The Sugar Glider’s scientific name translates to ‘short-headed rope dancer’ although I don’t know if there are any ‘long-headed rope dancers’ out there. In any case, these tiny babies have survived a few days and seem to be thriving despite, the trauma of losing mum and out of pouch too early.
A domestic cat killed their mother and dragged the body home to display to the family one night last week. Unfortunately, nobody thought to check the pouch until the next day when dumping the body of the ‘possum’ into the bin. The twin joeys were cold and limp when the guilt-ridden cat owner called them in. Furless, ears not up yet, eyes still closed and weighing 8 & 10grams, they were helpless and vulnerable. The weight puts them at around 55 days old (according to the chart for Sugar Gliders which I assume them to be since the cat had decapitated the mother during his playtime.)
I brought their body temperature up slowly over a few hours while focussed on rehydration at the rate of one drop each per hour. They live in a hotbox (stable temperature and humidity) and are doing well enough for me to name them. I wanted to share their progress so heated up a room and took them out for a minute of video. It’s a short, not very professional taping but I can’t risk stressing them with retakes etc.
Sugar gliders can be found in forests in the eastern states of Australia. Nocturnal feeders and silent gliders means not many people have the pleasure of seeing one in the wild. They build tidy bowl shaped nests from green eucalypt leaves and live in community groups, complete with a dominant male who uses glands on his head and chest to scent-mark territory and even other members of his group. They breed twice a year between June to January in the wild but the pet trade breeds them a third time in some cases. Birth happens 16 days after breeding generally with twins or triplets. Like most other marsupials (pouch young) joeys tiny, this species reaches six (6) grams at 50 days.
They live the nest and forage for themselves at 50gr / 120days old. Communication is verbal with a series of yips, squeals and hisses.
As foraging adults they eat a range of different foods to stay healthy. Insects, nectar and polled, seeds and eucalyptus sap which they’ll scrape the bark of trees to get to. Adults weigh 150 to 170 grams and can glide up to 100 metres. They can live for nine years in the wild and around five as domestic pets.
Here’s a photo of what they’ll look like as adults. I hear they’re hugely popular pets in the US and I’m happy to let you guys recycle any suitable names already in use.
Finally, I need to let you know we have one male and one female to name, so post back some suggestions, or vote for a suggestion someone else made. I know they are very popular pets and enthusiasts house them in huge enclosures which allow them to glide while others keep them in little bird cages. I only ask you to do the best you can for the needs of any pet in your care – oh, and please be responsible cat owners….
Until next month, be well