A lot of glider owners ask the question, "My glider is a first time mom, do they always lose their joeys"?
I will answer this question by telling you about three different pairs that I own that were all first time moms this year.
Gizmo was one years old when she got pregnant. Her mate O'Malley is a very wild and nervous glider. She had a normal pregnancy and delivered about one week early. Tiny Tim was born on Sat. night and I could tell he was a little early, maybe even as much as a week. The following day I was relieved that he returned to her pouch where he remained for 4 more days until he came out again on Thursday evening. That night Gizmo and O'Malley left him all alone in the pouch crying. Once they were through eating, they returned to the pouch. The next night I heard a tst tst noise that a mother glider makes when she is pushing the baby off or in pain from nursing. I held the pouch in my lap and noticed Tiny Tim crawling around alone looking for her. A lot of crying was still going on and off all night. By Saturday night I knew something was really wrong. Giz and O'Malley were both out leaving him crying constantly. Let me point something out here that is very important - Gizmo would actually lay on her back and want the joey to nurse, but it was like he didn't know where to go (explaination later). I pulled him out to warm and comfort him while they were playing and noticed that he had only part of one limb on one leg. He also had a very bright white-tipped tail. It looked like he was either born with one leg, or it was mutilated several days before because it had already healed up. I stayed up all night with them, ran to the store to get some puppy or kitten milk and found none. Basically I had not done all the things I had told people to do on Glider Central about being prepared. I was not prepared I had nothing, and had to watch him suffer. I went to sleep about 5:00 am and woke again at 8:00 am and he had died. Mom and Dad were still trying to keep him warm. They had not realized their loss yet. With Gizmo's next pregnancy, she had another single joey and she was making the same tst tst noise. I found out later that was her making that noise because she was in pain because of a yeast infection. This single joey was a female named "Baby" and she was thrown out of the pouch 4 times. I started supplementing her after two days and I fed her three times a day. If I missed a feeding, she would get thrown out. Baby survived and spent the full 8 week term with her mom and dad. Gizmo had a single female with her third pregnancy. The day before the joey was born, I noticed how red her pouch was and no hair was growing around the opening, and I took her to the vet to find her with a severe yeast infection. The vet said it would be good to get the medicine in her for three days before the joey was born. He was reluctant because it could kill the joey, but I convinced him that it would probably die anyway. Unfortunately the joey was born the next day and there was not enough time to get the antibiotic inside her pouch in enough time. She rejected the joey and it died two days later in my hand. Two months later I switched mates and Gizmo seemed to be happier with the new guy. She got pregnant right away and the day the joey was due to come out of pouch, the male pulled it out and ate it. Now I want to point something out here. This was a very healthy male, first time Dad. I had my vet look at Gizmo and he definately agreed with me that the pouch was inverted and pulled out. He said in time she would push it back in and get pregnant again. About two weeks after the joey died, she pushed the pouch back inside and got pregnant again. This pregnancy she also carried two joeys and two girls were born on September 11. Once again Gizmo laid on her back and waited for them to nurse and they didn't. I had a friend who had a female, Denia, who said she would trade with me since all her males were neutered. After 5 weeks, Gizmo still has not been allowed in the colony of neutered males and single female, but we are hoping eventually they will except her. If it doesn't work out with her new living quarters, I will take her back but will not breed her until I have some test run on her and she is treated. One of the females died on Sept. 12 and Hope lives on! Gizmo was never allowed into the colony, so we made the trade back. At that time I had the vet check out her pouch and he determined that she gets the gitters and is nervous about motherhood, because she was perfectly healthy.
|Molly was 1 1/2 years old when she got pregnant. Molly is a very large female with wide hips. Molly is shy and would never let me look at her belly while she was pregnant. Molly carried her joey twins for a full term. When Molly's babies came out, they were very large. It seemed to me they were either taking after their mom, or she just had more room in her pouch for them to develop before coming out of pouch. Molly and Cliff's kids are healthy and she has been a great mom. They keep her busy and she has trimmed down a bit.|
Jules was nine months old when she got pregnant. Jules is a very petite glider. She is about 1 1/4 inches at her widest point. We have always thought she was anorexic because she has never eated a whole lot. Her mate Jasper was 8 months old when Jules got pregnant. Jule's joeys, male and female were born 2 weeks early. They were very tiny as Jules never got that large in her pregnancy. After 7 days, one morning I found the female joey on the floor of the cage. She had not been out that long because she was still standing on all fours and not crying yet. I put her back into the pouch with the other gliders. Her mother was very young to get pregnant and still likes to party at night in her wodent wheel. Two weeks went by and I noticed that the male was a little more advanced than the female. He was running up our arm and hopping a little, as three week olds do. She was still crawling and her eyes were not bright and shiny, and one eye half opened. It was at that point that I decided to supplement her feedings. I fed her twice a day a mixture of the puppy replacer (1/2 t) and Bourbon's Modified Leadbeaters (1/8 t) mixed together in a syringe. For the first couple of days I just had to squirt it on my hand and she would lick it off. On the third day she actually drank straight from the syringe. Here is a picture demonstrating how to hold a joey while handfeeding. At four weeks she is drinking about 1/2 teaspoon per serving. This could vary depending on your glider's size. They will become uninterested when full and their bellies will be slightly extended horizontally.
Back to Jules: Jules doesn't seem to be able to produce enough milk for two joeys, but fine with one. I had heard about Brisky's Booster milk and I sprinkle two pinches on her food at night. This seems to help with milk production.
|She is two days away from being a month old in this picture. I believe that her parents have scratched her eye and nose which shows in the picture and that is why she is unable to open that eye completely. After 4 days of supplementing, she is now growing. She is still at the crawling stage and has not caught up with her brother, but we know she is on her way.|
|One of the reasons I decided to leave her with her parents is because I don't think they rejected her at one week. I think she was hanging on when mom came out, was weak from the milk supply, and fell off. I do believe because of Jules's size that she may not ever be able to carry a baby full term. She also may not be able to produce enough milk for two joeys. As long as the joeys are sucking, she will continue to produce. Supplementing partially allows her to also continue to nurse on her mother and stay within the family unit. Marsupial milk(Possum Milk Replacer) is really the best nutrition for the babies, plus the joeys also lose body heat very quickly and parents are able to regulate that temperature. I believe had I not supplemented her diet she would have died or they would have rejected her.|
In humans, if they are nervous about motherhood, they are unable to 'let down' when they are nursing. This is possibly what happened with Gizmo. There is a possibility Gizmo was nervous and her milk would not release, therefore the baby dehydrated and died. Gizmo never threw her baby out and was sad when he died. We will not know if Tiny Tim had a birth defect or he was born with only 3 1/2 limbs. Unless I have her tested we will not know whether she had Bovine Mastitis either. This is always a possibility. Gizmo will not breed again until this is resolved.
Jules, at 2 can now successfully nurse two healthy joeys with the help of Brisky's Booster Milk. She is a good Mommy.
Mama will be happy making babies the rest of her life.
As you can see all situations can be different. I would advise however, to wait until your glider is one year before mating, and if you ever hear a joey crying excessively, look in the pouch and don't see mom nursing them, you might want to consider being Mom yourself. If you do, it is a long battle, so you might want to try the alternative of supplemental feeding. I hope this has helped those who have had questions or fears about their first babies.
I wanted to thank Maria for kindly stepping in with some good advice and experience!