Lately there have been SO MANY posts all over the place (here and on Facebook) about reasons why folks lose joeys or their breeders
no longer breed.
One of the main reasons people automatically start with is diet
. I do not believe this is the only thing to look at. Although diet
I think saying diet
is the cause first off is an easy way out just like saying when you take a glider in for a necropsy and they say it had liver issues. People just accept that answer as it is the easiest answer and move on. But what CAUSED the liver to have issues? The same question goes for breeding.
I am not saying diet
never plays a role in it, as it does, but I am saying folks NEED to be aware there are so many other reasons out there. So lets take a look shall we?
Back in 2004-2005 we used to see a large number of joeys cannibalized. Again we were all certain the cause was the mothers needed more protein so we upped protein levels HIGH.... this did nothing but show an increase later on in necropsy's of kidney and liver issues. Protein levels in a sugar glider do not need to be that high for pet only. Breeding gliders do require a higher level of protein, however you do not want to overdo it.
It was brought to my attention at that time by Dr.Tristan to remember gliders are like mice (or pigs for that matter) in the way they sleep. They like to sleep on top of one another. Normally the alpha (nest protector) will be the one on top. At that time everyone used regular cage pouches
. Well, if you ever looked at a cage pouch that is full of gliders you will see it has no support on the bottom at all and the gliders are just 'enveloped' in the pouch. Now this is fine for adults, but joeys that are under mom, who is under dad (and possibly other gliders in that cage) have nothing to 'push off of' pinning the little one under all of that. The possibility of the joeys being suffocated was brought to surface.
Alicia (Queenduck) and myself at that time went on a mission to find someone to make solid bottom pouches
. Now a days there are several good vendors
that make these. Since these started being used back at that time, there was a decrease of loss of joeys and many more survived.
I ALWAYS recommend solid bottom pouches
or nest boxes to those that breed gliders. You see, so many times people would say, I just had the joey out last night and it was doing great and than this morning, I found it dead, or even worse, it was gone. Leaving us asking the question of why.
Another thing people say is the mom did not have enough milk.
I have to say I'm not sure about this as well. The milk production with a sugar glider (marsupial)is different than that of other animals ( eutherian mammals).
During early lactation (what is known as phase 2) the carbohydrate is high and lipid (fats) is low in milk.
During the transition from phase 2 to 3, carbohydrate is reduced to very low concentrations while lipid are increased very high (over 60%).
Studies have shown the protein levels in milk have remained the same.
An interesting fact about marsupials is if they have one joey out of pouch nursing and one in pouch nursing, they will produce two different types of milk at the same time.
If the mother was having issues producing milk, it would show early on in the joey and mom would more than likely dispose of the joey prior to it ever getting to the OOP time.
Another reason for loss of joey could also be there was something wrong internally with the joey that we have no idea about. Animals have been given the gift to know if there is an illness that will affect the health of the joey and parents do away with them.
I, for one, do not believe in trying to supplement joeys UNLESS something has happened to mom (death, illness, severe pouch infection.) Reasons mom's reject is another entire topic.
Genetics could also play a role in why parents choose to do away with their young as much as we do not want to believe that to be the case.
Just because a pair of gliders look good according to the kinship chart or their COI's look good on paper does not mean they are a good match. There could be a defective gene that we cannot see.
So, I just typed this whole novel to share a few reasons 'why' it might happen to show there is never really a 'simple' reason even though we want things to be as simple as possible.