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#22706 - 06/21/04 10:28 AM Self Mutilation or not?
Srlb Offline
Glideritis Anonymous

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 16758
Loc: St. Johns, Florida
Now that I have your attention I would like to open this thread about what causes SM and the likely hood of one going through this.

Bourbon, Charlie & Mary, I am hoping that you will be some of the main people to join this thread.
The reason for me opening this, is due to the remarks that have been thrown around lately by several of the members and really becoming *paranoid* so to speak about Self Mutilation.

Yes, SM is a VERY DANGEROUS thing and when the SIGNS are there that your glider has the potential for it taking place it should not be taken lightly or be overlooked.

However, to keep throwing the condition around in every case that is being brought up is much like a child calling wolf and than when the wolf actually comes, nobody listens.

How many cases have there been of SM because of a glider being alone or because he doesnt have enough out of cage time? This is a couple questions I really dont have the answer for so I am in hopes that someone with the knowledge (Charlie, Mary or Bourbon are the first to come to mind) will answer for me.

I dont think that new sugar glider owners should be told that just because they have a lone glider it is going to cause self mutilation. There is a whole area at Bourbons Site about SM. It lists causes, symptoms, and what to do and what not to do there. It has many different stories as well.

So I guess in the long wrong what I am asking, is could the people who are not anywhere near familiar with SM, stop telling people that their glider has the chance of becoming a self mutilator without the glider showing cause or concern for it.
Otherwise, people are going to start putting e-collars on these poor little guys/gals for no reason which will also cause undue stress.

If I am wrong about this than please, someone WITH SM experience, please tell me so.
I would just hate to see people hear the threat of SM so often that when it comes down to a case where that is actually taking place, it is not taken seriously and we have another dead glider on our hands.
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#22707 - 06/21/04 11:34 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]
Critter Creations Offline
Glider Addict

Registered: 11/02/00
Posts: 3398
Loc: Rock Falls, IL, USA
I totally agree that SM is being thrown around a bit too much here recently as well and it has me worried too. However, there are quite a few gliders that are alone that for some reason once they hit sexual maturity (mostly males) begin to self mutilate. No one really knows why this happens in these males. I for one feel it may be sexual frustration. You have to remember though that compared to the glider population these cases are pretty rare. So just because someones glider is alone or doesn't get enough out of cage time doesn't mean your glider is going to self mutilate. It is something to always be on the look out for no matter who you are, but there are certain situations where you should watch a little closer and those are if you have a hand pulled joey, if your glider is in a galvanized wire cage (due to UTI's), if your glider has giardia or another parasite and it goes untreated for a while, and there are probably more that I am not as well aware of so I am not going to go into them, but Mary or Bourbon may be able to. Now even with the things I've mentioned does not mean your glider is going to SM it just means there is a higher risk of it than if those things aren't present. I really don't know what else to say on this subject at this time. Bourbon if I am wrong about anything please correct me, but I tried to stay to things that I knew about. This post could really be very informative so I suggest that everyone read every post on here that they can. SM is something to be aware of, but not so hyper aware that we freak out about it in every situation.
owned by 4 dogs and 2 gliders really soon
Formerly known as K & D Exotics

#22708 - 06/21/04 11:33 PM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/littleglider.gif" alt="" /> [:"magenta"]to begin with, please allow me to apologize if i have upset or frightened anyone with my paranoia about sm. i realize that i may be overly worried about it, as it scares me to death. i also realize that i have virtually no experience with sgs, but am relying on research alone. i did not mean to "cry wolf." however, i did not see what harm it could do to be prepared. and i feel that it is much better to have the ecollar and not need it, than to need it and not have it. i liked to think that my posts helped more than they hurt, but i guess i was wrong. i will try not to post on the board anymore. i am sorry i did more harm than good. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/upset.gif" alt="" /> [/]

#22709 - 06/22/04 02:56 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />
Fist Charlesex, <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug2.gif" alt="" /> I don't think you should stop posting at all. We are here together to learn. Yes, SM is a scary thing and it does happen sometimes. It can happen for any of the reasons given in the above posts. You were just letting someone know to be watchfull and didn't intend to do anything wrong. If no one posts here, who will help the people that are new to gliders and are looking for information. I hope you will reconsider and look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.
Now, that said, I agree that being prepaired is important, and Burbon has listed people with SM experience on her page. If amyone who thinks their glider is a SM, first thing to do is follow their direction, call and speak to someone who can give you direction, and fill out the information survay. I know Mary and Charlie well, and Mary is the only person I know who welcomes my calls and questions no matter what time of day or night. I am so glad I will be attending the SSGA this year to hear Mary speak on SM, and share all her experience with us. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yelclap.gif" alt="" />

#22710 - 06/22/04 03:49 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]
Xfilefan Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 8899
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
Having a SM glider myself, I'd like to offer this-first, that Self-Mutilation is a relatively rare occurrence. HOWEVER-although exact causes are unknown, and seem to vary, it is fatal if no collar is on and testing/treatment provided. It IS accompanied by a VERY unique sound that is very unlike any other sound a glider makes-which is one of the tell-tale signs of a mutilator. This sound usually starts minutes to hours before the glider begins to chew on itself. If a glider is using its teeth on its own body in a manner other than grooming, i.e. chewing as if in pain or trying to get at something you can't see, causing redness, irritation, bleeding, etc. a collar needs to go on BEFORE the glider can chew a hole or tear up a limb, cloacal area, penis (in males) or kill the tissue. It isn't something normally done by a normal glider in response to regular stresses, but an extreme reaction in some in response to any number of different triggers and we don't know why. If a glider is causing visible damage to itself (even if just redness/irritation) it could lead to SM if not diagnosed/treated extremely fast, even if not at that point yet, and a collar should go on. If the SM sound (kind of a unique, painful sounding crab/hiss) is present, if a collar is not put on right away the glider can chew a hole in its own body bad enough to kill itself within as little as 1-3 hours (In essence, committing suicide). As far as I know, that sound is present with all the mutilators-I'm sure Bourbon or someone will correct me if that is not the case).
On the other hand, a collar for a day or two on a glider who is at risk or showing signs, even if not yet actively mutilating, will not cause long term damage while it is determined if the glider is actually damaging itself or ill. Once damage is done, the chances for survival drop dramatically, as do the chances of ever living collar free. I'm not advocating using a collar for every little symptom-but for those who seem to be causing (or trying to cause) physical damage to themselves it's much better to be safe than sorry.
This isn't something to be constantly worried about maybe happening-most will never have to deal with a SM glider. It IS, however, something to be aware of-not only the fact that it exists, but the signs, symptoms, and possible causes so that if you do end up faced with it, you'll know enough to consider it as a possiblility and take the steps needed before your glider is in critical condition and you and your vet are fighting to save its life in a crisis situation. That is a place none of us who've dealt with it want to see another have to go. By raising awareness of SM's existence and signs/symptoms, hopefully not as many suggies will chew holes in themselves and die before someone recognizes from the descriptions and is able to direct the owner to help. A collar put on temporarily as a precaution, and later found to be unnecessary is MUCH preferable to a wait and see where an hour later the glider is covered in blood and dead on the way to the vet. Again, what we need to be aware of is that if someone says, my glider is making a funny noise, and/or seems to be excessively licking/chewing on a specific area, attention needs to be paid at that point and a collar insisted on with a referral to the SM site.
I haven't personally seen whichever posts are mentioned above, but I do know of a couple which should have been referred to the SM site and weren't. If in doubt, poss. refer the owner in question to the site, and ask them to read and determine if any of the SM info/descriptions fits what their glider is doing, and go from there. Then they can say if it fits, or not, and we'll know better how to help.
To your other question, aloneness or lack of out of cage play time, I am not aware of this being related to SM in any of the cases I know of as a primary causative factor, though it seems to be related to overgrooming in some cases. Again, if I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

Hope this helped some. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.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

#22711 - 06/22/04 07:22 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]
Charlie H Offline
Glider Slave

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 1659
Loc: Wallis Texas
I suppose the reason so much attention has been given to the self-mutilation of gliders is because it is so misunderstood. This is not something that is a common occurance any more than giardia, bacteria infections, viruses, HLP, etc. It is a rather dramatic thing to encounter and will scare the pants off anyone that has a glider the starts to mutilate. But the main thing is to go to the self mutilation site and read and understand the symptoms. Educate yourself and be prepared. Part of glider ownership is educating yourself on the different symptoms of glider illnesses. Having a first aid kit and being able to recognize changes in your gliders. Also having access to a good glider vet.

In response to gliders mutilating as a result of stress from lonliness. This is a possibality and one that I highly suspect is a major factor. We currently have a male glider that I suspect started to mutilate as a result of lonliness. He was alone but very bonded to his owner. The owner had to go away for three weeks and the glider was left to be cared by for someone else. When the lady returned home the glider was prolapsed and had severly mutilated his tail. We took the glider in. All tests showed up to be negative. We had to have the tips of his penis amputated, neutered him, and amputated his tail. He now seems to be doing well and tomorrow we are going to remove his collar. Hopefully for good. It is my opinion that stress brought about this situation.

About a year ago we got in a similar glider only he had done much more damage. He was also a lone glider that was bonded with his owner. This lady also had to go away for a few days and leave the glider in someone else's care. When she returned the glider had started mutilating.

I would like to add that there are other similarities in these two gliders:
1.Both were mature males.
2.Both were bonded with female owners.
3.Both were on poor diets.
4.Both were in inadequate housing (cages)
5.Both were left by the person they were bonded with.
6.Neither were allowed out of cage time during the persons
7.Both gliders were lone gliders without cagemates.
8.All tests for illnesses and parasites showed up negative.
9.Both of these gliders had been in mutliple homes when younger.
My guess is that stress from lonliness or a feeling of insecurity is what caused the mutilation in both of these gliders.

As stated earlier, there is not an epidemic going around. When we discuss self mutilation, we are simply trying to understand what causes it. In many cases we know but there are certain ones that we can not figure out the cause. We do not want to underplay the importance of learning about what to do if your glider starts to mutilate, but we also do not want to cause people to think this is a common occurence.
Charlie H
Rescue & Rehabilation

#22712 - 06/22/04 10:24 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]
Bourbon Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 04/01/99
Posts: 5333
Loc: Bee-Bopping round SnakePit USA
It's great, there is actually very little for me to add, as everyone has done exceptionally well.

Let me add my soapbox post though as I have seen both ends of the coin, charlesex, not just you but others as well as well as other boards.

As ALL had said , being prepared can not be stressed enough on this, although the causes, as stated on the sm site is virtually unknown, hopefully we are opening more and more doors. we do have several cases now out of the collar, and that was due to much experimentation and long hours, but also due to the fact, they got the help they needed before major damage was done.

This is our realistic goal for this year, to make people aware of the symptoms, and to get the collar on, before damage is done. to educate the community and give these guys more than a fighting chance.

as you can tell, this is not something that just affects the males, we are currently working with a female whose tests also have come back negative.

The biggest problem we are having, is that getting the collar on is a very difficult thing if never done before, and this takes many hours to get it right, after a little practice it gets easier and can be done effortlessly. and to be honest with you, it is harder, when you have to fear the glider biting a hole in itself before you can get it on. The adrenaline is pumping hard and frustration easily kicks in.

you don't see too many of the sm community come onto the boards answering many of the other grey posts, (listed below) but when a sm is suspected, stress is placed on the e-collar and it is stressed by many. the key thing to all this IS the education,

know the common symptoms,

as X-file Fan had stated, the sound is unmistakeable. This is probaly one of the biggest signs that send chills up our spine. when the owner hears it, they KNOW something is wrong. This is not the time to ask them to describe the sound or go into more detail. when they say it is horrible, scarey, a cross between 2 sounds. they could use a lot of combinations to try to describe it. this is where the experience comes in and the education kicks in. With their posts, they also say things like rolling in a ball, contantly licking, swollen cloacal area, but the sound is always mentioned.

We have a great phone network system that really gets things done amoung the sm community, so the questionairres are very important. it saves us time of asking a million questions, it has the contacts for us to get ahold of them, and we can tell then whether it is a true sm or not. This is very important especially the contact info, when someone sees an sm, we have no way to contact them, and many times we have to wait till they get back on line. This sometimes can be fatal.

One thing we do try to stress to everyone is what we don't know.. LOL which may seem like a lot, but more and more we are learning common grounds, and it is those common grounds that when associated with the sound posts, lets us know these are high risk gliders.

some of the common grounds, that we have found amoung most of the sm's although listed on the sm site.

as Danielle, Charlie and X-file fan mentioned some that they know about, there are others, and sadly sometimes we can not get the histories.

Some of these things we try to get the owners to change, as a preventative/precaution


hand-pulled and rejected Joeys, these are gliders for some reason was weaned early., pet shop gliders (we don't know the history of many of these.)

Galvanized wire cages, or other metal cages or bare metal in the cage (could be shelves, nestboxes, houses etc.)

Rough items in the cage, cholla blocks, sandpaper in the wheels, the concrete perches, rough edges on nest boxs (we have them do a cotton ball tests), running through the cage, and being sure there isn't any rough or sharp edges.

it almost always happens at the onset of puberty, between the ages of 7 months OOP and 2 years or when introduced but not kept with a glider of the oppposite sex.

Most are lone gliders, but not all of them are. A few has been with cagemates.

The key thing is that like all human are mammals, doesn't mean that all mammals are humans. the same holds true for all of the common grounds, just because these are the most common grounds for sm's, doesn't mean that all gliders with those common grounds are sm's

we have many many theroys, and some of us feel in our own hearts the reasons/causes for this, just as Danielle, and Charlie feel in their heart this is from being a lone glider, I also have my own set of theroys. I personally think it is a defect in the hormones or reproductive area. others still have their own personal theroys. However I must say, that our minds all are not locked on "this is caused by this". We all know that each case is different, and the causes can be as varied as the gliders themselves.

we list on the sm site a list of all the theroys we have, had and has been suggested. It DOESN'T mean it is the cause, just a possibility.

Education is everything, when new owners want to research, add that to their bonding, diets etc..awareness has saved more and more of these gliders. Being prepared with that awareness will save many more.

I agree with everyone else here, and that it doesn't hurt to be on watch for it, on the other hand, that has to be a personal decision, those of us that have had,/have SM's, will tell you we are ALWAYS on the look out, even if the collar is off, we are always on guard for yet another setback. Every rescue that comes into our home keeps us up jumping for that sound. even those of us that are experienced, can't look at a glider, take it's history and assume it is a sm. The sound lets us KNOW.

One of the biggest confusions we get is the constipation with the sm's.

When a glider is constipated, it will make a hissing sound, when it is an sm, that hissing sound is VERY VERY different. when a glider is constipated sometimes the cloacal area is swelled and red. This does not mean it is an SM.

so as you can see some areas can be very confusing, and if you are confused when you see a post, just send the link to one of us in the sm community, if we feel it is an sm, we will address it. and we will try to help explain it to you as to whether or not there is reason for concern. Obviously we may not answer each one, but you may see a post by one of us addressing it.

Another grey area that is getting confused is the penis's that do not retract. Again there are some grey areas here, before a glider reaches puberity, they may have their penis out a lot, but the key thing is to
1. watch to see how long it has been out.
2. Watch to see if it ever goes back in.
3. watch to see that it stays moist and red.

again the hair raising sign is making the sound, the rolling in a ball, and the over licking/ chewing.

these are the most common areas, where things get confused, and the most common areas that is noticed the most.
Baybe,My Roots




Sugar Glider Genetic Project


#22713 - 06/22/04 11:52 AM Re: Self Mutilation or not? [Re: ]
Charlie H Offline
Glider Slave

Registered: 11/13/03
Posts: 1659
Loc: Wallis Texas
I did not mean to imply that lonliness is the cause of mutilation but that in the two cases I referred to lonliness seems to be a major factor. We got in one glider that was mutilating his toes as a result of the effects of HLP. Another that was mutilitating his tail due to an injury to his hips from a fall. There are several things that lead to self mutilation and every case seems to be different. Something as simple as an injury from a fight can cause a glider to self mutilate. The one that keeps us all wondering is when a glider mutilates at the cloacal area and we can't figure out why.
When we discuss self mutilation it is not meant to be a scare tactic but to make glider owners aware of the symptoms to watch for. And to impress upon them that quick action is necessary. All gliders that become constipated or prolapsed do not become mutilators, but a red flag should go up when one develops either of these conditions. The owner should treat the condition with the help of a vet but should also moniter their glider for any indication that it is starting to mutilate. These are simply some precautionary measures to take and all owners should learn as much as they can about recognizing symptoms of any illness in their gliders.
Charlie H

Edited by Charlie H (06/22/04 11:55 AM)
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