One of the important facets of owning exotic animals is finding a good exotic vet that is familiar with your animal. We found one, thankfully, just up the road for our everyday checkups. BUT one of the even trickier parts is finding an emergency exotic animal vet. Here’s the story. We have two sugar gliders, I have always wanted to keep these guys – even since I was in high school. ANYWAYS. Monday evening, I went to check on them and feed them – it was late, maybe 10:30. “Hey guysss” :: in a high pitched baby animal voice of course:: I realized though, that they weren’t bouncing around their cage. Uh-oh. These guys are nocturnal. Usually at this point they’re so crazy I can barely hold on to them. They were in their little dangling hut I got at Petsmart; twisting and reaching out for me. Reaching. What? Why not jumping out…wait… OH MY GOSH. They were stuck! I called my handsome husband, and we started cutting them free. I noticed that one of the gliders, Poncho, was ok, just a toe stuck in the fabric. The other guy – Escher – had both his foot AND his tail stuck and twisted very badly – his toes appeared to be NOT THERE!! OH MY GOSH. This is not a first aid anymore. He was so tangled up I didn’t dare untangle him myself. Upon a closer look, Escher was also dehydrated! We gave him a peach slice for some sugar and fluid and I called around for an emergency vet. We finally found one, half an hour away, whose vet on call that evening would take sugar gliders. After much ado, she ended up putting him under and operating to remove what was left of his leg and half of his tail (which was dead). We had to take off more of his leg than was actually damaged, since she explained that if he had a stump left; it would be raw from his trying to use it (and probably end up having to be removed again anyways) The vet said that he was the smallest animal she’s ever operated on, and so tiny that it was tricky putting him under safely without killing him!
Here he is, post-op, all drowsy from the anesthesia. Look at that tiny tongue sticking out!
Poor little blighter! :: Insert Australian accent ::We left at 3:30am with a baggie of tiny syringes of antibiotics and painkillers, and with half a tail and one less leg. I’m just glad he made it! His bro was so sad that he was gone that evening, he didn’t even touch his food that night! They’re such social animals and really do better with a buddy. Right now, he seems to be doing much better – though his coat (as you can see below, now a tripod) is patchy now from stress- but he’s already getting around his big cage, he made it to the fleece-pouch halfway up the side this morning! However, I feel terrible. I should’ve known better than to have given him that toy; which in retrospect was CLEARLY not a good toy for sugar gliders. I should have been checking on them closer on Sunday other than just saying hi- they might’ve been stuck at that point too and I didn’t even have a clue. I should’ve already had an emergency vet lined up – what if that vet wasn’t on call that night? I feel awful – my personal philosophy is you should be taking care of your animals to the best of your ability- ie “if you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet”. When considering a pet, know that the actual animal itself is the “cheap” part of ownership. It’s the ongoing care that you need to budget for! I’ll make it up to you Escher!! I bought him some live mealworms and watermelon- he seems to have forgiven me for being a terrible pet owner. Forgive me, Eschie-weschie?