To neuter Or not to neuter that is the question?

SPECIAL REPORT: To neuter… Or not to neuter… that is the question? Although all male Sugar Gliders sold by our company are now neutered before being ...
Author: Jerome Poole
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SPECIAL REPORT:

To neuter… Or not to neuter… that is the question? Although all male Sugar Gliders sold by our company are now neutered before being placed in their new homes, we frequently get questions from older customers about whether it’s best to neuter their adult animals. The following is a quick, factual breakdown of the pro’s and cons of neutering – along with some simple instructions on how to do this that you can take to your local Veterinarian.

CONS: 1: BREEDING: About the only “con” to having your Sugar Glider neutered is the obvious one – they won’t be able to produce offspring. For most people, this lone drawback is far outweighed by the many “pros” outlined below. Another related factor to consider is licensing and federal regulations. The breeding of Sugar Gliders is strictly-regulated by the Federal Government. Current law states that anyone possessing 3 females in close proximity to a fertile male must have a Federal USDA License; and be subject to complying with rigid health standards and frequent inspections.

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PROS: 1: SCENT GLANDS & “MARKING”: As male Sugar Gliders begin to enter puberty (usually around 8-12 months of age), they begin to develop three distinct scent glands on their body. The first is a greasy “bald spot” on their forehead. The second is a similar bald spot in the center of their chest, and the third is near their genital area. The males uses these scent glands to “mark” his mate, his offspring, and his territory. When fed the correct diet, this “marking” usually does not result in an offensive odor. However, some males possessing an extremely potent “glandular” system can still exude a noticeable smell. After neutering, any bald spots will fill back in with fur in a short period of time – and marking will be greatly reduced or cease completely. In addition, males which have not been neutered frequently exhibit an “extended” penis; meaning that their penis will protrude for periods lasting from a few minutes – to a few days – at a time. This behavior does not hurt the animal, and it will retract on its own over time.

2: FRIENDLINESS TOWARDS HUMANS: Sugar Gliders are very much like other household pets, in that once they reach sexual maturity and begin to have babies – their personalities can become less-friendly.

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The most common behavioral change reported by owners is that pets which had always been very friendly, loving and well-adjusted – suddenly begin to bite and do not want to “cuddle” anymore. While this sudden shift in behavior can usually be changed back over time by applying consistent discipline, the base hormonal “shifts” happening within the animal can be pretty hard to counter. Once neutered, most adults will return to their normal, loving nature within 4-6 weeks; as the hormones slowly work their way out of the animal’s system. Males which are neutered prior to reaching puberty will never experience these hormonal-related temperament issues.

4: FRIENDLINESS TOWARDS OTHER GLIDERS: Adult male Sugar Gliders which have not been neutered can be extremely territorial around other Sugar Gliders – and will often kill babies which are not their own. In contrast, males which are neutered at a young age essentially “stay” kids their whole lives – and will usually enjoy the company of completely strange Gliders after just a few minutes of introduction.

5: LONGEVITY: Although no “clinical” trials have been done specifically on Sugar Gliders, many owners report significantly longer life spans among neutered males. This is typical of most household pets – and in many cases neutered animals also experience less health issues due to the fact that their bodies aren’t subjected to hormonal swings and stresses associated with mating.

6: HOUSING / INBREEDING: Although it is perfectly fine to allow adults to remain in the same cage as their young offspring; babies should be separated from their parents before they reach 4 months of age. As previously noted, when fertile males begin to reach sexual maturity, their personalities can change fairly significantly. Males with extremely “active” glandular systems WILL try to mate with any female in their cage – and inbreeding will occur if they are not separated. By contrast, neutered males will typically co-exist in the same cage without any territorial issues – having the attitude of “the more the merrier” ☺ © Copyright 2007 GRE, Inc. – All Rights Reserved. Characters used with permission.

NEUTERING A SUGAR GLIDER: Should you decide to get your Sugar Glider(s) neutered, you normally do not need to go to an “exotic” Vet who specializes in Sugar Gliders. Neutering a Sugar Glider is very simple, fast and inexpensive; and any vet who already works on other small mammals (like hamsters, gerbils, etc..) can easily perform the procedure. When neutering a Sugar Glider, the single most dangerous thing about the whole procedure is using anesthetic. Due to a Sugar Gider’s small stature, even the tiniest overdose of anesthetic can be fatal. Fortunately, anesthesia is not necessary when neutering Sugar Gliders, because they have absolutely NO nerve endings in the small “chord” which attaches the testicles to their body. Therefore, they feel no pain whatsoever when the chord is severed. Many Vets who do not specialize in Sugar Gliders are not aware of this – and therefore reflexively want to use anesthesia under the idea that NOT doing so would be inhumane. Since we at Pocket Pets are not "vets", we cannot give out "veterinary advice".. However, we can tell you that our vets (who specialize in Gliders) never recommend using sedation on gliders. Instead, the best thing to do is take the following instructions to your vet - and they can follow them. Even if they've never worked on sugar gliders before, they will know exactly what this article is talking about - and can do the procedure in about a minute. This way it won't involve any anesthetic - and it should be pretty inexpensive. ☺ *****************************************

Neutering the young male sugar glider By Beverly R. Oakes A while back, I began to hear about, and experience, people who wanted a female baby sugar glider because they had heard the males "got bald and were smelly". While I felt like this was an uninformed assessment and was somewhat exaggerated, I began to think about the possibility of neutering young male gliders. I have an adult male glider that was 'accidentally' neutered when he got 'hung up' in his pouch and some thread got wrapped around the piece of skin between the body and the testicle sac. The sac dried up and fell off. © Copyright 2007 GRE, Inc. – All Rights Reserved. Characters used with permission.

This male does not have the 'bald spot' - probably due to the scent gland there being inactive or less active. He also does not 'mark' or release the musky odor that is so characteristic of the mature male (and even more noticeable in paired/mated gliders). I began to talk about neutering with my vet and he agreed that with the sugar glider's anatomy and smallness of size, the best and safest way to neuter one would be to tie off the testicle sac (as opposed to any invasive type surgery). I began to examine a couple of the male babies I had and when one was about 8 - 9 weeks, I could readily feel the testicles fully descended into the furry sac. At the vets, we decided to attempt tying off the sac without anesthesia of any kind. If it was needed, the vet felt that ether would be one of the safest options. The procedure went very well and took only a few minutes. I held the glider with his underside visible to the vet. The vet made a 'loop' with a piece of suture, the assistant lifted the testicle sac away from the body, and the vet placed the 'loop' around the neck of the sac and made the initial tie. This initial tie must be very snug and the glider jumped slightly, which indicated some minor discomfort. The glider also released some of the strong-smelling white glandular secretion from it's anal area. He did not bite and settled back down while the vet tied it off a few more times. All of my glider babies have been handled from the time they came out of pouch, so it was relatively easy to hold him. However, if you are holding a less cooperative glider, you can wrap it in a cloth with only the underside exposed. After the vet was done, the glider climbed back in the pouch tied around my waist, cleaned around the sac area a bit and curled up to sleep. I have never seen the neutered males chew at the area, nor have I seen evidence of irritation in the area after the procedure. If done properly, after 7 - 10 days, the sac dries up, turns somewhat black and either falls off or will come off quite easily with a slight 'tug'. You may notice a pen-point sized spot at the point of separation. You can put a dab of triple antibiotic ointment at this point to help prevent infection and promote healing. We have performed this procedure on several male sugar glider babies (8 - 12 weeks out of pouch) to date, and have not experienced any complications.

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