Is there such a thing as cheap sugar gliders?

I decided to write about cheap gliders. Recently, I have come across a few people who have made BIG mistakes when it comes to purchasing gliders. Yes, getting a glider is tempting, especially after seeing people who have joeys or tame adults sitting on their shoulders. I know that those that are interested are normally young adults and students. RM300 to RM400 for a joey may seem too much money to spend on a pet so they tend to make the mistake of purchasing adults because pet shops or suppliers tend to wave about a very attractive price in front of them. RM80 to Rm120 for 1 glider, wouldn’t you be interested to get 1? I know anyone would, cause that money is just a fraction of Rm400.

Many do not know the origins of adult gliders. Majority are imported wild stock. Some are either legally or illegally brought in to cater to the demand for breeding gliders. This is the reason why their price is cheap. Since they are super hard to tame, the only way is to sell them cheap to gain interest. Adult gliders actually live a very miserable and stressed life. Look at this picture taken by KJ at a petshop in Kuala Lumpur. Doesn’t it make you want to cry?

The wild adults tend to be malnourished, with sunflower seeds and mealworms as a staple. Some sellers would offer old apples and low quality dog kibble. The gliders have nothing to hide or sleep in, all they get is a few empty food containers to cuddle into but that just isn’t enough.

Some sellers would then say “Get a pair and let them breed, then you can tame your own joey”. Whoaaaaaa there!!!! Ask a newbie glider owner to breed??? Gliders are not breeding machines, nor are they as easy as keeping a hamster. I am quite disgusted by the fact that many pet shops actually advice newbies to get a wild adult pair to breed and to keep in a small cage meant for small birds. Some would even recommend hamster cages and hamster food. Breeding is a whole new level as they need a varied diet, proper living environment and also a keeper has to have things on standby just in case a joey or 2 get rejected by the parent gliders.

To new owners and also interested glider keepers out there, think carefully before you make a decision. Do not just buy because someone gives you a very cheap price. Think about the consequences of having a wild pair, think of the health of the glider and most important, think of the welfare of the glider when it comes into your care. Avoid getting cheap buys, just save up to get a healthy proper age joey.

My Keera

I have one glider that is the odd one out of all…. she has large ears…. to me she looks like a little donkey but she is a very loving glider who is very gentle, even children can handle her.

Meet Keera, my donkey eared glider. Thanks KJ for taking her pictures.

I really enjoy seeing her pose…. in these pictures, she was happily munching on a mealworm while KJ took pictures of her.

Boys or Girls?

This is a question I often get when people inquire about gliders,

“Which is better? Male or female?”

Well, to me the difference is mainly physical.

The Male:

Most male animals have scent glands for marking territory and family members and to ward off other male animals of the same species. Sugar glider males have their scent glands located on their chest, head and anus. On the head, we normally call it a bald spot, mainly because it appears bald.

Here is a picture of a males head. On the chest, the scent gland appears to be a deep yellow spot, sometimes it would appear damp from musking.  The oils from the musk is slightly coloured, like a yellow tint. The male would normally rub his musk all around the cage to guard his territory, and rub his head and chest on his females and colony members to show that he is dominant.

The smell is noticeable but not overpowering if you keep the cage clean. If the musk bothers you, then the male can always be neutered. After neutering, the scent gland on the head would stop producing musk and the fur would grow back again.

Male glider sexually mature as soon as the bald spot is noticeable. This can be between 4 months to 12 months OOP. The urge to mate would depend on the glider itself. Now males may sometimes have this little pink worm-like thing poking out of it’s anus. Do not be alarm as that is the glider’s penis. It is bifurcated, meaning it is split in 2, looks something like a snake’s tongue.

One thing with males that are not neutered, it is hard for them to get along when they are sexually matured. Some may fight due to hormone levels. So to avoid all these problems, get your male neutered.

Why Neuter?

First it actually lessens the musky smell. Then with testosterone levels down, they can actually be more docile and more loving since intact males tend to musk a lot and also act aggressively to new smells. I have a male, Kimba and he is one dominant glider. He would not let any of the other females gliders eat first. If they go too near to any of the 4 food bowls, he would chase them away with crabbing, hisses and chattering. If I were to put another male glider in his territory, he may end up killing the other male. So if you are not breeding gliders, then get your male neutered for safety reasons.

The Female:

Females do have scent glands but it is located at the anus and pouch. Females do not have any bald spots of scent glands on the chest, which is why they have little to no odour, if compared to a male. The pouch is located around the tummy area, and it is a little slit. Now females sexually mature around 6 months to 12 months OOP, depending on living conditions and diet, some just become sexually mature early. The best age for females to breed is actually after 10 months old. Younger than that then the female would not be ready, she may cannibalise or reject her joeys and it would weaken her body too. So think carefully about having a male and female pair.

Females get along pretty well with both sexes. They are not as dominant as males so having 2 females is alright. Female gliders cannot be spayed, so to control breeding, just neuter the male or keep 2 females.

So which is better?

There is no difference in personality, every glider are different individuals. Males and females can be both calm and gentle, or hyper active and feisty. To me they are equally good as pets, just that you have to find out if the particular glider suits you or not.

Bonding

Sugar gliders are social creatures. Most of us get gliders because of their loyalty to their owners, being one of the best pocket pets around. Now gliders do not just stick like glue to you on the first day. You need to start a close friendship with your glider or joey. You need to get your glider or joey to get familiar with your voice, touch, scent and handling. All this is done through bonding and it takes time.

Honestly speaking, joeys are easier to bond with than adult gliders. In Malaysia, adult gliders that are available at pet shops in a price range between RM120 to Rm180 are WILD adult gliders. This is the same with suppliers, selling Wild sugar gliders for around RM60 to RM80. Yes, to a student or anyone who thinks spending RM300 is a waste since an adult is so cheap, these impulse buyers tend to regret later. I have heard of people releasing their adult gliders into our jungles just because it bites, smells, doesn’t like to be held and would not stay in their hands for a second. Gosh, they are so clueless. Impulse buyers with no research. The poor gliders would then starve and suffer in our local jungles for they can’t find their proper food, and they would most probably end up as dinner to our civet cats living in the wild. A pity….

Bonding

Don’t you wish your glider can sleep in your shirt pocket like the one is this picture?

The key to a close glider and owner bond is “The more time you spend with your glider, the closer the bond”. This is very true as I have personally experience gliders living in my room and being on me for most of the time during the day and gliders living out of my room and having only 2 to 3 hours with me. The gliders that are normally with me have a closeness that I can hardly explain. They trust me and come up to me eagerly. Anyway, here are some tips on bonding with a new joey. It applies to adults as well, just that adults take a slightly longer time to bond.

Like I said before, it doesn’t take overnight. Bonding means building a solid relation with your glider. It would take about 1 to 2 months for them to become really bonded to you. If you are the kind of person who spends very little time with your gliders, then the bonding process takes longer, maybe 6 months.

  • When you have brought home your joey or glider, place it in it’s cage and let it settle itself for about 2 days. Sometimes I advice people to give 24 hours but the best is actually 48 hours of rest from the stress of the new move. A new glider or joey needs time to settle, get used to it’s new environment and feel comfortable. Best is to just provide a sleeping pouch and some ropes to climb on in the cage for the 1st few days. Do not put a wheel inside first as the joey or glider may stay in it to feel safe and won’t venture out.
  • Place some of your worn tshirts on the cage and also inside it’s sleeping pouch. What I normally would do is keep a few old shirts on stand by. Wear them for a night or 2 to transfer my smell onto the shirts. Then I take 1 shirt and cut into a few pieces of scrap cloth. This pieces of cut up tshirt would go into the bonding pouch and sleeping pouch. My scent would be with them during their sleep. With the other shirts, I keep them aside and use them to partially cover the cage. This also makes the cage smell a bit like me and the gliders would then learn to feel comfortable around my smell.
  • No make sure you do not wear any perfume or deodorant. Some gliders would lick some of the residue if they are curious and it can be harmful. Anyway, you also do not want your smell to be overpowered by something sweet smelling as it can interfere with the bonding process.
  • Get a bonding pouch. You can easily purchase a bonding pouch either from Pet Shack or SuggieStuff. This is one of the essential things that you must have before getting a joey. A bonding pouch is a fleece pouch that you can hang around your neck. You can bring your joey anywhere during the day when it is asleep inside a bonding pouch. Some people may say that you do not need to bring your glider or joey everywhere you go but trust me, if you do it, you create a better bond and it shortens the bonding time too. New joeys and gliders would at first feel stressed and fidgety in a bonding pouch, but with time, they would adapt to the idea. Pouch bonding gets your joey or glider to familiarize with different sounds and smells, movement from your body as well as recognizing your scent.
  • Ladies, you can do another way of bonding which is called “Bra Bonding”. This is where you place your joey in your bra during the day. I have used this method before and it creates a bad habit, your glider would then like to enter your shirt or anyone’s shirt to find a snug place to sleep in. But do not worry, guys and girls, you can also do bonding by having your joey or glider sleep in the pocket of a shirt. Only do this when you are in your home or room because most shirt pockets have no zipper, and if a joey or glider jumps out in a public place, then that would just create panic and trouble.
  • No new joeys and gliders can easily get freaked out by fast movements, so slow down yourself when you are with your joey or glider. Never move your arms fast or grab them fast as this would trigger their instinct to either sprint away to hide or attack back by biting and clawing.
  • Gliders recognize voices, so talk to your joey or glider everyday.
  • Never chase your new glider or joey when it is inside it’s cage. This would just make the bonding process longer. Tempt your glider by offering food. Mealworms, dried fruits or a bit of fruit preserve on your finger works wonders. Also, remember to train your glider to accept your hand. Whenever you have time, place your hand into their cage, pet them or hand feed them. This creates better bonding.
  • For playtime, use a small room that is glider safe or purchase a camping tent. I normally use my own bed room for bonding and play time but a tent is better. A glider would have little space to escape and hide, a tent would also have less distractions so a glider would learn to trust and bond easier.
  • Important, never put your hand into your glider’s bonding pouch or sleeping pouch. This can cause panic to your gliders as they feel like they are being attacked. Coax your glider or joey out slowly by using a treat, or just use your hands to nudge them out from the outside of the pouch. I always explain to people that they should slowly push a glider out of the pouch by using the same method when they are trying to squeeze toothpaste. Of course they have to do it gently and slowly.

Some gliders can become pouch protective, so to overcome that, coax your glider with treats. When your glider is in it’s pouch, talk to it and use your hands to touch it from outside the pouch. Normally with new gliders, this would cause a lot of crabbing but once gliders are used to this routine, they would not be pouch protective later.

It is rewarding to have a bonded glider. So take your time to train and bond with your glider. Remember, the longer time you spend with your gliders, the better the bond.

Picture credits go to Andrew and Connie for the first 2 pictures. The last goes to KJ. Thanks

Online Classifieds

Hi to all,

I know I have not been posting any new articles later, well, it is due to my Internet connection being down. Today I am back on track so I will post a few articles coz I have missed so many days.

Anyway, I am feeling concerned over a few matters.

Online classifieds. I know many people do like to browse online classifieds like Adpost, 88DB, Mudah, Pick and Post and other sites. Sometimes we come upon deals that are so hard to resist because they offer cheap prices that are way cheaper than any pet shop. Sometimes, cheaper than hobbyist breeders. My BIGGEST concern would be where these people are trying to sell glider joeys that are underage. Recently 1 ad had pictures of joeys that looked like they just opened their eyes, meaning 2 weeks OOP….. but then the ad states that it is 2 months OOP. What crap is that? A friend checked the date of the picture taken, and it was taken a few days before the ad was posted. So the seller really cannot lie by saying that he/she took the pics weeks ago. Another BIG concern is that the same person was selling the female with the joeys at first, but what happened to the female? Died? Sold? How can the joeys survive properly?

I also just realize this….. a few classified sellers have been associating my name with theirs, saying that I know them or they know me, just to get people to believe that their joeys are healthy. Anyone who has come across this, please leave a comment. I feel worried and uneasy. Some would either use my name, Hun or use my online username, crazymouse_yyh. Please beware with such sellers using my name.

Some sellers would even say they would teach you how to nurse the joey with milk. Why? Their answer is that joeys around 3 to 4 weeks old are easier to bond because they are clingy. What the….. that is TOTALLY WRONG!!! Here is the answer to why joeys around 4 weeks old are clingy. Joeys by instinct cling on to their mothers as they are out of pouch. They have this reflex to cling to be safe and secure. Baby Ringo from my breedings clings on to my finger whenever I hold him. Soon he will stop clinging and start to explore me when he grows older and more independent. 8 week OOP joeys are fully weaned from their moms. They have developed personalities, have curiosity on their side, become adventurous…. they won’t have a strong urge to cling to fingers. On your shirt, yes cause they climb and use their claws to grip your shirt. So a seller or breeder tells you that you should get a joey that is 4 weeks OOP and nurse it yourself with milk, please walk away and say BYE to the seller.

We should stop supporting these unethical sellers. Start getting quality joeys from responsible sellers who know about gliders. I can tell you guys, not many breeders know the origins of gliders and also the proper food and cages for gliders. Get yourself ready with the knowledge so that you would know which seller is a true glider lover and which is a businessman who just want to sell for a livelihood.

Handsome BoBo needs a new home.

This is BoBo, a male sugar glider that needs a new home. He is one of the first few joeys that I sold about 1.3 years ago. BoBo is 1.5 years old and needs a new home as his current owner has not been able to provide him with the attention a glider should need. Therefore she is giving him up for a better home.

BoBo is semi-tame and has lived alone since he was a joey. He would need a loving home with people who have the commitment and time to re-bond and tame him. This would be a challenge for newbies so preferably someone with some experience in handling gliders. BoBo is a very energetic male, hyper most of the time and he has been on a diet of fruits, mealworms and GliderSLURP!

There is a small fee of RM80 as a token. BoBo can be neutered with an additional RM140 as that is the vet bill.

I hope someone would be able to give him a new home soon. If you are interested, please leave a comment. Thanks.

Is my glider tame?

What is tame? People tend to assume that tame means extremely docile, would stick to their owners like glue, would not show aggression and would tolerate all kinds of touching and people.

Well, to me, tame means that the glider is comfortable with their owners and would rarely create a big fuss. Below are some characteristics of a tame glider:

- A tame glider would rarely crab at their owners or people.

- A tame glider is easy to handle and calm when held.

- A tame glider would readily eat from your hand. It should not attack your fingers with force.

- A tame glider would not bite till you get puncture wounds and blood. It is normal for chewing, nipping and grooming. Sometimes a little pressure is ok when it comes to nipping.

- A tame glider would not run and hide from you when it gets out of it’s cage. It should be calm and never run away. Sometimes gliders would play a bit of sprinting with you but they should not run and hide from being scared.

- A tame glider would allow you to cuddle and touch it, even while eating.

Questions first…

There are many impulse buyers who never think first before making a decision. Many joey gliders have suffered and died due to ignorant and clueless keepers who purchase them without research. Some may give lame excuses like:

“I got no Internet connection” or “I didn’t know that keeping them needs research” or “the petshop people told me they are very easy to care for” or “it was too cute so I had to purchase it” or “relax, as long they eat ok lah” or “I had hamsters before, so since they are squirrels, should be easy, eat hamster food enough lah”

Well, do those sound familiar? To me it does. Many do make this mistake. Before you think of purchasing a sugar glider, ask yourself a few questions first:

1) What is a sugar glider?

2) What is the proper age and size of a healthy joey?

3) Can you provide a well rounded diet?

4) Are you able to hold and feed mealworms and crickets to your glider?

5) Can you afford a big cage? Do you have the space?

6) Are you willing to spend on various type of fruits, both local and imported? The cost could be about RM40 a month depending on how many varieties you buy.

7) Are you able to keep them? Will your family members or household allow it?

8 ) Are you willing to keep and commit to gliders for their entire lifespan of 10 years or more?

9) Gliders are social animals, are you willing to spend money on 2?

10) Do you know what foods are dangerous to sugar gliders?

11) Are you able to play with your gliders for at least a full hour each day? Are you able to do pouch bonding for 4 to 6 hours a day?

12) If you go on vacation, who would care for it?

13) Are you willing to spend and travel for veterinary services since there are only 2 vets in Malaysia who knows about sugar gliders?

14) Have you considered neutering? What will you do if you get a male and female pair?

15) What if you get tired of them, do you just dump them away?

16) If you breed them, are you willing to spend more on cages, food and accessories? You must separate the young ones once mature to avoid inbreeding.

17) Do you have the time to stay up late at night to play with your gliders since they are nocturnal?

18 ) Do you own a fridge?

19) Can you tolerate the noises and sounds they make?

20) Are you afraid of poop, pee and bites?

If you can answer all of the above questions, then that means you have done your research and have thought thoroughly before getting a glider. Always make sure you check carefully with your household members if they are ok with you keeping gliders. Check with your landlord and housemates if you are renting a room. Always plan ahead, get everything ready before bringing your joey home.

1 or 2?

Some people would ask this question:

“Should I get 1 or 2 joeys?”

Well, simple answer. If you are thinking of only keep one glider, then get ready to change your sleeping habits and daily routine for single gliders need more attention, more roaming time, more playtime and more socializing than a pair of gliders.

A glider that grows up alone without any other glider companionship would be a lonely glider. It would still have you for company, and it would treat you as it’s mate or companion but then we are humans, we cannot glide or communicate like gliders. Some gliders that have lived alone for quite some time with minimal socilisation with other gliders tend to be reserve and can be aggressive towards other gliders. They would think that humans are their family and other gliders are trespassers. So never deprive a glider of having a glider friend. A single glider requires 2 hours of playtime, 2 hours of free foaming and a day of bonding in it’s pouch, carried by you. If you work in a workplace or company that has strict rules, then it would be a BIG problem. Another reason would be warmth…. a single glider would never get the warmth and security that colony or pair gliders get from each other. So it is best to keep them in pairs or more. In the wild, they live in a colony, about 7 to 12 gliders in one colony but normally it is made out of 3 to 4 non-related gliders while the rest are offspring. They would rarely inbreed as once they young reach a year old, they would disperse and look for their own colony.

Afraid that you would have trouble bonding? Well…. you won’t really have much trouble if you do it correctly. If you carry your bonding pouch with your gliders everywhere you go, along with play time and bonding time in a tent and a bit of hand feeding, then your gliders would be able to trust you and accept you as their family. Gliders are not like dogs and cats, earning their trust takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. Gliders learn that way and would never respond well to a hard hand.

If you are still concern about the bonding, then you can do it 1 glider at a time. I suggest that get hold of a 8 week old OOP joey. Start bonding and playing with it for the first few months. Once you have gotten to know your joey and have bonded for about a month or 2 and you are already confident in yourself, then thats the right time to get your 2nd joey. Bond as you would with the first. You can take them together in your bonding pouch. When they feel safe and secure, they will become easier to handle.

Sugar Gliders in Malaysia

The Petster’s Sugar Glider talk went very well and I was asked a few questions like are they endangered? Do we need a license to have them? How about keeping a sugar glider in our climate?

Well, firstly, sugar gliders are from the genus Petaurus Breciveps, widely found as pets and also as wild gliders in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and also some parts of Australia. In other countries, sugar gliders are illegal to keep due to the country’s law on keeping exotic animals, such as Singapore. In Australia, one is required to have a special permit to keep gliders. In US, breeders and keepers are required to get a license to keep and breed them. In Malaysia, it is pretty lenient. Almost anyone can own a glider since there is no need for any license or permit. Just a wallet full of cash and you can obtain a joey easily.

It is sad that there are many sugar glider mills and profit sellers in Malaysia. I know, everyone needs to make a living but to me it’s really is evil to see people place adult gliders that are wild and scared in cramped cages, selling them for about RM120 as breeding adults. The joeys are the ones that roll in the money for these unethical sellers and pet shops. Each joey can fetch a price of about RM400, and people do not realise that for that amount of money, they can get a perfectly healthy and active joey from a proper homebreeder. The joeys at pet shops are sometimes malnourished. They have been separated from their mother before they are fully weaned, then placed in cages with half a rotten apple. It is like taking a baby that is still nursing and giving it a chicken drumstick, expecting the baby to eat it. I have seen so many sad sights, where the joeys try their best to eat the apples or dry dog food put into their small tanks or cages. Many do end up dead and are thrown into the trash can like a piece of rubbish.

It is a sad sight. Just look how small and vulnerable and weak this joey is:

I think the joey is not more than 4 weeks OOP. The proper age should be 8 weeks OOP. Majority of the pet shops have staff that do not read up on the basic care nor do any research. They just advice base on what was given by the suppliers/mills. Just feed apples, mealworms and dry cat food. Some would even say keep them in hamster cages! I have had many SOS calls from people, last minute asking me why their joeys are weak, cannot walk, have difficulty eating…. when I question them about the diet, I was given the same answer over and over again – “I feed apples only and some cat food with yogurt”

It is not too hard to keep sugar gliders in Malaysia. We have some basic necessities such as large bird cages, homemade bonding pouches and sleeping pouches, cage accessories and toys as well as an abundant of local fruits. We are actually blessed with a variety of tropical fruits that we can get easily, such jambu air or water apple, sugar apple, papaya, ciku, rambutan, mango and so on. A glider just needs a diet with plenty of fruits and veggies of different varieties, supplement food (GliderSLURP), crickets and mealworms.

We still need to educate the public about sugar gliders. I am very glad to see that some forums have sugar glider communities, already having debates and sharing about glider care. This is certainly improvement. I just hope more people would join such forums and learn from the senior keepers. Learn about underage joeys and also how to locate a good breeder in my next post.