virga has been having some sort of spasm or tremors when she wakes up in the pouch. As she's having one she makes an noise similar to the noise they make if they are annoyed with each other. The first couple of time we heard it we thought one of them was bothering someone and the one being bothered was expressing their displeasure. The strange thing about it is it stops as soon as she is out of the pouch, and we have never heard it at any other time.

It will be a long weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fun with Bubble Wrap

Earlier this week I received a shipment and the item was wrapped in bubble wrap. For some reason, most of us can't resist trying to pop at least one of the bubbles if not all of them.  I unwrapped the item but left the bubble wrap loosely rolled up on the side table in the office intending to take care of it later. I had forgotten about it when we brought the gliders in the office for playtime that evening. I was sitting watching TV and heard a strange noise behind me,  When I turned around there were four curious gliders playing with the bubble wrap. No, they weren't trying to pop it, but they were having a good time crawling on and into it. Their interest was probably because it was new in their environment, but I also think the sound had something to do with it.

Caught in the act, CB, Foehn, and Cirrus playing with the bubble wrap.
Virga had jumped to the floor by the time I grabbed the camera

Two of the gliders crawled into the rolled up bubble wrap. I don't think they quite knew what to make of it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Virga, Virga, Virga...

Our normal evening routine includes giving each of the gliders their daily mealworm treat.  We divide their mealworm ration in two.  Cirrus and Virga are on her fast as can be when they hear M shake the container.  I usually feed CB and Foehn, who both tend to enjoy theirs from the comfort of the pouch.

Tonight M came in with the mealworms and I went to change clothes. Virga was up and on the wheel already so M brought her in the office, so I picked up the other three gliders on my way back to the office. When I walked into the office M was on the computer but Virga wasn't with her. As I went to sit down there was Virga on my desk, happily munching on mealworms from the container for Foehn and CB.  Usually M keeps the containers under tight wraps until we are both ready to hand out the mealworms. Fortunately, Virga had only managed to eat her ration at the point I snatched the container from her. We then had to keep her at bay while we gave the other three their mealworms,

Since I'm on the subject of Virga, she and her sister are doing very well following their surgery in March. This week Virga weighed in at 89 grams and Cirrus at 81. Post-surgery they were both down in the low 70s.  They both have a lot of energy for nine year old gliders and we're delighted with their recovery. Their next follow-up visit with the vet is the first week of July so we'll know more then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Great Escape

OK, this escape wasn't a great one with respect to some of the others we have experienced, but at time it happened last night The Great Escape (the movie) was showing on TCM.

The little ones were not being cooperative at the conclusion of play time last night. When it was time to call it quits, I rattled the zipper on the pouch and dropped it on the floor.  On most nights, at least two, if not all of the gliders come from all directions and crawl into the pouch. Last night Virga was the only one that entered the pouch, but after a few seconds crawled back out when nobody joined her.  On night when I don't get their total cooperation, I will usually take the two or three that climb in the pouch and take then to the cage. I eventually got CB and Virga to climb in the pouch, and took them to the cage.  I then came back and fetched Cirrus, who typically likes to curl up in a corner when she has had enough play time. After I placed her in the cage, I came back into the office to look for Foehn. Sometimes they do like to hide out and run around if they aren't ready to quit, so I wasn't too worried. However, after ten minutes looking in every possible place she could be I was becoming concerned. I suspected she may have slipped out of the office when I left to put CB and Virga in the cage. I always try to be careful about this and never have had a problem with one of them sneaking out in the past. Closing the office door behind me just in case she was still in there, I started looking for her in the great room, where their cage is located. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her dash under a bookcase just outside the office.  At least she wasn't downstairs in the basement!  Of course, when I looked under the bookcase she wasn't there. Within seconds I heard the rapid "ptap ptap ptap" of a glider running in the dining room. She saw me - I saw her and placed the pouch on the floor. Thankfully, she crawled right in the pouch and that was that. Elapsed time was about 10 minutes - nothing like her last escape. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Visit from Molly

Today our son E came over for Mother's Day dinner and brought his glider Molly.  Molly is about the same age as Foehn and CB, but he has had Molly since she was about 8 weeks old (Foehn and CB were 5 months old when we picked them up).  Molly has developed a close bond with him, and sticks close to him when she is scared or unsure. Today he wanted to take her outside for a bit and let her climb in a crab apple tree just outside our front door. Now, this is something that we are not comfortable doing with our gliders. We would be afraid they would take off and go exploring.  Molly does not go far and will come back to E. He puts her down in the grass and steps backward, and she chases him and climbs up his leg when she catches him (or rather, when he lets her catch him). During the brief outdoor session today I was able to get a  good photo of Molly in the tree.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

On the Hunt

The last few days have been warm and so we have had the windows open in the office during the gliders' playtime. Tonight Cirrus spent over an hour on the window chasing moths on the other side. One particularly large moth kept her entertained (and probably a little frustrated) for almost 30 minutes. The moth fluttered between the window and the screen with Cirrus chasing it every time it came close to the screen. Sugar gliders are insectivores (actually, omnivores) so I'm sure she would have enjoyed catching and eating it. Someday we may have to try and let a couple of moths loose in their cage.

Cirrus checking out a small moth on the other side of the screen.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Same Old Routine

There's not a lot new to report on the gang. The abrasion on Cirrus' face appears to be healing, so we haven't put the stuffed animals back on the cage yet. Their nighttime routine is pretty much back in their groove.Virga has been waking first and coming out to run in the wheel before any of the others. That's our signal to get their food ready and bring them into the office for play time. After they get their meal worms, Virga runs on the wheel and Cirrus explores before she crawls into M's sweatshirt.  Foehn and CB retreat back into their sleeping pouch before one of them decides to come out. Even when they do come out, they usually head right to M's sweatshirt. The room is then quiet except for the sound of Virga running in the wheel. However, even she caves in to the rest of them and joins them in M's shirt. One recent change, however, is that Cirrus has rediscovered the fun of climbing on the window screens. When M leaves to get ready for bed we have to fish them out of her sweatshirt, and then they decide to run and climb around the office, and me. CB is climbing up my shirt as a write this.



CB contemplates leaving the pouch after Foehn has left.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The One-Month Checkup

Cirrus and Virga returned to the vet today for the their one month post-surgery checkup.  Bottom line is they are doing fine! Their incisions healed very well, and there were no signs of any further growth. They will have to be watched, of course, especially Cirrus. Speaking of Cirrus, we had the vet check out her face today. She had some sort of abrasion to the left of her nose where the fur is gone. It was small, but noticeable. This weekend M came up with a likely reason which hadn't occurred to us earlier. Each morning the four little stuffed animals we place on top of the cage are on the floor. M figured that perhaps Cirrus was getting a little to aggressive trying to get to the stuffed animals and was trying to push her nose through the cage opening. The vet concurred, stating that this was not something you would see as a result of their cancer.The vet also stained her eyes to check if there might be a scratch on the cornea. There was a tiny speck that might have been an old scar, but otherwise everything looked good.

Virga and Cirrus apparently were popular patients at the hospital. One of the vet students with us today was present for their surgery and took care of them post-op and was anxious to see them. The vet tech who administered their anesthesia also stopped in the exam room to see how they were doing.

The ladies have their next checkup in two months.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Snack Time!

All of our gliders love meal worms. Our nightly routine is to give them a meal worm snack at the start of play time.  However, I think Virga and Cirrus love them the most.  As soon as M shakes the container with the meal worms, they pop out of the pouch and excitedly climb on to M's lap for their snack. CB and Foehn, while they like their meal worms, don't get anywhere near as excited as Virga and Cirrus. I managed to get some video of M giving Virga and Cirrus their snack last night.

By the way, apparently there is a problem with the blog "disconnecting" from this video I uploaded in the last post. It works for awhile if I delete it and upload it again, but that's a bit inconvenient.  I'll try to get this resolved one way or another.





Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Change of Venue

The sugar gliders' life has been pretty normal the last two weeks. Virga and Cirrus have healed nicely, and they are all getting along well. We have been monitoring the weight of all four gliders each day, and Virga and Cirrus have gradually gotten to their pre-surgery weight. The week all four were reunited Virga went into heat, and Cirrus the week after. That seemed to slow their weight gain, but now they are back on track.

Yesterday we took delivery of some new wood furniture for my office, and the finish had a strong odor. We didn't feel that would be too good for the gliders. So, the last two nights we have had "play" time in our bathroom instead of my office. The bathroom isn't as nearly as interesting as my office to run around in. There is nothing good to climb on, as we can't really get the PVC tree into the bathroom. The only thing we have in there is the wheel, which Virga takes full advantage of.  They all like the warm floor (the tile flood is heated), and that's conducive to napping. So play time has been short, and rather uneventful. I am looking forward to having playtime in the office again, as it will be interesting to see their reaction to the changes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back to Normal

When we last left our gang of four, they were spending the night as two gangs of two. On Saturday evening we attempted to reintroduce them again. W first had them out in the office with some crabbing. I was holding Cirrus and CB in  pouch when they started crabbing at each other. Foehn, who was on the floor at the time, came bounding up my leg and to the pouch, bound and determined to come to the aid of her brother. I didn't think any good would come of that so I tried to keep her from going in the pouch. She let me know she was none too happy about that and sunk her teeth in to my finger, drawing blood. Hmmm, this was going well.

We decided the best approach would be to reintroduce Virga and Foehn  Once Foehn calmed down, I took Foehn and Virga into the bathroom to the controlled environment of the bathtub. There was some crabbing, but in 15 minutes they were running around and tolerating each other.  I went into the office  holding a pouch with two very quiet girls inside.  I took Cirrus from M, who had her and CB, and into the bathroom we went.  I proceeded to reacquaint Cirrus with Foehn, with Virga there to "mediate". Again, there were a few moments of crabbing, but in about 10 minutes the three of them were running around the bathroom having a grand old time. I rapped on the wall (the bathroom shares a wall with the office) and asked M to bring CB in. For the next hour and a half or so all four gliders climbed, jumped, and ran around the bathroom and me. There was a blanket on the floor so they were safe and comfortable.

It was time to put them in the cage. We had been communicating with another glider owner whose advice we respect and her suggestion was to let the gliders work out their differences and re-establish their pecking order. This meant that we would have to let them crab and chase each other without interfering. Easier said than done, since we were both more than a little concerned for Virga and Cirrus, not wanting them (or CB and Foehn, for that matter) to be injured. So, we placed them in the cage, and it was calm for all of 15 seconds. There was angry crabbing and gliders being chased around the cage. M was a mess about this and said she wouldn't be able to sleep. The most scary part was when Foehn and Cirrus "balled up" on one of the wheels. All we could do was watch, and in a few seconds one of them went leaping out of the wheel.  I told M I would stay up with them but she wanted to be out there and set up a blanket and pillow on the floor of the great room. I was dozing on and off in an easy chair and got enough sleep to keep me going for awhile. There were periods of quiet in the cage, interspersed with angry crabbing and the sounds of gliders being chased off a wheel or being kept away from one of the kitchens. Any time there was a disturbance I would go to the cage to observe and make sure nobody appeared injured. M fell sound asleep at some point, and about 2:00 a.m. I woke her and told her to head to bed. She would be very sore if she spent the whole night on the floor.

When they weren't crabbing at each other, there were gliders on both wheels almost the whole time. At 3:30 a.m. they finally decided to take a nap, and so did I. At 4:15 a.m. they were up and at it again. The crabbing encounters were still occurring, but less frequently.  I dozed off in the chair, awaking when there was a disturbance in the cage. I woke up about 6:45 a.m. and it was quiet. I went to the cage to check on their sleeping arrangements, figuring they would be in at least two separate pouches. We had three in the cage to give them more options. To my surprise, they were all in one pouch! Success!  At that point I went to bed to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

By Monday morning M had recovered from our long night, and you would have never known the gliders had been separated for two weeks and we had gone through a stressful reunion. Things were back to normal.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reunion Day

For three nights we have had Virga and Cirrus in a separate cage in close proximity to the big cage where CB and Foehn are housed. Last night, we switched cages - CB and Foehn spent the night in the small cage, and Virga and Cirrus in the big cage. This was to get them familiar with each others scent again, because today we wanted to try and get them together for the first time since Virga and Cirrus had their surgery two weeks ago.

We wanted to reintroduce them in the bathroom again (similar to the original introductions), so after breakfast M thoroughly cleaned the bathroom and we laid an old comforter on the floor. We decided to get CB and Cirrus together first as they are the two most laid back of the four. We brought them into the bathroom along with an extra sleeping pouch, and set them free on the floor. I was standing by with a large piece of fleece in case I needed to intervene in an altercation.  However, it wasn't needed. True to their nature, CB and Cirrus crawled into a pouch together like they had never been apart! Well, that was easy. Since Cirrus and CB were successfully reunited, we thought we would try to bring in Foehn to join them. M went and fetched Foehn from the cage, and we set her on the floor in a pouch.  Cirrus wandered over and stuck her nose in the pouch, and within seconds both gliders were crabbing and Foehn grabbed Cirrus. Without thinking I tried to grab both gliders, one in each hand, and successfully got them apart, but not without Foehn chomping down hard on a finger. Both gliders were frightened, and a few additional approaches to each other resulted in more crabbing.  We collected Foehn, who seemed to be the instigator, and put her back in her cage so she and Cirrus could calm down. Once Cirrus calmed down, we brought Virga in to see if she would be OK with CB and Cirrus. She slowly approached the opening of the pouch CB and Cirrus were in, and after only a brief moment of hesitation crawled right in and curled up in the bottom. She needed her sleep and no one was going to deprive her of that!  M carried the three of them around in their sleeping pouch during the afternoon so I could clean the cages. Foehn spent the afternoon in the small cage while we tried to figure out what our next step was going to be.


4:30 p.m.

M suggested we try and get Foehn and Virga together next.  That meant fishing Virga out of the sleeping pouch she was sharing with CB and Cirrus, and she probably wasn't too happy about that. We brought Virga and Foehn into the bathroom and set them on the floor with no pouches on the floor for them to retreat to.  It took a few moments before they saw each other, and there was no immediate reaction. They eventually approached each other, and surprisingly it was Virga who took exception. She crabbed and went after Foehn, who scampered up M's leg to the safety of her shoulder. Poor Foehn was frightened and didn't know what to make of it all. It was clear this wasn't working too well, so about 15 minutes later I decided we should try getting them together in the bathtub where it is easier to contain them. Initially there was crabbing and frightened gliders. I cupped Virga beneath my hand and on a piece of fleece so she could see but not move easily (and it also provides security for her). I did the same for Foehn, and moved them closer together. After a few minutes they both seemed to relax, and best of all there was no crabbing. A few more minutes later, I placed one of the pouches in the tub and they both crawled in without incident. There was a little maneuvering and a few brief "tsks", but soon they settled in to sleep!


6:20 p.m.

I had just finished a shower after working out and was getting ready to make some dinner when M poked her out of my office and called me. Foehn had come out of the pouch to take care of "business", and when she crawled back into the pouch Virga crabbed and lunged at her. Virga continued to crab, even at me, and despite a couple of attempts and one near success, Virga was not happy having Foehn around. They are now sleeping in separate pouches, and we are trying to figure out next step.


8:30 p.m.

We thought we would try to get Foehn and Cirrus together in the same manner as we did with Virga. Interestingly, it was Foehn who went after Cirrus this time. This may be a dominance thing among the females - Virga/Foehn, and Foehn/Cirrus. At any rate, after 10 minutes or so Cirrus and Foehn were OK with each other and went into the pouch.  There was still some crabbing, so I went and got CB out of his slumber and had him join Foehn and Cirrus. That helped and they calmed down. I then went and got Virga from M and she crawled in as well.  Unfortunately, Foehn was interested in running and jumping, and not in sleep, so she came out. Virga crabbed and one in a while lunged when she tried to return to the pouch, so it appears their differences have not been worked out.


10:30 p.m.

There continues to be dust-ups between Virga and Foehn, somewhat less so with Foehn and Cirrus. For our own piece of mind and their safety, we are going to have them in separate cages tonight, and we'll see how they are during play time tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recovery

Virga and Cirrus had their follow-up appointment with the vet on Monday afternoon. The incisions were healing well and the ladies were freed of their e-collars before we left.  They both have lost weight the last ten days, about 8 grams each. Cirrus immediately started 30 minutes of cleaning every part of her body she could not reach while wearing the collar.  It was sort of comical in a way. You could just hear her thinking "Finally I can take a bath!"

We met the two surgeons who performed the surgery on Virga and Cirrus, and our vet  discussed the histopathology with us. Both gliders did have cancerous tumors, which wasn't surprising. However, the surprise was that Cirrus' cancer was more aggressive and there was evidence it had spread into the lymphatic system. As far as that is concerned all we can do at this point is wait and see. Both gliders have another follow-up appointment in a month.

Dr. W asked if we would mind if they published a case study of the ladies' diagnosis and treatment, and of course we immediately agreed. This would be published in one of the veterinary journals. Hopefully what Virga and Cirrus have gone through will benefit other gliders in the future. Dr. W and the staff at the University of Illinois VetMed Hospital were terrific throughout this whole ordeal.

We have two hurdles to jump before life is back to normal around here. Even though they were separated only 10 days, we will have to go through re-introducing Virga and Cirrus to CB and Foehn. A couple of nights ago night we brought Cirrus and Virga into the playroom in their small cage while Foehn and CB were running around. Foehn climbed up on the cage with Virga on the other side, and there was much crabbing and consternation. So, we have the pairs in separate cages and will begin the intro process again in earnest when the ladies have started eating normally again, Their appetite is the second hurdle.  They have been eating, but not very much, and that might be partly due to the antibiotic they were on. Tonight one of the vetmed students that works with Dr. W called to check on Virga and Cirrus. She suggested that we may want to move the cages apart on the chance that stress may be affecting their desire to eat. So, we will give that a try starting tonight.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Rough 24 Hours

Early this week we let Virga and Cirrus have some free time in the office since they had been doing so well.  Virga was particularly happy to be out, and she kept climbing up on us and the tree to jump. We were trying not to let her jump, but she did manage to sneak in one or two longer jumps. When we were gathering them up to go back in their cage, M noticed that Virga had some blood at the bottom of her incision and found that her incision had separated a bit near the bottom. This was probably from her activity, and we now regretted letting them out. M also saw Cirrus able to get her head around to try and groom her incision, and it appeared their e-collars might be too small to prevent them from doing so. They also seemed more interested in grooming each other. That night we ended up keeping them in two separate cages so they wouldn't bother each other.  M spent time that night making two larger e-collars. The gliders were not happy with them, as it was more difficult for them to move around and get comfortable. Cirrus in particular hated her collar. She is smaller than Virga and these collars were bigger and twice the weight of the previous ones. That night Cirrus did not each much. Most of her waking time was spent struggling against the collar. When she did sleep, she was unable to sleep in the curled up position that they enjoy. Cirrus seemed generally lethargic, and I think she was also affected by that fact she was not with her sister. Virga did not like her collar either, but she seemed more resigned to dealing with it.

Cirrus sleeping in her e-collar. Gliders often like to wrap their tail
across their eyes while sleeping. Somehow Cirrus managed
to get her tail under the collar and across her eyes.

Last night we decided to put the smaller e-collar on Cirrus and to let them spend the night in one cage together. You could see the change in Cirrus' demeanor. She and Virga nuzzled each other, and Cirrus was interested in eating again, and enthusiastically ate two pieces of avocado. Both gliders were doing much better today, and there were no more problems with Virga's incision. We put her back in the smaller e-collar late this afternoon, and now both of them seem to be feeling pretty good.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feeling Frisky

Tonight we brought Virga and Cirrus into the office and let them run around for awhile. Anytime they are awake and we walk into our bedroom (where their temporary cage is), they come to the front wanting us to take them out.  So we decided to give them a little free time tonight, just making sure they aren't taking any big jumps yet - which they want to do very badly! Their incisions are healing well, and they have got their energy and appetites back.  They are tolerating their e-collars as well as can be expected. During the day they sleep curled up in a nest of fleece M has placed in the cage for them. We aren't using a sleeping pouch because they don't have to climb and we don't want them to get hung up with their collars in it.

Virga and Cirrus asleep in their "nest" of fleece.

Their follow-up appointment with the vet is on Monday, and at that point we should be able to remove the e-collars and let them rejoin CB and Foehn as long as everything looks good.

Speaking of CB and Foehn, they have been pretty frisky the last few nights as well. Maybe it's the warm weather, but it has been nice to have them jumping and climbing around instead of snoozing in M's shirt or the sleeping pouch.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Guess Being Fashionable Isn't Enough

Virga and Cirrus have been doing very well the last few days. They are limited in their activity by the smaller cage and can only climb, When we came into the room last night they came to the front of the cage and waited for us to take them out. We have been taking them out for periods of time and letting the climb on us and walk around on the floor for a bit.  They are both feeling pretty frisky but we don't want them to be too active until they have healed some more.  The incisions look good and appear to be healing well.

Today we thought we would put the ladies in e-jackets and remove the collars. So after their morning medications we removed Virga's collar and put her in her e-jacket.  It did not take her long to wriggle out of it, so there were a number of more tries until she finally seemed secured in the jacket. She crawled into their sleeping pouch and settled in. Cirrus was up next. She did not like this at all, and it took several tries before she was secure, or so we thought. In about five minutes she had managed to wriggle out of it. Rather than keep trying to keep her in her lime-green jacket, we put the e-collar back on. I picked up the sleeping pouch to find that Virga had wriggled halfway out of her jacket (she apparently wasn't sleeping as I thought), so we removed her jacket and returned her to the e-collar. We did not want to stress them out by repeatedly trying to get them in .the jackets. Apparently we need to work on our technique, because they should not be able to get out of the jackets.

Virga in her e-jacket






Cirrus takes off after he e-jacket was put on

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Home and On the Road to Recovery

Virga and Cirrus underwent surgery at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Thursday. We brought them in around 10:00 a.m. and met with our vet. She went over what exactly was going to happen with each glider. One change from what she had thought earlier was that they would not be spayed. Since  Dr. W. felt that these tumors were possibly hormonally driven spaying them would eliminate the hormones from the equation.  However, spaying is a fairly serious procedure for sugar gliders, and she felt the risk from that surgery was too high, and we agreed. Instead, they removed the mammary glands along with the tumors, and then performed a "pouch ablation" to minimize the potential for residual mammary tissue being left behind and for abnormal cell growth to reoccur. The pouch is more or less a flap of skin, so this was a much less traumatic procedure than spaying.  It left both of them with about a one inch incision that was closed with internal sutures and externally with tissue glue.

Surgery was scheduled for early afternoon.  Virga was first, and her surgery took about an hour. The two tumors had grown together and were hard to distinguish as separate masses. When her surgery was completed, Cirrus had her surgery, which lasted about 40 minutes.  Dr. W called about 4:00 p.m. to let us know both girls had made it through surgery just fine and were awake. However, they were going to keep them overnight in ICU so they could be given injectable pain meds and watched carefully during their waking hours.

Virga and Cirrus at home in their e-collars.
We had sent along e-collars and two new e-jackets with Virga and Cirrus. The e-jackets are a relatively new device that has been successfully used with gliders to keep them from self-mutilating. On Wednesday night I practiced getting Virga into her e-jacket, but it took three tries before I got it right. After surgery they tried to get Virga in her e-jacket, but she wiggled right out of it. Rather than stress her out they went with the e-collars. One of the e-collars we have attaches with snaps and works quite well most of the time.  They tried it on Cirrus and she had it off in two seconds. The second e-collar wouldn't stay on, so the vet and vet techs made two e-collars out of old x-ray film. Not fashionable, but very effective.  The ladies had a pretty good night and cuddled up in their hospital cage. They ate a little, and apparently were loved on by the ICU staff.

I picked them up at the hospital on Friday about 11:00 a.m. The two vet med students that had been working with Dr. W and with us the last few visits explained the care needed for Virga and Cirrus. The incision site on both was a little swollen, but that was to be expected.  Otherwise both gliders looked groggy, but good.. Dr. W went into a little more detail on the surgery. To her knowledge this particular procedure has not been done before on gliders for treatment of mammary carcinoma. She was not able to find much in the veterinary literature about mammary carcinoma in gliders and the vets she spoke had heard of it but did not have much direct experience with it. So, Virga and Cirrus may end up being pioneers in glider veterinary care.

For all they have gone through, Virga and Cirrus are doing remarkably well. They ate last night, starting off with an appetizer of a few mealworms. They were mildly active in their cage last night. One of the medications they are on includes a mild sedative, and we really don't want them to be too active. We have them a a small cage in our bedroom so we can hear them in case something is wrong. The are able to climb a bit, but that's about it. They seem to be even a little more active tonight, and their incision sites look very good. They are eating and drinking.  The definitely do not like their e-collars, but seem to be a little more tolerant of them today. On Monday we will  put them in the e-jackets, which will give them more freedom of movement and make it a little easier for them to eat.

Their follow-up appointment with Dr. W is in about seven days. By that time we should have the results of the histopathology of the tissue that was removed. They should also be just about ready to rejoin CB and Foehn and normal glider activities.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From Bad to Worse

Virga is scheduled for surgery on Thursday to remove the two masses on either side of her pouch, so we are in the process of making preparations for her care after surgery. In the meantime, yesterday morning M observed Cirrus aggressively grooming her pouch  during the gliders' morning yogurt time. When she checked Cirrus' pouch she found it raw and irritated around the outside of the pouch from overgrooming. Back to the vet we went today. Dr. W immediately noticed that her pouch was worse than two weeks ago and wanted a better look. So, off went Cirrus to go under general anesthesia so they could get a closer examination. When Dr. W came back into the room with a camera we knew the news couldn't be good. The photo showed Cirrus had a growth about the size of a pea on one of her mammary glands. Dr. W wanted to do a needle aspiration for a cytology and of course we said go ahead. The results were supposed to be available late today.  The phone rang around 7:00 p.m.and M took the call. The news was not good. While Cirrus' mass is much smaller than Virga's two, it is definitely cancer (while Virga's may be pre-cancerous). Dr. W called another well-known glider vet to consult with him, and he said he had never encountered a glider with breast cancer, let alone two. Our vet will be calling other vets she knows with glider experience to see what light they might shed on all of this, but it looks like we could be forging new territory.

It's very possible Cirrus may be joining Virga in the surgical suite on Thursday if they can swing it.  It will be a little crazy for us for a few days caring for two recovering gliders but it will probably be better for them not only from a medical standpoint but also for their social well-being.

Our two ladies just turned 9 years old this month (we've had them two years) and they are pretty special to us. Not much of a birthday for them, but hopefully Thursday's outcome will mean more birthdays to come.