Monthly Archives: October 2013

Home Sweet Sugar Glider Home

In their natural environment sugar gliders live together in small family units making their homes in shallow hollows of trees. Sugar gliders are accustomed to traveling vast areas while foraging, which provides these high-energy animals with much exercise.
Sugar gliders must have ample room in their cage for unrestricted movement and frequent time out of their cage for playing and gliding. The minimum acceptable cage size is at least 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 36 inches high for a single sugar glider. Cage size should increase if additional sugar gliders are housed together. Place the cage on a stand to decrease contact between other pets.
Due to a sugar glider’s size, intelligence and manipulative thumbs, consideration must be given to cage bar spacing and door locks to prevent accidental escapes. Bar spacing should not be more than ½ by 1 inch wide and made with powder-coated wire for protection and ease of cleaning. Simple locks found on bird cages are often opened by sugar gliders. Cages that require two steps to open the door are best.
Sugar gliders are playful and inquisitive, they will play together or alone. Furnishing a variety of cage accessories like perches, hiding and climbing toys, ropes and vines, and a sturdy wheel will provide entertainment and prevent boredom. Typical food containers are heavy dishes that prevent spilling and water dishes or bottles.

by: Sugar Glider Store

A Taste of Hollywood

– National Pest Management Association

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The past several weeks have felt very Hollywood-esque for me.  While sadly, there have been no sightings of George Clooney, no time in limos and no strolls down the red carpet, there have been lots of lights, cameras, and action as we develop several new TV spots and web-based videos. All of our recent pieces address the health risks associated with pests, and while the topics are serious and imposing, the behind-the-scenes work has been anything but. I thought I’d share a little glimpse of these out-of-the ordinary experiences.

The first pieces we shot last month were our Public Service Announcements (PSAs) which were produced in cooperation with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The 30- and 60-second spots educate viewers about how prevalent pest related allergy and asthma triggers are in U.S. homes.  For instance, they note that 78% to 98% of city homes contain cockroaches and 82% of U.S. homes contain mice allergens, factors linked to allergies and asthma. (Watch for these pieces to air nationwide this spring.)

My Taste of Hollywood Take-Aways…

 

  • Casting calls are unique experiences. We watched no fewer than 100 actors audition for one part in the PSA. I loved reading the bios on the actors’ head shots where they literally list all talents imaginable ….yodeling, holding their breath, proficiency in jumping jacks, mastery of bubble-blowing, pig calling….I guess they are looking to share anything that can give them a competitive edge in being cast.  I must admit, my fascination with the actors’ life skills often distracted me from their actual auditions!

Actors on First Responder Set

  • It takes a long time to get quality production. It took nine hours to film a 30 second and 60 second spot for TV.  The lighting, acting, and angles all had to be just so. Then there were days and days of time spent in post-produ ction to complete the pieces. It was time incredibly well spent as the finished spots are educational and powerful.
  • There are a lot of people involved in shooting a PSA. There was a team of at least 30 to film our short pieces. They were all always busy, often adju sting things – a little to the left, a little to the right, a little higher, and a little lower. Yes, there were dollies, grips, and gaf fers which I always see listed in movie credits. No, I still don’t kn ow what any of them do!

First Responder Set

  • Movie trailers are very cool. We had a big production trailer from which to watch the filming.  It had a complete kitchen, a make-up room, a living room, and an array of production equipment. I felt VERY Hollywood-esque in my trailer.

Movie trailer

We also recently “wrapped” production on our new Health Checks videos and Pest Prescriptions by Parada, M.D. – both featuring Dr. Jorge Parada, medical advisor to NPMA. Dr. Parada, an infectious disease specialist, discusses health issues associated with a myriad of pests and dispelling common misperceptions about health care and pests. He talked almost solidly for nine hours and we will get approximately 45 minutes of videos.  Dr. Parada did a great job of taking complex medical jargon and sharing important information so that it’s easy to understand.

My Taste of Hollywood Take-aways…

  • Before the director yells “action,” the camera people say “speed” which means they are ready. It is a hold-over phrase from yester-year when cameras needed time to rev-up and be at the right speed to record. Today, a simple push of a button does the trick, but in deference to tradition, the terminology has remained the same.
  • The hot camera lights necessitate a lot of powdering for the actors. I would like to have a make-up person follow me around throughout the day for touch-ups as necessary!
  • Production sets are incredibly realistic. Every last detail is considered about what might be seen on camera.  Medical books and office paraphernalia, diplomas, etc. are all authentic, even those items that are likely not to be seen as the realistic representation is important.

Health Checks Set

I hope you enjoyed this slight deviation from my normal blog post. I look forward to sharing our finished videos with you shortly!

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Bug Nicknames

– National Pest Management Association

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I am a big fan of nicknames. I have gone by one my whole life.  My given name, Melissa, just doesn’t seem to be me. (Sorry, mom and dad.)  I am definitely a “Missy”. People often assume nicknames that are reflective of their personality, looks or features, a life experience or some other fitting reason. But people aren’t the only ones to be given fitting monikers. For instance, when I was in school, we had “smelly trees”. I am pretty sure botanists would refer to them differently but to the students, they were the smelly trees that necessitated holding your nose when passing by, or sometimes, even taking a different path to class. Bugs, too, are often identified by distinguishing characteristics rather than their more formal names.

Cockroaches, for instance, have a host of names, such as palmetto bugs or water bugs (though that’s actually a totally different bug). Whatever you call them, they are still disgusting. Pillbugs are better known as rollie-pollies because of the defensive rounding curl they perform when frightened.  And whoever calls those “jumping crickets” by their given name, camel crickets?

While some nicknames have been commonly accepted by the public, others are just affectionate (?) names families have created for pests that have troubled them.  One of my colleagues noted her family always refers to boxelder bugs as “Halloween bugs”, a logical connection since the orange and black bugs generally appear close to the arrival of pint size ghouls and goblins. Our Facebook page, heavily trafficked by homeowners, is filled with references to familial names our users have coined for pesky pests. Recently, one desperate soul was hopeful for guidance in dealing with “sugar ants”. Well, there’s actually no such insect but it’s easy to understand the reference! Ants love sweets and are often drawn to the kitchen table sugar bowl.

Has your family developed “pet names” for pests? I’d love to hear about them. While entomologists refer to insects by names connected with their order, family, genus, and species – the rest of us generally take practicality into hand and call them by something more familiar or meaningful, including pests!

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Sharp rise in certain tick-borne illnesses

MU researchers have studied a trend among animals with tick-borne infections. The researchers inoculate the animal with a tick-borne illness, then treat the infection with antibiotics when the animal begins to show signs of disease. The researchers then place ticks on the animal and test the blood the ticks consume. The tests show that even when the animal shows no signs of the disease, the infection remains in their blood. In most cases, this leads to a relapse of the disease. Graphic by Graciela Aguilarleon

Feeding Sugar Gliders

A common misconception is that sugar gliders only eat sweet foods, but actually sugar gliders are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. A wild sugar glider’s diet changes depending on the season, and it’s location. Some frequent foods include sap, pollen and nectar from trees, a variety of fruits and insects, and, at times, eggs and small animals. Their natural diet is complicated and difficult to replicate.

Gaining basic information about a sugar glider’s diet and consulting with a veterinarian about nutritional needs are the best way to choose a diet.
Calcium is an important element of a sugar glider’s diet and the recommended calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is 2:1 to prevent calcium deficiencies. Protein is also another important element of a sugar glider’s diet, the amount needed is uncertain, but a common recommendation is about 40 percent protein.
Sugar gliders often overeat sweets and fattening foods. They can become overweight, leading to medical complications related to obesity. Having fresh, clean water available at all times is vital, because sugar gliders are known to dehydrate quickly.
A variety of staple dry food diets, powdered mixes, supplements and treats are now available specifically for sugar gliders. These can be brought readily online.

A few dry food diets state that they provide all the nutrients needed, and they discourage any addition of fruits and vegetables, while other dry food diets are used along with daily fruits and vegetables. Powdered mixes and supplements are usually combined with familiar foods like eggs, chicken and honey, then mixed with water to make a moist diet, which is fed along with fruits and vegetables.
Sugar gliders extract moisture and nutrients from their food and then discard the remaining solid substances. Many sugar gliders and owners prefer a moist diet combined with fresh or frozen produce and daily treats. Treats include mealworms and other insects, nuts, yogurt drops and dried fruit. Treats are not necessary in maintaining sugar glider health, but they are a great tool to use with bonding. To view some of the food selections for Sugar gliders – click here -

by: Sugar Glider Store

Preventing Pests in the Pantry

– National Pest Management Association

Monday, January 14, 2013

I used to think pictures of organized pantries were only circulated to make overly busy moms feel inferior or jealous.  Now that I know pests come into our home searching for food, water, and shelter, I now understand organized pantries with contained food are more than just impressive works of art – they serve an essential role in removing pest buffet opportunities! 

Some of the most common pests we see invading our pantries and cabinets are those that are identified as pantry pests, most notably Indian meal moths and Merchant Grain Beetles and rodents, especially mice.  Most of us shudder at the thoughts of pests being in our kitchen, but their presence near our food is more than just a troubling thought.  Pantry pests can contaminate food products.  Mice can spread Salmonella and Hantavirus.  They can also carry fleas and lice into our homes.  Yuck!

Like with most things in life, prevention is key! A few easy proactive steps you can you can take to make your food storage areas less attractive to pests:

  • Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains- their pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
  • Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
  • Store food in airtight containers. 

This step sounds good but undoubtedly gets put aside by many to do later.  Typical reasons for procrastination surface.  “I don’t know how.”  “I will do it later.” “I am waiting for a coupon for the right containers.” 

Wipe away those excuses.  You can get most of the plastic boxes you need right at the grocery store – extra errand not required.  Or, if you have a little time to look around, you can also have good luck finding these products at yard sales and thrift stores. 

Buy plastic or metal containers in a variety of sizes.  Think about what you keep in your cabinets or pantry that will need to be moved into more permanent containers so you can buy appropriate sizes: Cereal, snacks, dog food, sugar, flour, etc.  For example, I store cereal in plastic containers that will allow the cereal to pour right from the top, making it nice and easy to use. 

Organizing your pantry or cabinets is a once and done project.  Sure, it will take maintenance as your food items change, but purchasing the items and getting your system in place will take the most of the time at the beginning.  Once you start the process, you will find that it’s amazingly easy to uphold.

Not only will you want to include a tour of your impressive pantry to visiting friends but you will take great satisfaction in knowing about the layer of pest protection you are providing for your home!

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Preventing Pests in the Pantry

– National Pest Management Association

Monday, January 14, 2013

I used to think pictures of organized pantries were only circulated to make overly busy moms feel inferior or jealous.  Now that I know pests come into our home searching for food, water, and shelter, I now understand organized pantries with contained food are more than just impressive works of art – they serve an essential role in removing pest buffet opportunities! 

Some of the most common pests we see invading our pantries and cabinets are those that are identified as pantry pests, most notably Indian meal moths and Merchant Grain Beetles and rodents, especially mice.  Most of us shudder at the thoughts of pests being in our kitchen, but their presence near our food is more than just a troubling thought.  Pantry pests can contaminate food products.  Mice can spread Salmonella and Hantavirus.  They can also carry fleas and lice into our homes.  Yuck!

Like with most things in life, prevention is key! A few easy proactive steps you can you can take to make your food storage areas less attractive to pests:

  • Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains- their pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
  • Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
  • Store food in airtight containers. 

This step sounds good but undoubtedly gets put aside by many to do later.  Typical reasons for procrastination surface.  “I don’t know how.”  “I will do it later.” “I am waiting for a coupon for the right containers.” 

Wipe away those excuses.  You can get most of the plastic boxes you need right at the grocery store – extra errand not required.  Or, if you have a little time to look around, you can also have good luck finding these products at yard sales and thrift stores. 

Buy plastic or metal containers in a variety of sizes.  Think about what you keep in your cabinets or pantry that will need to be moved into more permanent containers so you can buy appropriate sizes: Cereal, snacks, dog food, sugar, flour, etc.  For example, I store cereal in plastic containers that will allow the cereal to pour right from the top, making it nice and easy to use. 

Organizing your pantry or cabinets is a once and done project.  Sure, it will take maintenance as your food items change, but purchasing the items and getting your system in place will take the most of the time at the beginning.  Once you start the process, you will find that it’s amazingly easy to uphold.

Not only will you want to include a tour of your impressive pantry to visiting friends but you will take great satisfaction in knowing about the layer of pest protection you are providing for your home!

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Insects Are Less Randy in the Rain

When rains come, this curcurbit beetle is most definitely not looking for love. Photo by Pablo Dikro

For some humans, storms–with their raging winds and rains, passionate bursts of lightening and bone-rattling thunder–are prompts for romantic snuggling up. Likewise, few can argue that kissing in the pouring rain, Hollywood-style, isn’t a pretty thrilling experience. Insects, however, beg to differ. For them, overcast skies are the ultimate sexual buzz kill.

To assess how big of a turn-off rain is for insects, a team of Brazilian and Canadian researchers gathered together collections of three versatile arthropods: curcurbit beetles, true armyworm moths and potato aphids. Insects, they knew, possess hairs and waxy coatings to help repel water, and some, like mosquitoes, are known to have no problem flying through raindrops. On the other hand, too much heavy rain and wind can kill the little guys. So when it came to the question of how their tiny research subjects would handle sex in a storm, the team wasn’t sure what to expect.

Storms form when different air pressures collide, and the researchers decided to use decreasing air pressure as a proxy for impending rain. The team wanted to examine changes in any insect mating behaviors, including courtship and the deed itself, so they performed a number of experiments, which they describe in a paper published in PLoS One.

First, they exposed around 70 male curcurbit beetles to virgin female sex pheromones–chemical odors that normally would drive the males into a frenzy of desire–while subjecting the bugs to different barometric pressures, including stable, increasing (usually associated with clear weather but strong winds) and decreasing atmospheric pressures. Under stable or increasing pressure, they found, the male beetles eagerly scuttled into the section of their container where the pheromone was concentrated. But when the pressure was decreasing, the males were significantly less enthusiastic about initiating a meeting with a potential blushing beetle bride. In fact, they usually ignored the cues.

This armyworm moth is unwilling to get its wings wet, even if it’s for sex. Photo by Seabrooke Leckie

Next, around 70 virgin armyworm moth females were plopped into a similar experimental setting. The moths were on the cusp of peak mating season, during which females “call” to males by releasing potent cocktails of sex pheromones. When the pressure dropped, the females apparently did not feel frisky, releasing significantly less of the come-hither concoctions than under the environment of stable or increasing pressure. In nature, the researchers point out, females usually chose a nice spot high on an extended leaf to do this–in other words, the spot most likely to be splattered with rain and result in their getting washed away.

The researchers then took the obvious next step, putting both beetle and moth males and virgin females together. The male moths seemed totally turned off by both the decreasing and increasing pressure, mating fewer times under those conditions than in the stable control group.

The male beetles behaved a bit more curiously, however. When pressure was normal or increasing, the male beetles took their time setting the mood and impressing their lucky ladies by intertwining their antenna and performing other sexy pre-copulation behaviors.

When the pressure was decreasing, however, the males were all business. They skipped courtship entirely, jumped on the females and quickly got things over and done with. The researchers found this to be a bit puzzling since the males did not respond to the female hormones under decreasing pressures, but did go ahead and initiate a quickie when females were standing right next to them. This rushed copulation could be because of a “perceived reduction in life expectancy”–in other words, an it’s-the-end-of-the-world-so-let’s-do-it mentality–although that would require further investigation, they say.

Even these aphids squash their libidos at the first signs of a storm. Photo by scyrene

Finally, the potato aphids were subjected to similar experiments. The researchers observed that females raised their backsides and hind legs into the air (the aphid’s version of  a “come and get it” calling) less often in both increasing and decreasing pressure conditions. Like the moths, the team points out, the females chose the edge of a leaf to perform this booty call, so any hint of wind could potentially spell disaster for them. As for the males, not surprisingly, they, too, had no success in mating under neither the increasing or decreasing pressure conditions, perhaps because they agree that literally getting blown away during copulation is not the way to go.

The evidence, the team writes, was pretty conclusive: insects are not turned on by storms. This applies to all facets of mating, including an aversion to seeking, encouraging or initiating sex when there’s even a chance that precipitation and wind might be involved.

Although each species had their kinks–the beetles would still do it, albeit quickly, and the moths and aphids hated both increasing and decreasing pressure–the team thinks the results are general enough and cover a diverse enough spread of species to likely apply to many insects. Probably, they write, this aversion evolved as a way to avoid injury, death by drowning or being swept away by strong winds.

While the team is eager to probe even more arthropod species to confirm and better understand these behavioral patterns, they conclude that insects, at least, seem unwilling to die for love.

via: Smithsonian

PVC Sugar Glider Cage Recall


Manufacturer Recall – PVC Sugar Glider Cages
Martins PVC coated cages sold from October 2010 – May 2011

Pertains to ‘PVC’ coated Sugar glider cages only. These are identified as the Sugar glider cages with the thick black PVC coating on the wire, purchased between Oct. 2010 – May 2011.

If you purchased a PVC coated (Martins) Sugar glider cage from the Sugar Glider Superstore website, or any other retail website between October 2010 thru May 2010, please contact the manufacturer – Martins Cages about a cage recall (contact information listed below).

At this time, there is no indication that the PVC coated cages are definitely a cause of health issues with pet Sugar gliders, but there is a possibility that the PVC coated wire may be an issue, therefore as a precautionary measure, Martins Cage company will replace their PVC coated cages (sold between the above listed dates) with powder coated cages at no cost to the customer.

The PVC coated Sugar glider cages that the recall applies include the following models as previously listed on the Sugar Glider Superstore website: Castle Cage, Tower Cage, Mansion cage, Travel Cage, these were the (all black) PVC coated Sugar glider cage models only, and only the cages purchased between Oct. 2010 and May 2011. No other pet cage models sold on the Sugar Glider Superstore website are effected by this recall. This recall only applies to PVC coated Sugar glider cages purchased during these dates, no other pet cages are effected.

At this time, if you house a Sugar glider(s) in a PVC coated cage that was purchased between Oct. 2010 and May 2011, please remove your sugar glider(s) from the cage, and contact Martins Cage company immediately to determine if your PVC cage is one that is effected by the recall.

Martins Cage Company (the cage manufacturer) is currently working on a new line of Sugar glider cages made from another material, and they will gladly replace any of their PVC coated Sugar glider cages that were purchased between Oct. 2010 thru May 2011.

Martins Cage Company will soon have available sugar glider cages made in powder coated wire, which they will replace the PVC coated cages with. This will take a little time, but as soon as they are available they will be happy to replace your existing cage with a powder coated version of the Sugar glider cage model that you purchased between the dates listed above.

It would be helpful if you could please e-mail Martins Cages at: sales@martinscages.com if you own one of the cages in question, so they can put you on the priority list to have a new powder coated cage shipped out to you as soon as possible. Please put “cage replacement” in the subject line and include your name and current address.

The Sugar Glider Superstore will provide any updates to the recall, along with keeping you informed of any other information that becomes available to us.

Contact Information for Martins Cage Company:
email address – sales@martinscages.com
Phone number for Martins Cage Company – 888-451-2234
Contact person at Martins Cage Co. – Diane

by: Sugar Glider Store