I have been trying to help quite a lot of people lately with neutering questions so I thought maybe it was time to start a thread on what I am finding to be the most FAQ. This information is being offered only based on my own research and experiences (Iíve had 28 gliders neutered to date). Please discuss all medical questions and concerns with your vet.

1. Why should I have my male neutered?

There are many reasons and benefits to having your male glider neutered.
a) To prevent joeys. This is especially important to prevent inbreeding, where males are housed with their sisters, mothers or dadís housed with their daughters.

b) Intact males living together, especially if there is a female in the house, even if not in the same cage, can and often will fight viciously, sometimes to the death. Intact males are often more aggressive with other gliders, especially other males due to dominance issues.

c) Neutering reduces the risk of testicular cancer (since the testicles are removed).

d) Neutering reduces the male hormones thus causing their head and chest scent glands to dry (stop producing the scent oils) reducing the ďsmellĒ of the gliders.

e) Neutering generally reduces the mating urge although some neutered males will still go though the act, not realizing they can not produce offspring. Reducing this urge is important especially in cases where the male has created mating wounds on the females in the past. Neutering will NOT guarantee that the male will not still try and will not guarantee that it will prevent future mating wounds.

f) In some cases, neutering will stop the cycle of self mutilating when the SM is hormone driven.

g) Many neutered males just make more sweet loving companions for their cage mates and humans.

2. At what age can gliders be neutered?

Some vets will neuter very early on but it seems the majority prefer to wait until the glider is at a certain age OR has reached a certain weight. The concern about weight has more to do with the administration of anesthesia and pain meds as those are usually calculated based on the weight of the glider.

3. How are gliders neutered?

There are several methods to neutering.

a) Removing the testicles and the scrotum.

This method generally requires the use of glue or stitches to close the incision and has both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is, testosterone is found both in the gonads and the scrotum. Removing the scrotum does further reduce the hormones present in the glider. This can be very important in cases of self mutilators where other causes beyond hormones have been ruled out. Reducing the hormone levels may or may not decrease the mating urge as well. One disadvantage is the use of glue or stitches increases the risk of post neuter self mutilation due to the glue or stitches being an irritant to the glider and him wanting to remove that irritant. Generally, proper pain management and possible use of an ecollar for 24-36 hours can prevent this type of post neuter SM. In some cases of cloacal SM, where neutering is indicated, it is recommended that the scrotum be removed to reduce the hormone levels and the risk of future cloacal SM.

b) Removing just the testicles, leaving the scrotum.

This method seems to be less invasive for the glider. An incision is made in the scrotum, the blood vessels are tied off or cauterized and the testicles are removed. Generally no external glue or stitches are needed as the incision will usually close on its own within 24 hours. The healing time seems to be less with this type of neutering. However, there is still a risk of post neuter SM and pain management is still needed.

Regardless whether or not the scrotum is removed, laser surgery is an option, although it can be expensive. Using a laser cauterizes the blood vessels and reduces any bleeding.

4. What are the odds of post neuter SM?

With more and more vets having neuter experience, the occurances of self mutilation have greatly decreased over the years. While you should always be prepared for the worst to happen, very few gliders experience post-neuter issues.

You need to be PREPARED and have an ecollar you know fits your glider and KNOW HOW TO PUT IT ON. Only the owner and vet can prevent a glider from SM'ing. Since the vets are not with the gliders every minute post neuter, it really is up to the owner to make sure the glider has proper pain management and is NOT able to reach himself to do any damage.

If you know there is the risk, know what to look for and know what to do, the risk of post neuter SM can be reduced down to less than 1%. But that depends on how the humans responsible for the glider take care of the glider post neuter.

You have to realize that while a glider may wake up from the anesthesia in minutes following surgery, it can take hours for the effects to fully and completly wear off. During this time is when the glider is most vulnerable. When gliders come out from anesthesia, they are disoriented and confused (just like many humans after surgery). They don't know what is going on and are often scared. Combine this with a source of pain (the surgery site) and they may feel they are being attacked and feel they HAVE to attack back. They will attack anything they can get their teeth on, including themselves. The more time that goes by post neuter, the less confused they are (as the anesthesia does wear off) and the lower the risk of post neuter SM becomes.

5. What can I do to prepare for possible post neuter SM?

a) One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to have an e-collar and KNOW how to use them BEFORE you have your glider neutered. Practice putting the collar on your glider before it is needed so that if/when the need is there, you will have a better understanding of how to put them on, how tight it needs to be and how to tell if your glider is breathing ok in the collar. Not all gliders will need an e-collar post neuter but it is best to be prepared and know what to do IF it is needed. Truth is, most vets donít have e-collars for gliders nor do many of them have any idea how to put one on properly. Make sure you have the proper size of e-collar as well. With a shot glass style e-collar (like the one Xfilefan makes) if the gliderís nose extends beyond the end of the e-collar, they can still chew and do damage. With the satellite dish style, the collar should extend anywhere from half an inch to one inch beyond their nose. Use of a satellite dish style should only be used with constant supervision as many gliders can still curl their body around and into the e-collar allowing them to reach their cloaca or incision site.

b) Discuss with your vet what method he/she uses and ask them WHY they do it that way. Some vets just donít realize there are other methods used successfully with gliders. Donít be afraid to voice your concerns about the different methods and discuss alternatives with your vet.

c) PAIN MANAGEMENT! Pain management is crucial. This can not be stressed enough. When gliders are in pain, they believe they are being attacked and will fight back. They will chew at the site of the pain which only makes it worse causing them to chew more. When a glider is coming out of the anesthesia, they are often disoriented and will sometimes (often) attack anything handy. I have had them bite at me, their feet, tails and cloacal area as well as their incision site. Again, not all gliders will need an e-collar post neuter but it is best to be prepared and know what to do IF it is needed. By using an e-collar and proper pain management, the risk of SM is greatly reduced. There are many options to pain management.

1) Bufranoraphine is a gel, a neuro-blocker that is placed behind the ear. It blocks the transmission of pain impulses to the brain. In effect, the brain never receives the message that anything was even done. This has a short lived effect of only about 2 hours. With many gliders though, that is often long enough.

2) Torbitol. This is a pain med that can be administered before the procedure begins or before the glider comes out of the anesthesia. This generally lasts for 4-6 hours but can be given more often IF needed and only on the advice of your vet.

3) Metacam. This is an anti-inflammatory medicine. If you do end up with a glider with an infection, or a torn incision and have to use it longer than 3 days, it's a good idea to switch to a narcotic pain killer instead of a non steroidal anti-inflammatory because of the risk to the liver.
It does have it purposes but there is a risk of organ damage in gliders and not a med that I will use.

The following is contributed by Xfilefan:
Butorphanol (also known as Bute but that's more in horse circles) and Torbuterol (Torb)-distinguished from the injectable form you listed, both are an oral narcotic painkiller that may be given about every 4 hours for several weeks if necessary without the associated kidney risks of a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID), which Metacam is. Butorphanol also comes in an injectable form, but usually for large animals-as far as I know. Benefits to the Butorphanol and Torbuterol over Metacam also is that Metacam shouldn't be given more than a maximum of twice a day, for 3 days, while the others can be given up to 4-6 times daily for better pain control. However, the narcotic painkillers do not have anti-inflammatory action, which is where the benefit in Metacam is-if inflammation or swelling is a concern it's definitely better. If Metacam alone doesn't control the pain, but swelling is a concern, 2 meds might be needed in the case of a glider going after himself. Without that concern, i.e. for pain management only, the others are less of a risk.

Iím sure there are other options as well but these are the ones I have either used or heard the best results with. Again, this is something to discuss with your vet. Whatever method of pain management you choose, please make sure you do use some form of pain management. Often times vets will tell you it isnít necessary but from my experience, I will not ever have a glider neutered without pain meds.

6. How long does my male need to be kept separate from his cage mates?

This depends on your glider and your own comfort level. When I have my males neutered, the surgery is generally done between 10 am and 12 pm. I keep a close watch on them through out the day and if by 7pm they have shown no signs of problems, I will return them to their cage. Some I have kept watch on for 24 hours. Really, it depends on the glider and the method used. One thing to watch for if you do return them to their cage mates is that the other gliders do not start grooming the incision site.

7. Do I need to remove their wheel?

Some will tell you yes, remove their wheel for 3 days. Honestly though, I never have. Again, this is a comfort issue for you. If you feel that leaving the wheel could make them further injure themselves (and risk SM) then by all means, remove their wheel. It definitely wonít hurt them to go without their wheel for a few days. With my gliders, it seems as if the wheel provides a distraction for them as well as a stress reliever. It is very hard for them to chew if they are running. Keep in mind that if the glider is in an e-collar, many have a hard time with wheels, especially if they are a closed fronted wheel like the Wodent Wheel. It is just hard (or impossible) for them to get in and out of the wheel with the collar on. Also, some mesh tracks can snag the e-collars while the glider is running.

8. How long post neuter will it be before they can no longer get my female pregnant?

Here you will get a variety of answers. Sperm only has about a 72 hour life span.
Originally Posted By: JackieChansMom
Background information:
Sperm are produced in the testicles. This is true of all male mammals. In sugar gliders, the testicles are housed in what we refer to as the POM or pom-pom.

After production, sperm travels into the epididymis where it is stored and matures.

I am not sure how long sugar glider sperm can live in these conditions. Most sperm for mammals lives about 20 days, but we know that the sperm of a bull is viable in the epididymis for 60 days (at least us Texans know, LOL). So, somewhere between 20 and 60 days sperm can live in this little space. Once the sperm leaves this space (i.e. once ejaculated or otherwise expelled), the sperm can only live 72 hours maximum, but studies have shown that most sperm are no longer viable after 36 hours or so.

So, having said that, what does that mean for sugar glider neuters and pregnancy afterward?

Dr. Walsh tells me that in a properly completed sugar glider neuter (whether pom on OR off), both the testicles AND the epididymis are removed.

Since the epididymis is removed, there are no sperm to be used for impregnating.

It can take anywhere from 1 month to a year for their hormones to dissipate and their scent glands to disappear. As long as those hormones are present, their mating urge will still be strong. Keep in mind though, females can keep fertilized embryos in stasis for 6 months to a year so if they have mated prior to the neutering, you may still end up with a surprise bundle of joy. This does not mean the neutering was unsuccessful.

9. What if my glider does self mutilate?

First, do what ever you need to do to prevent damage from being done. Such as putting them in an e-collar or even wrapping them up in fleece so they can not chew at themselves. It is better that they bite and chew you than themselves. You will not die from the bites but they often can do fatal damage in a very very short time. Then, contact someone on the SM team: Bourbon, Mary Holcomb or Xfilefan. They will be able to help you and walk you through what to do next and what to expect.

10. What are some of the risks involved with neutering?

Neutering is surgery regardless which method is used. Anytime gliders (or any animal) are put under anesthesia, there is the risk of respiratory failure. Infection is also a possibility. Post neuter hematoma can occur if a blood vessel ruptures or leaks causing internal bleeding. Post neuter self mutilation is also possible (as already discussed).

The following is the information from the former "sticky" about neutering:
Originally Posted By: JudieH
Neutering .....and what to expect from a vet.
With neutering....choose your vet carefully. Have him discuss the procedure with you as to before and as to aftercare post-op.

1) There are various ways for altering the male...however, the best method seems to be....isoflorin for gas, an incision to remove the testicles and tie and snip and leave the scrotum. No glue or stitches. The incision will close up within a couple of days. Torb and an antibiotic is administered after surgery.

2) Discuss Pain Management at home. Cannot over emphasize this one. "Torb" to be given orally or by injection every three to four hours. If the glider is uncomfortable and there are indications he is messing with his site...this med can be bumped to every two hours as it is short lived and contact your vet ASAP.

Babies 8 weeks oop to four months oop .....torb for the first 24 hours. For males over four months oop .....torb is given for the first 36 hours.

Remember....your vet is doing a "service for you". If he is "unwilling" to be openminded to the (1)method of neutering with (2)pain management with "Torb" to follow for post-op care at home...."then find a vet who will" even if the second vet is inexperienced. This surgery is simple as it is the same procedure used for a cat or dog and an experienced vet can fax the info to help any vet who is unsure as to how to neuter the male glider as well as help with the ratios of how to do the meds.

3) And lastly...ask for phone number if in a crisis. If the vet refers you to an afterhours emerg clinic...ask your vet if he is on their call list and whether or not the emerg clinic will be able to contact him at home. Since the emerg clinics see very few gliders...make sure you have a phone number of a knowledgeable vet.

From my experience with neutering of the male glider....most do fine after the surgery. However....there is a small percentage that do not. By eliminating the use of glue and/or stitches and leaving the PomPom and post-op pain management of Torb...the risks of neutering with a crisis to follow is almost zero. Always keep an e-collar on hand...and remove the wheel post-op for a few days.

4) Remember...you have the right to expect the best care for your glider. And if your vet is unwilling to do the neutering procedure that is preferred by you....then get a vet who will. With the proper procedure...and proper pain med administered for after care at home...neutering is very safe for the male glider.

2/08/08: Edited to add the following information from the thread Pom On or Pom Off and Why
Originally Posted By: Xfilefan
Here is my take:

Riker SMed pre-neuter-hormonal related. His neuter was pom off to stop it. All my others had poms left on.

Pom Off: CONS

Many more gliders SM pom off than pom on because glue or stitches MUST be used to close the wound or the abdomen itself is open. That would not be a good thing. A glider thinks it needs to be groomed off, and when they go after it it's a straight shot into the abdomen-with the potential to cause severe or fatal damage in under an hour, plus more likely to do so, particularly without adequate pain control. Plus, if infection is present it goes straight into vital areas. Longer recovery time for incision.

Pros: complete removal of all hormones (the sack itself does produce a small amount-which is why pom-on gliders may still keep a small bald spot-those without look like a girl glider without the pouch. I recommend this one ONLY when a glider is SM due to hormone related issues.

As to reproduction...just as effective either way.

Pom ON: Pros

No glue or stitches. IF the glider does go after it, they usually go after the pom first (which can still be removed if severely damaged), and it gives time before they get to the abdomen itself. Not nearly the incidence of SM. Glider is less likely to know something is 'missing' also, as the sack is still there, and just enough hormone to retain some secondary sex characteristics. Recovery time is less.

Cons: more likely, if older, to want to mate when female is in heat. If agressive, mating wounds could still be a possibility, though usually the reduction is enough. Pom Off is no guarantee they still won't try-my Binx does, and his was removed (before I got him)-but he was rather mature when it was done. Seems to have to do with sexual maturity at neuter, rather than age.

In both cases adequate pain management (and an e-collar on hand) is key to preventing SM. Sometimes even that's not enough, but it reduces the risk drastically.

Does this help?

Edit: I've had a LOT of experience with this particular topic.

Edited by GliderNursery (07/06/14 09:41 PM)
Edit Reason: edited with updated info and quote from Val