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#2188 - 03/16/01 09:46 AM A survival story called.....

Surviving Incredible Stupidity! Although this happened some time ago, and I'm still ashamed to tell it, just felt I should because the Glider is the heroine. Pardon the length, please.<BR> Introduction<BR> In May of 1998 we purchased my first three Sugar Gliders from a filthy pet store at a market square in downtown Manila, Philippines. We had just arrived there a few days before as my husband was starting a job there. It was my first time as an 'empty nester' so he wisely decided I needed something to take care of. We would be living in a 'lock down' camp, for our security. We went there to get a bird, but knew it would be very difficult to bring a bird home with me. <BR> In a back corner I spotted a rabbit sized wire cage with this mass of undulating fur inside. On investigation I found there were about 40 very pathetic looking little furballs in there. They had urine and feces on their food (a lump of rice and a half a mango), and had no water. The active ones were desparately searching for an escape, others were hunched over with ears drooping, bodies weaving from side to side, and many had bald spots and open wounds from fighting. Others were being chased and tomented. The whole store was depressing, but seeing this broke my heart! I didn't even know for sure what they were, but it didn't matter, no animal should suffer like that. The owner told me they were Sugar Gliders. She said she bred them (I didn't believe it). <BR> I decided right then I would try to rescue some of them. I wished I could have bought them all, but there was just no way. I came back to the hotel, got online, and found Glider Central. It was my first visit. I read as much as I could in one sitting, and decided I could do this. We went back the next day and bought three, two girls and a boy(although I wasn't sure of this at the time). Cat food was an approved diet then, so I looked all over Manila for a pet store that sold it. The next day we all left Manila for the six hour drive to our new home. <BR> When we arrived at our new home (a modified sea container), I chose the spare bedroom and made it theirs. I quickly discovered I had no phone, no LAN for the internet, and no cable TV, contrary to what I was expecting. It was all "coming". For twelve weeks I had no access to any information about these guys, and they lived on cat food, water, and mango. I didn't know if they would breed in captivity, that they could be very bonded to people, or even about their diet, except what I could recall from that first reading.<BR> What they did have was space, and my undivided attention. I spent hours in their room adding bamboo poles, landscaping net, rope, and building a nest box. At night I would spend hours just sitting in the room watching and learning their needs from them. They didn't live in a cage. I never tried to 'bond' with them. I just wanted them to become accoustomed to my presence, but be essentially 'wild' in their behavior. I was eventually rewarded with so much more, of course! But that took some time. In the meantime I was content just trying to make a spacious, safe, and clean home for them. They were loved unconditionally.<BR> The Story<BR> After I got to know them, I named the boy Grumpy, his chosen mate Bashfull, and the other girl Happy. The names suited their personalities. I had rigged some bamboo poles about 5 ft. off the floor for their acrobatics. They loved this, but not only for its intended purpose. They discovered that the open ends made great hidey holes. At first this was OK, because the opening only went in about 6 inches. They would sleep there during the day. What I didn't know was that Grumpy, my biter, used his teeth for much more than punching holes in my finger and gnawing dry cat food.<BR>He was the consumate nest builder. He began scraping the little divisions between the bamboo sections, and within three days the opening was 14 inches deep, and they were all the way at the back! Of course this was not good enough for Grumpy, so he began working on the next section.<BR>I became concerned that they'd get in there and soffocate, because the bamboo was getting narrower the deeper they went.<BR> To prevent them from going farther I decided to get them out and block the holes. This was easier said than done. I'd had them about aweek, so they still were very much afraid of me, and would hide the moment the door opened. I was reluctant to frighten them more, but afraid for their safety. The bamboo had a slight crack in it through the first two sections, and with a flashlight I could see their position inside. First I tried to gradually push them out using a flat stick, putting it in the crack above them and slowly working it toward the end of the pole. They just crabbed, and climbed back over it. Then I rigged a coathanger to look like a paddle, with strapping tape wrapped around the wide part. I put it in flat, then turned it so the wide part was blocking the passage, and started working it toward the opening. This had limited success. I managed to move them a few inches away from the back, but they were frightened and dug in, forming an immovable mass. <BR> I had a little battery powered screwdriver/drill. I decide to hold them where they were by wrapping duct tape around the outside to hold the paddle, then put a wire baricade behind by drilling holes across from each other on the bamboo, pushing wires in, and bending them to keep them in place. This worked, so I tried moving them farther down the next day and making another wire screen. I moved them a few more inches, had drilled five of the six holes for the wire, and had just checked to make sure they were still out of range of the drill, in front of the barrier. I put the drill up and started it in. Suddenly I heard a muffled scream and a riot of crabbing. I feared the worst and I was right. When I pulled the drill bit out there was fur wrapped around it. I'd drilled one of my babies! I sreamed and my husband came running in. I told him what I'd done. He helped me cut off the sections they were in and use the crack in the side to pry the bamboo open and get them out so I could see how badly I'd hurt them. I was relieved to see they were all alive.<BR> They were more terrified than ever, now, and one was hurt. I couldn't get them to hold still long enough to get a good look, but I could see blood near Bashfull's back leg. I let them all go into their nest box and put them together in a small cage. I worried and waited for dark, put their food in and watched quietly for them to come out. When they finally did, I used the flahlight and could see that Bashfull had an open wound about 1/2 inch long and 1/8th inch wide on her side near her hip, I could see muscles, so I knew it had torn all the way through her skin. I was horrified at what I'd done! It was not bleeding any more, and she and the others had been grooming because there was no blood anywhere. I still had no internet or phone, so the best I could do was ask our camp doctor if he'd mind seeing an animal. He looked and agreed it needed sutures, but neither one of us had a clue how to anesthetize her. I had to settle for Neosporin and prayer. We were six hours and a traumatic road trip from the nearest vet, so that wouldn't do either, even if they'd known what a Sugar Glider was. <BR> We waited and watched. I kept them in the small cage for three days, but they were getting restless in confinement. I opened the cage door so they could come and go. I cleaned their bedding out everynight as they ate, cleaned their room every day with bleach, and left them undisturbed as much as possible. I watched for any sign she was fading, loss of appetite, swelling, infection, or not coming out with the others. Three days turned into three weeks. The wound was still open, but she showed no signs of weakening. We were dumbfounded! Then two weeks later she shocked both of us again. The gliders had (miraculously) started to trust me. I could open the nest box and they didn't panic any more. There they were...two beautiful joeys! I didn't even know she was pregnant. Can you imagine her surviving all that, cat food and mangos, my stupidity, and still keeping those joeys!? <BR> Well, then I was worried all over again. The wound was finally starting to close, but the joeys were all over her. I was hoping they didn't tear it open clinging to her. They didn't, and they grew up to be Little Spot and Sundace. TEN WEEKS after the accident the wound finally closed all the way. She still has a tiny scar..... and me. <P> (Definately not) THE END!<P><BR> Footnote: 1)For those of you who are wondering, I did want to notify the authorities about the conditions in the pet store, but a coworker of Rich's advised me that the government was so corrupt that legality is relative to how much cash you have on you. It would have done no good. The government raided all those stores about a year before we left, and confiscated many 'illegal' animals. A week before we left we were in Manila and went back to the store. It was 'business as usual', but her Gliders were in a back room out of sight, as well as the monkeys and endangered parrots. Sickening!<BR>2)Yes, I could have cut off the bamboo and gotten them out that way in the first place, but the drill made little noise compared to the saw, and the bamboo tube amplifies sound. I was trying to spare them any more trauma. Obviously, I didn't. I also didn't give them enough credit for their intelligence. They would not have suffocated if I had let them continue up the tube. 'Live and learn', and pray you don't kill something in the process.<BR>

#2189 - 03/24/01 09:55 PM Re: A survival story called..... [Re: ]

Linda,<BR>That's a beautiful and tragic story all at the same time. I see now how and why you are so bonded to your gliders!<P>My husband Marvin, Oldcolt 58, e-mailed you back at the time you had e-mailed both him and me and let you know that we would glidersit in an Emergency. They are even more special to me now that we know your story with them. <P>Do you think if you gave the "so-called breeder" info that she might have changed her ways. I know it would be too late now that you're in the U.S. now.<P>Take Care!<P>Love ya, Tessa~~~~~~~ [][/]

#2190 - 04/06/01 06:30 PM Re: A survival story called..... [Re: ]

and i thought i had problems with my, thats amazing, ur gliders are fighters! (and no, i didn't mean for that to rhyme...) =)

#2191 - 04/19/01 02:34 PM Re: A survival story called..... [Re: ]

I'm glad they're all right! That's awful about the petstore! I hope that NEVER happens to me!!! [][/]<P>------------------<BR>Gliderlover2

#2192 - 08/13/01 11:24 PM Re: A survival story called..... [Re: ]

Wow! I don't know how I missed this story before!! Thats an amazing story.<P>Thank you so much for sharing it. It was really greta meeting you at the SGGA....I wish I had met your amazing gliders. I hope you bring them again next year and that i get to visit with them!<P>Mary [][/]

#2193 - 08/20/01 01:07 AM Re: A survival story called..... [Re: ]

yeah tottaly understand about the pet store. Pet stores seem to be alot different in different countries, unlike here and the U.S. When I was in Japan, I went in to a pet store, it was so long ago, I hardly remenber. well I went in to a pet store, and they had chipmunks, 2 of them, they are the size as a sugar glider, and had a little room, but it was still nothing for them, they were running around like crazy, I had never seen one before this, only on cartoons, I felt sorry for them. but I felt even more sorry for the Squril. he/she was bigger and in a smaller cage, and he was running around the cage doing back flips over- and over- and over.<P>now I grew up with squrils being wiled. always running up trees wile you walk down the street. and I can see how they would make a good pet in a small miniour way, because I had a gray one named Billy, who would come to my appartment everyday to get penuts from me. but I could never have one as a pet, because he almost riped off my fingure many times, not even meaning to.<P>so yeah, we cant save every animal in the world, but even taking them 3 gliders is making a small differents. after seeing them chipmuks I kindof wanted one. *grin*


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