Climbing Fun!

I know how to have a fun weekend! Yes, pandemic is putting a damper on things, but I found a new pet project to brighten up my weekend!

Hector D. Byrd wrapped up after a bath

 

Hector has been very entertaining lately. A couple of weeks ago she started coughing. I was really worried! Every time she coughed, I would get up and go check on her, but she seemed fine, breathing was good, no discharge, eyes looked good, eating, drinking, pooping normally, I was stumped! The next day she coughed and I ran to check on her and she started laughing.  I realized she was coughing for attention! It’s developed into a new routine around here: Hector coughs, I ask if she is OK, “oh poor poor birdy! Is my baby bird OK?” She coughs again, maybe a couple of coughs in a row. “Poor Hector! what a terrible cough! Maybe you need a treat?” She laughs, I bring her a treat. This is what it is like to be owned by a parrot.

As I’m writing today, Wena the dragon is hanging out on the back of my chair. Bean is very concerned that she is going to eat me, or maybe he just wants to play with her, but here’s the look I’m getting.

 

The gliders are settling in really well.  I’m still not sure they like me, but they don’t bite me, so it’s all good. I’ve been reading that a lot of glider owners use mosquito net bed tents to let their gliders run and play. While I think this sounds like an awesome idea, I also know how incredibly messy my boys are, and they believe the entire world is their bathroom. I wasn’t excited about the idea of cleaning up a tent, as well as not wanting to buy or store the tent.

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo have been hanging out with me in my glass shower stall. It’s a double stall, like bathtub size, and it works out really well.  The boys can run around, and when it is over, I can just clean the shower. The problem is, other than the corner shelf unit, there isn’t much for them to climb on in the shower. This weekend, I had the best idea!

This pile of PVC was a homemade parrot stand I made for Hector years ago. She never liked it, so it has been up in the attic. Rebuilt, I was thinking I could convert it into a climber for the gliders!

I took the original structure and made sure it fit in the shower, and it did! Next I took a bunch of the fleece pieces I had for the gliders and hung them from the stand to give them more climbing options. I wasn’t sure if I would need to wrap the PVC in fleece or add something to make it easier for them to climb.

As soon as I let them out in the shower, two of them climbed right up the PVC pipe! They had no problems with it at all, especially Miney, the tiniest of the 4 by far. He is also the craziest! Every night Miney is the one running like a maniac in the wheel. Climbing this structure was definitely right up his alley. It took him maybe 2 seconds to figure out how to get from the structure I built up onto the shower head. At one point, he was running up one side of the fleece and down the other, over and over again.

Mo found himself a comfy spot on the 2nd layer and mostly hung out there.

Meenie enjoyed climbing, and went all the way to the top, but was a bit more cautious than crazy Miney. He explored carefully and checked out all the different parts.

My Eenie is my big boy. He’s chunky. He’s the one I most often find at the food bowl when he’s awake. He never left my body while they were out this time. His friends would come over and pester him, but he just hung out with me.

He sat in my lap, he hung out on my shoulder, he did some climbing, but only on me. At one point he tried to climb across my face, ouch! Thankfully the scratch is small. Not looking forward to trimming nails again, but it might be almost time.

Eventually, Miney really got into crazy mode, and just started running and leaping. He made his way to the shower head, then made the leap to the top of the shower doors. From there he was looking around and I knew I was in trouble. I put away the other three boys, and watched Miney leap about 8ft from the top of the shower doors to the towel rack. Scooped him up from there, and they all went back to their cage.

I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll be adding/changing toys to the climbing structure, but I’m so excited to have it! Now I don’t feel the need for a messy tent, and the boys have a great new play area. I just have to figure out how to keep Miney from the gap at the top of the shower!

Next project I’m working on is creating a BioActive terrarium for the Dragon! I’m learning all about substrates, clean up insects, and safe plants. I’ll update soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Cats, Dragon, And Glider Diet

Last night Puck was sleeping happily on the couch next to us. Logan decided to leave my lap and take over Puck’s spot. This is Puck wondering what the heck she’s thinking!

I’ve been wondering what the Dragon is thinking. Wena is still awake, and she’s a bit crazy. I’m not sure what is going on, but she is super active. She’s scratching at the glass of her tank, climbing everything. Basically knocking everything in her tank around every day lately. She’s never laid eggs since I’ve had her, but she could. I’ve added a dig box to her tank to see if that calms her down, but so far she doesn’t seem very interested in it.

This is the dig box. Just a small area with some safe soil for her her to dig in and lay eggs if she wants to. So far she has been climbing in and out of it, but that’s about it.

Friday, I took her out while I was working. Sometimes letting her sit on my shoulder settles her down, not this time! She was sitting on my shoulder and all of a sudden she leaped about 8 feet across the room! I was horrified! She’s never done anything like that before and I was really worried she was hurt. She got right up and looked at me like “What?” I watched her walk and she seemed fine, so I put her back in her tank to warm up.

She’s eating and pooping fine, just very active. She doesn’t seem to be shedding, which has made her crazy in the past.

As you can see in the background, she’s taken down all the foliage that usually hangs near the top of her tank. I’ve gotten tired of constantly fixing it, so now I fix it in the morning, she messes it up all day, and I fix it again the next morning.

The free fridge I got is working out great! So nice to have all the animal food separate so I can just grab them and feed. The little built in freezer isn’t the greatest, but it works. Unfortunately, there is one control for the temp of the fridge and freezer, so I’ve had to play with it to keep the freezer as cold as possible without freezing everything in the fridge part. I’m using the freezer for things like glider fruits and veggies I’m currently using, and using our other freezer for anything I need to store long term.

Glider food is still an experiment around here. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and it seems that there are many theories on how to properly feed them, but three basic diets that most glider people recommend. The first is the BML diet. It’s a modified version of a zoo diet. My boys were on this diet when I got them, but it is kind of a pain. It uses many ingredients, and they are all very specific and you aren’t supposed to substitute any of them. I have yet to be able to find Gerber Mixed Fruit Baby juice anywhere. Every place within a 20 minute drive has been sold out, and Amazon wants about $40 for 4 bottles of it. I’ve been making it and substituting a mix of Gerber Apple and Pear juices, not perfect, but not sure what else to do.

The next diet is a brand called Critter Love. They make a powdered formula that can just be mixed with water and fed. MUCH easier than the BML, but it also has very specific salads that you are supposed to serve with the liquid blend, and my boys don’t seem to really like the liquid all that much.

The next diet is pellet based, Pet-Pro brand  Happy Glider pellets. I think this is going to be my choice of diets. The pellets come in about 6 different flavors, and the boys have been eating it pretty well for the last couple of days. The pellets get fed with one fruit or veggie per night. Once a week you substitute yogurt instead of a fresh food, and twice a month they get protein such as chicken or egg with the pellets. I like the simplicity of this diet, and not feeding a messy liquid is also a bonus.

This is a picture of my pellet experiment. I made a bowl with the same amount of pellets in each of the six different flavors to see which they ate the best. The first night, they ate most of the Honey Peach pellets (green bowl), and barely touched the fruity pellets in the red bowl. Blue bowl was the Chicken flavor and they ate that one pretty well too. My plan was to refill bowls and change locations of the bowls for a couple of nights to see if it was bowl location or flavors that they were actually preferring.

Last night was night #2 of my experiment. I forgot to get a picture, but basically the boys spilled all the bowls everywhere. There was no way to tell what they ate. So much for my experiment!

It might not be the most recommended thing, but since I have so many BML ingredients and a big pouch of Critter Love powder, I’m rotating between all three diets right now. It gives me a feel for what they eat and what is working for me. As I run out of ingredients, I’ll transition to the pellet diet fully.

The other experiment with the gliders is figuring out best cleaning practices. I started out using giant pieces of paper on the bottom of the cage like I do for Hector D. Byrd, but it was a bit smelly. I bought some custom made fleece cage liners from Tootles Original Suggie Shack on Facebook, and they are really nice! They definitely seem to help with the smell, and I have been easily going 3-4 days before I switch it out. They are also easy to wash, I shake them off outside and then wash them with my other fleece Suggie things, like their pouches. I’m still going back and forth on advantages of fleece over paper. It is nice to be able to change the paper and just throw it away, and I buy the big craft paper rolls for Hector any way. Unless… I wonder how a fleece cage liner would work for Hector? Then I would be creating a lot less waste without using a paper liner.  I might have to experiment!

The gliders still don’t seem to like me much. I keep reading amazing stories about people who keep their gliders in the hoodie all day, or in a pocket. Mine definitely haven’t bonded to me yet, but I’m working on it. Many people recommend getting a bed tent to put on the floor and sit in it with the gliders. I haven’t wanted to spend the money yet, so I’ve been bringing them in the shower stall to let them climb around with me. They seem to be spending a bit more time with me when I do that. Patience is key here I’m sure.

A few of the pets had a nice nap together the other day. Today the house is chilly, so everyone has found their own spots to cuddle up. The gliders are all snuggled on top of each other as usual, Wena is under her basking light, and Hector is currently remodeling some cardboard boxes. Bean looks pretty cozy.

So Much Fun And A Little Education Interrupted By Bean!

Bean only looks like he is sleeping. He’s really waiting for a chance to cause trouble!

I had such a fun morning! A friend asked me to speak to her kindergarten class about all my pets this morning. I was a little nervous about it. It was virtual of course, but video and photos make me very self conscious. I like to hide behind the camera, but being able to talk about my passion made it all worth while!

We started the session with technical issues. When we tested the Team meeting last week, I did it from my laptop and everything went well. I don’t know why, but today I had decided to use my regular computer. My video wasn’t working for some reason. I quickly signed out and grabbed my laptop. I knew that worked! We chatted while a couple of the kids figured out their own technical issues, then it was time for the class to meet the pets.

Trying to decide how to handle and show all the different pets wasn’t easy. I ended up with Hector on a stand next to my desk, and Wena, and the glider boys were just in their cages, but of course right near my desk as always.

A cup of feathers was the first thing I showed on camera. The kids got all excited when they saw Hector’s pretty red feathers in the cup. Hector let me pick her up and she sat calmly on my hand for the whole time I talked about her. She waved to the kids when I asked her to, and she demonstrated how she can crack a nut shell with her beak. She was pretty lazy about it, and opened one side of the shell and ate out the meat, but she tried! We talked about how old she was, how much care parrots need, what she eats, where she sleeps, and what she says. Hector was so good. Bribing with nuts and bananas worked! She stayed calmly on my hand and seemed to enjoy watching all the kids faces on the screen. She was turning her head and looking at them as we all talked.

Bean interrupted. He wanted to swat at poor Hector’s tail feathers. Hector went back on her stand, and she actually sat there quietly watching everything for the whole call.

Next up was the dragon. Wena did great. I was able to hold her up close to the camera so the kids could get a good look at her. We talked about hibernation versus brumation, how old she was, what she eats, where she lives. I tried to get her to eat a worm for them, but it was tough to hold her and the worm and keep them close enough to the camera for the kids to see. One of the kids asked me if she was a REAL dragon. I told him she must be because it was in her name!

Bean interrupted. He was trying to get the dragon’s tail. My daughter had to come grab him and get him out of the room!

The gliders were a bit of a question to me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to present a nocturnal animal that likes to hide in a pouch on camera. Amazingly, it all worked out! The pouch makes them very portable. Just unhook it from the cage, and easy to transport. The whole pouch was easy to hold up in front of the camera. The boys did a bunch of crabbing when I first took them out which was perfect! The kids couldn’t believe the weird crabbing noise was coming from them!

Bean interrupted and jumped on my desk. I almost dropped the pouch of gliders!

We had a lot of fun trying to guess what was in the pouch making the weird noises! Eventually, with offered treats, a couple of the boys poked their heads out to grab one. One of them even climbed out onto me. I was excited they came out and the kids got a good look at them, but less excited when he peed on my laptop! Thankfully I was able to move him quickly and he mostly peed on the floor. The kids loved their names. They kept saying “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo!” and laughing. They could see how the gliders all look very similar so I started telling them how Mo had a white face, and sure enough, Mo popped out to say hello, well to get a treat, but whatever, it worked.

No one knew what a sugar glider was, but a couple guessed that they were squirrels. We talked about marsupials and pouches and kangaroos. One boy asked what they like to do when they wake up from sleeping all day. They wake up, go to the bathroom (lots of giggles), they find a snack, then they play!

All the kids were really engaged. It was hard to keep up with all of their questions. Other than one little boy who really wanted to tell me about his three cats, they all actually asked questions about the animals and seemed to generally be interested. At some point, mention was made about each of these animals being rescued. It’s super important to me to always let kids know how my pets came to me because they needed new homes.

We ended with random questions about any of the pets. Some of the kids told me about their pets. Hopefully I will get a chance to do this again for other classes one day.

Today reminded me, a few years ago I volunteered at a local animal shelter doing humane education. It was awesome! I loved doing it and I’m not really sure why I stopped. One of the managers at the shelter had a 3-legged golden retriever rescue that they let us use for Humane Education. He was great! I remember bringing him to a preschool and teaching the kids about how to safely approach and handle a dog. Maybe once this crazy pandemic is under control I can go back to doing that again!

Water Fountains and Gliders

It’s Puck. This cat knows how to snuggle himself up!

The gliders are doing well. Their food is tricky. I’m currently feeding them what the rescue recommended, a diet called BML – Bourbon’s Modified Leadbeaters. I think it started as a zoo diet and was modified for pet use. It is different types of baby food, hard boiled egg, fruit, honey, etc. It’s messy and requires a lot of ingredients, some of which have proven hard to find like Gerber Mixed Fruit Baby Juice. The bigger problem is that the gliders don’t seem to eat it very well. I’ve been messaging with some experienced Glider owners I found on Facebook, and I think I’m going to switch them to another diet called CritterLove. It’s a powder. You mix it with water, and serve it with fruits and veggies. We’ll see how it goes. The problem is that gliders in the wild eat nectar and honey, insects, leaves, berries. Not all of it is easy to replicate and in the right combinations in captivity. I did learn that in the wild Sugar Gliders only have a life expectancy of 4-5 years. In captivity, I’ve been told they live an average of 12 years!

Reading more and more about gliders, I’m learning that they can be really tough to get along with. I see stories of people getting bitten all the time. I guess I’m really lucky with the boys I adopted. They don’t love me yet, but they tolerate me. I can take their pouch of of the cage and stick my hand in to pat them without fear of bites. They crab and complain sometimes, but that’s the worst of it.

I think little Tiny Miney is starting to trust me. More than others, he will climb onto my hand when I open the cage. He will hang out on my hand and eat a treat while I pat him. Each day that goes by, he hangs out with me a little longer before he choses to go back to his cage. I know a Mom shouldn’t pick favorites, but this little guy is definitely stealing my heart.

All four of them sleep on top of each other in a pile in one of their fleece pouches. I guess it is a good way to keep warm! So the gliders overall are doing really well. I’m enjoying learning more about them, and they are settling down.

Update on this WoPet fountain I purchased, I returned it. I really liked it to start. It was easy to clean, and the pets were definitely attracted to it. After a week or two, I started having more problems. The pets were drinking so much, which is a good thing, but I was having to fill it every day, sometimes twice! While the base looks like it holds a good amount of water, the pump stops working when the water level gets down to about half. With the very shallow bowl on this, when the pump stops working, there is very little water available for the pets.

While trying to figure out a way around refilling all the time, I started having another problem, the bowl seemed to be leaking. I don’t know how. I took it apart, cleaned the filters, I have no idea how it could possibly be leaking, but it was, and not a little. I was putting towels on the floor under the bowl and they were totally soaked. When looking the bowl up on Amazon, I realized my return window was still open, so I just packed it up and shipped it back. I’m back to using my ceramic fountain. No leaks, plenty of water, the pets are happy. My quest for a stainless steel fountain continues!

Gliders Week 1

 

The boys are definitely taking their time getting settled here. They are still pretty timid and I wouldn’t exactly say I can handle them. I can pat them. I’ve been trying to spend time with them, but also give them time to adjust to being here.

This week, they have been out of their cage at least once a day. A couple of days when I had the time, I brought them up to my bathroom, closed the door, and patted them, fed them treats, and tried to convince them to come out of their pouch.

Some days I just bring them with me in one of their fleece pouches while I watch TV and pat them. They are so soft! I’m trying to get them used to my smell.

Today I tried something a little different. I brought them upstairs into my shower stall. It’s a big double shower stall with glass doors. Seemed like an easy place to clean up. The boys pee and poop A LOT! It also seemed like a pretty safe place to play with them where they couldn’t escape me.

I  used some treats to lure them out of their pouch, and then I put the pouch out of the way. The boys were a little bit panicked, but they mostly stayed close to me. I finally got to see what amazing climbers they really are. One climbed up our shampoo shelf.

Another amazed me by climbing up the tube for the shower attachment all the way to the shower head!

 

Making his way up the shower head

 

 

Trying to figure out his next move

The one on the shampoo rack ended up leaping and landing on my head. I guess it’s good he wanted to come back to me?

I was afraid of where the one on the shower head might try to go, so I got him down before he could get into trouble.

The boys got lots of treats, and they climbed all over.

Mo with a yoggie

When all four are out, I’m definitely getting better at telling them apart.

Meanie and Mo

Our “shower” time needed to be short. I didn’t want to scare the boys. After about 10 minutes, I gave them back their pouch and they all cuddled back up. It makes it really easy to carry them around the house! Shower clean up and a shower for me took longer than the time I got to spend with the boys!

Miney was barking again when we were watching TV tonight. I’m not sure why, he did have food tonight. He is so little compared to the others!

They are definitely getting more comfortable in their cage. I’ve seen them jump from the side cage bars onto a fleece pouch a few times now, and they don’t climb around the cage corners anymore, they jump. I look forward to the day when they want to climb on me more!

Gliders Day 1 – Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo!

We are definitely getting to know each other. I’m trying to balance spending time with them, and giving them some peace to adjust to their new home. It’s hard!

I had them in a towel in my lap for a little while last night. They let me pat them, and they only “crabbed” at me a couple of times. I am going to have to get a video of the crabbing noise. It’s kind of a whiny complaint. It’s amazingly loud for such a small creature.

I left them alone this morning, but took them out this afternoon. They were all sleeping on top of each other in a pouch, so I was able to take the pouch out of the cage with all of them at once.  I brought them up to my bathroom and closed the door to see if they wanted to explore a bit. They crawled in my lap a bit, and one climbed up to my shoulder and ran down my back and back up to the other shoulder! I only kept them out for about 10 minutes.

Two of them spent a little time in the bonding pouch that I carried around for a bit. Apparently sugar gliders are very scent oriented, so it’s important for them to get used to your scent.

I took them out a couple of other times, always for short periods. It’s still hard to tell them apart, but when I have all four together I’m starting to see differences. One has a white face. One is much smaller than the others, and one is bigger.

Oh! names! They are Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo! Mo is the one with the white face. Miney is the tiny one. Haven’t decided which is which with the other two yet.

I have to say they are fascinating little creatures. Unlike any other pet I’ve had, but I’ve never had a marsupial as a pet before! Gliders have opposable thumbs on all four of their little hands. When I hold them, I can feel them holding on with little hands. I’ve watched them pick up treats and hold them in their little hands as they munch. So cute!

The boys are about 4 years old. I got them from a glider rescue. Life span of gliders in captivity is 12-15 years. Their food is really interesting. I’ll write more about it next time.