the book I have as long as they are still breathing they are salvageable is this not the case?
This has come up a couple of times recently, so I think it is worth moving to Fact vs Fiction.
My answer to this question is going to seem kind of ambivalent, because I think it depends (on a lot of factors). But I will explain.
My second experience with seeing the birth of joeys, the second one went the wrong way and headed down mom's tail. It got stuck in the fur of her tail and Kira licked at it a few times and then got up to go about her business. I knew if I left it, the baby would die. I held her down (and gave her lots of treats to pick up) worked the baby out of her fur and set it at the top of her pouch (as this was the direction it was already going). It took two tries to get it to the top of her pouch, but then it crawled in. Mom stopped what she was doing, looked in and started licking in her pouch again. 70 days later, two joeys came OOP and 10 days after that both opened their eyes. So I am pretty certain that the joey that I moved was saved.
However - I had nothing to do with the raising of that joey, it was all up to mom and dad. I think that if you find a joey that was recently birthed or should not be OOP yet, the only thing you can do for it is put it back to mom's pouch and hope that it can find a different teat that will swell so the baby is once again latched on.
When joeys are born, they make their way to the pouch, find a nipple and the nipple swells in their mouth. This makes it impossible for them to let go on their own. Unless they are knocked or pulled off, they will stay attached to the nipple until they have grown enough and their jaw muscles are developed and strong enough to detach themselves, right before they come OOP.
All of that said, I believe VERY strongly
that joeys that are too small to be OOP, should be given back to their parents and let nature take it's course. Hand feeding a joey so small will very likely result in the joey getting milk/fluid in it's lungs, not to mention the amount of stress that the joey and the person trying to care for it will go through. I know it is heartbreaking, but sometimes, (I believe) it is more humane to let mom and dad handle the situation than to try to extend the suffering of such a small joey. Because, imo, that is what is happening. A joey that small is not going to be saved, and getting a tiny bit into their tummy (and as I said, likely their lungs as well) only prolongs their suffering rather than letting them pass with their parents.
One thing I think that a lot of people forget, is that sugar gliders are very good parents. If they could save that baby, they would have. Sometimes, particularly with older joeys (just or recently OOP) mom does not produce enough milk, or gets an infection, or something similar and is not able to continue to feed her joey(s). I think intervention at that point AFTER a joey is OOP, is much more likely to be effective. Often, though, the joey still should not be removed from it's parents, just supplement fed. Only when injuries are present on the joey, should it be removed, imo. Mom and dad have become so frustrated at that point, that they are unable to continue to care for their joey.
I absolutely believe it is a great disservice to owners to be led to believe that they can save a joey that is no bigger than a nickel. Moving to Fact vs Fiction Forum