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#19695 - 04/09/04 10:03 AM Living with Bone Density Problems
Anonymous
Unregistered


Sugar Glider Fans:

We have two male sugar gliders, Ren and Stempy. They are both about 5 years old,and we got them as babies together. We are often up late into the night so we get to see them and they are used to us and to being held although they spend most of their time in their cage for their own safety (we have other pets that could hurt them!)

We are having a health problem with Stempy, who developed bone mass and muscle weakness last fall. The vet diagnosed this as a diet deficiency which we now know to be a common problem for these little guys. We've supplemented their diets and have been giving the neocalc supplement from our vet, but Stempy has not made much progress. Ren loves mealworms, wax worms and freeze-dried crickets--basically anything we will feed him. Stumpy will eat a freeze-fried cricket if he has to but he doesn't care much for the live bugs. They both like yogurt and we give it to them often.

They live in a large cage, 2 feet deep, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. The cage has many shelves, a large rope that traverses the middle of the cage, several hiding nests and bags, a nesting box, and dowels that lead from the nesting box to the shelf with food and water. This has been great for them until Stempy developed the weakness in his hind legs last fall, and last week he fell from the food shelf and broke his arm.

We took him to the vet right away and had a splint put on his little arm, which is doing great--Stempy is such a sweetie and makes a good patient. They took an x-ray and we discovered that his bones are not very dense and have become very fragile. We've separated the boys and are keeping Stempy in a small carrier to limit his movement and help him heal. It will take 4-6 weeks to heal his tiny arm but he is doing very well and when his splint was replaced this morning the vet said it is looking good. He will stay on his daily calcium supplement for the rest of his life and we have a mild pain reliever that he will get once a day until his splint comes off.

But now we have a bigger problem: clearly this large cage is no longer suitable for Stempy. The chance that he will fall again is good--his back legs and muscles are weak and we don't expect too much change in this area. We want him and Ren to live together. Even though we let Ren "visit" the hospital cage, they miss each other and we want to return Stempy to their shared home when he is well.

How can we create a cage that fits Stempy's weak muscles and fragile bones and yet lets Ren continue to run free and fly around like he does? Anyone have any ideas for us?

Thanks for any feedback you may have.

Sus

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#19696 - 04/09/04 10:12 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


I'm so sorry for your baby...you are doing a great job... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" />

I would say that you could probably get a cage that is longer than it is high, but still has a lot of room. You could also put bedding, such as carefresh, on the bottom to cushion any falls. I hope this helps!!! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/heartpump.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/heartpump.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" />

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#19697 - 04/09/04 11:13 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Oh gosh! I'm so sorry this is happening. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> Your vet is right, many gliders do have diet deficiencies. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/worried2.gif" alt="" />

My first bit of advice is to get these little ones on a good, balanced diet asap. You might be surprised how resilient they are. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/heartpump.gif" alt="" />

Personally, I feed my gliders BML (as a part of Bourbon's diet). I have three 6 year old gliders who I had x-rayed last month to check bone density, and all are perfect. You can learn more about glider nutrition HERE at the Sugar Glider Resource Center.

It may be worth looking into padding the bottom of your cage to soften any falls. Remember that padding will need to be changed out and washed daily and it will have to be something that little nails can't get snagged on (i.e. no towels)

Good luck with this baby! Let us know how he's doing! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/heartpump.gif" alt="" />

I'm sure you will get lots of suggestions. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" />

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#19698 - 04/09/04 11:43 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


A longer cage that isn't quite as high would probably be safer. Ren will miss climbing up high, though, so take him out for lots of playtime. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Another option I was thinking about was a cage with different floors... that way if he fell, he wouldn't fall far. And there would still be the height for them to play in.

They can recover from metabolic bone disease... I would also suggest the BML diet. Contact []bourbon@compu.net[/] for more help, she's rehabilitated quite a few gliders.

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#19699 - 04/09/04 12:23 PM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


I agree, contact Bourbon...she's really great and helpful in these kinds of situations. Another idea for the cage might be to get some fleece or if you have a T-shirt that is big enough, cut it to the same dimensions of the cage (2'x4'?) and attach it about a foot from the bottom of the cage, kind of like a little trampoline. That way, if he falls, this will catch him instead of him hitting the floor. You will need to take it out and clean it daily though since food and waste will also be caught by it, so you might sew lanyard clips on the corners so that it can be easily attached/detached. Good luck with your baby...make sure and get him on a good diet with lots of calcium (like BML) and please talk to Bourbon.

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#19700 - 04/10/04 10:14 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks for the feedback! I am out of town (Stempy is with us so we can keep an eye on him and give him his meds) and will contact Bourbon when I get back tomorrow.

I had thought about the hammock, but was afraid it would launch him upward in an unknown direction but I guess if it is not too taut it would work. We have always kept about 2-3 inches of the recycled newspaper litter on the bottom as a cushion should either of them loose their grip and to absorb the food and droppings that fall but that wasn't enough for Stempy this time.

I may hang small hammock-type strips of cloth under the dowels, nesting box and the feeding shelf where Stempy spends most of his time these days, then put a large hammock across the bottom of the cage. If there is enough slack maybe it won't bounce either of them back into the air or against the sides of the cage.

When I get home I will post a photo of the boys and little Stempy with his splint. And I will definitely report back as to what cage modifications worked in case someone else ever has a similar problem.

Thanks again!

Sus

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#19701 - 04/10/04 03:52 PM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Lucy Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/14/01
Posts: 7354
Loc: Lexington, KY
This is an interesting question. I think the multi-floor or longer-than-wide cage option would be the answer, but you might have to have the cage specially built. Martin's cages will do that for you if you give them the specifications of what you want.

You'll want to maybe take your other glider out more often for individual play time, to make sure he gets the exercise time he needs to glide and run around.

I hope Stempy is better soon. You might be surprised once he is healed -- he may be able to grip better than you think.
_________________________


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#19702 - 04/12/04 02:12 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Bourbon Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 04/01/99
Posts: 5333
Loc: Bee-Bopping round SnakePit USA
you already actually have the cage, the question is do you have the room for it? take the cage you hav and turn it sideways, so it is only 2 foot high.. attach a wodent wheel, and allow him to exercise, as he feels.. call it physical therapy.

as for the calcium problem, I have no idea as to what you are feeding him, or how much or what kind of suppliments you are using. but also something to kep in mind, is that he also may have a bacterial infection, have the vet run a C&S to check on that. with a bacterial infection, it will also deplete his calcium, as well. the c&s will take 7 to 10 days to get back, but will identify the bacteria, as well as tell the vet which meds to give for it.
_________________________
Baybe,My Roots

SGGA

CustomCruiser

BML

Sugar Glider Genetic Project

321-331-1608

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#19703 - 04/12/04 05:19 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Charlie H Offline
Glider Slave

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 1659
Loc: Wallis Texas
It is possible for a glider to recover completely from HLP. It all depends on how advanced it was when you discovered it. sounds like it was in the earlier stages and with proper calcium suppliment, a complete recovery is possible. If in fact proper treatment was started before it affected his spine within a few weeks he will be back to normal. But you will need to always have a calcium suppliment added to their diet along with the proper vitamins. If the HLP advanced to a point that it caused a seperation of the spine, he can make a recovery and live a quality life but will never be totally normal in his motor skills.

We have a rescue glider that could not even use his back legs and had chewed the fingers off two of his feet. When we first got him he was kept in a special cage. He has now recovered to the point that he is in a regular cage with a female glider. His spine was seperated but fused back together and he has limited use of his back legs. Dosen't slow him down though. In his mind he is a normal glider except for the gliding. He dosen't attempt that. But he can climb like a little monkey even with his missing fingers and impared back legs.
Charlie H
_________________________
Rescue & Rehabilation
http://www.angelfire.com/tx/glidertree/
[]glidertree@toast.net[/]

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#19704 - 07/29/04 10:38 PM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thought I'd provide an update on Stempy. We kept him in a splint/cast for 10 weeks but his arm wasn't healing. The bone is too small to put a pin in it and each time they changed the splint, pressure was put on the arm and it was keeping it from fusing together.

The last time the splint was changed it was left on for 6 weeks (usually left on for only 2 weeks) and this time his arm was slightly healed when the splint came off. Looks like the bone is finally grafting together but not end to end as would be preferable. The only problem was he developed several contact sores and had skin infections at those points. After two weeks of oral and topical antibiotics, Stempy's sores have healed and the infection is gone.

While Stempy is still too fragile to return to his big cage with Ren, we let them visit often and have put together a series of cables and sticks that Stempy crawls across like an obstacle course when he's out exercising. The bone density problem appears to have stopped getting worse but about all we can do at this point is prevent additional damage with the twice daily calcium.

Ren and Stempy both refused to eat the BML diet, no matter how I served it or what I "iced" it with. After a month of fixing it and serving it and throwing it away, I finally gave up. I'd like to hear from someone who has been successful in getting their gliders to eat it. Stempy has started to eat mealworms but I have to cut them up before he will touch them.

I appreciate all the feeedback that was provided from the forum. You've got a good group of members who really care about these little guys.

Sus

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#19705 - 07/29/04 11:08 PM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Xfilefan Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 8899
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
My Riker had HLP when I got him over a year ago. I force fed him the BML with a syringe for several weeks (He wouldn't touch it no matter what either.) What complicated things was that he was in a collar for self-mutilation shortly thereafter. Finally, desperate to get the calcium in him without so much stress to him, I tried the HI calcium vanilla Ensure (listed under the diets as Darcy's diet). He loves it, and all of my gliders are healthy and happy on it (I have only one that will eat some BML). Although I would prefer the BML, and still try every few months, this might work for your little dude, and at least get needed vitamins/minerals/calcium down him.
You WILL need to add Repcal Phosphorus free calcium powder WITH D3 to this. I believe the amount is listed with the diet. Without the D3, your guy is going to have a next to impossible time trying to absorb the calcium. Foods high in phosphorus will also pull calcium and hinder it's absorption. Corn, turkey, chicken, beef, and insects are all very high in phosphorus - feed very sparingly while he's recovering-they'll negate the calcium drops. If necessary, mix the calcium w/D3 powder in a small amount of yogurt, and put it down him with a syringe daily-can't stress enough how important this is to his recovery, esp. the D3 added. Riker recovered and has no further problems from his HLP. Keep us updated on your little one and his progress! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Jen/Colin :bb: Commander Riker 12 16 02-10 04 12 you will be FOREVER missed :wfb: Sinbad, :wfb: Gabby, :grey: Baby, and :grey: Alley

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#19706 - 07/30/04 03:56 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Charlie H Offline
Glider Slave

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 1659
Loc: Wallis Texas
The Ensure High Calcium contains D3. There is no need to add any to it. Could do more harm than good. Add 3/8 tsp. of Jurassacal calcium to each can and mix it well. Give the glider one Tbs. daily.
Charlie H
_________________________
Rescue & Rehabilation
http://www.angelfire.com/tx/glidertree/
[]glidertree@toast.net[/]

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#19707 - 07/30/04 04:45 PM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Xfilefan Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 8899
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
Thank you, Charlie! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I should have included the distinction with the ensure and it slipped by me-sorry!
_________________________
Jen/Colin :bb: Commander Riker 12 16 02-10 04 12 you will be FOREVER missed :wfb: Sinbad, :wfb: Gabby, :grey: Baby, and :grey: Alley

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#19708 - 07/31/04 12:03 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Does anyone out there have any experience with biphosphonates to treat bone demineralization and/or HLP? Bisphosphonates such as Alendronate (brand name Fosamax®) help to lay down calcium in bone, and we use them in humans with osteoporosis. Obviously, calcium and Vitamin D3 play an important role in improving bone mineral content by increasing circulating calcium levels. But the bone mineral deficiency can be corrected faster with these meds. Just wondering if anyones veterinarian had ever recommended it?

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#19709 - 07/31/04 04:00 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Charlie H Offline
Glider Slave

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 1659
Loc: Wallis Texas
To my knowledge the treatment of choice by vets is the neo-calgluton given as a shot and followed up by oral treatments. I do not think it contains Vit D3. The recommendation for including D3 in the follow up diet comes mainly from the research done on the BML diet. Some vets shy away from including D3 in a calcium suppliment for gliders as they feel over time it will cause toxic build-up. From what I can find out this is only theory as no actual study has been done in this field on sugar gliders. Would be interesting to have a glider that has been on BML all of his life, after it's death, examinied for any adverse effects from D3.
Charlie H
_________________________
Rescue & Rehabilation
http://www.angelfire.com/tx/glidertree/
[]glidertree@toast.net[/]

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#19710 - 08/03/04 01:09 AM Re: Living with Bone Density Problems [Re: ]
Bourbon Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 04/01/99
Posts: 5333
Loc: Bee-Bopping round SnakePit USA
Suz , did you ever get a c&s run?, also what are you feeding him, I seen where you couldn't get him to eat the BML, but what are you feeding him, now and before?

also was there any bloodwork done on him?


did the vet take a full body xray and see if there may be a spinal injury as well?

did you set the cage sideways? the stress of not being with his cagemate may be slowing down his healing.. depression will do many things.
_________________________
Baybe,My Roots

SGGA

CustomCruiser

BML

Sugar Glider Genetic Project

321-331-1608

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