I want to document what my husband and I have experienced over the last week or so, so that others with similar situations can learn and lessen the panic of a glider emergency.Day 1:
Aki, our 8 year old sugar glider, got her little front right hand stuck in her pouch from a loose string. We found her in within hours, but the hand was swollen and red. We set up a hospital cage and began nursing her back to health while keeping a close eye on the hurt hand.
First lesson: all the warnings about seams in pouches
are absolutely correct, and never
use them!Day 2:
Aki spent most of her day in her travel pouch on my chest. That evening, the hand was looking better; that is, until she began to self mutilate. My husband and I heard the sound and something that I can only describe as crunching. She had essentially bitten off three of her fingers within 2 minutes
. We distracted her while I franticly looked up how to build an e collar, which we did in about 20 minutes. (the e collar template is available in the Emergency Self-Mutilators section) We got the e collar on her, which she had never before worn. The horrible way in which she reacted to the e collar can be just as traumatic as self-mutilating, so those new to e collars: be warned! It’s ok; within 16 hours she was grumpy, but ok with the collar.
Second Lesson: E collars are not easy to put on, and your sugar glider will most likely hate it (until they get used to it). A lot of people do “practice runs” of e collars, and that’s probably not a bad idea. However, the trauma that your sugar glider seems to be going through with the collar on is not easy to watch. (hint: don’t put them at the bottom of a cage with bedding: it gets scooped up in the cone!)
Third Lesson: Self-mutilation is a real concern; her hand would most likely have been fine had she not bitten her little fingers. If we had only anticipated how quickly something like this could happen!Day 3:
We handfed Aki since eating out of a dish was not possible, and we took a look at the foot: not good. We called our glider-friendly vet
and got her in that afternoon. We took her out of her e collar and she no longer bit at her hand, but the damage had already been done. The vet
amputated her little arm just below the elbow, and we took her home that night.
Fourth Lesson: facing possible amputation was heartbreaking, but so much better than any possible alternative. Don't hesitate to get professional help!
A week later, she’s doing just fine, no biting of her stitches (although we’re ready for action the second we hear anything strange!) Her hospital cage is great, and before we transfer her back to her original cage, we have some hammocks set up in the lower part to catch her, a new bed of pure fleece, no strings, and lots and lots of love. We also have set up an emergency glider kit for the next time something unforeseeable happens.
What we did wasn't perfect, but it should be documented so that others can benefit. Without the help of these forums, Aki could have been in much much worse shape, so my heartfelt THANKS to all of you!