Flying Squirrel Sex Education 200 #3

Who produces this plug and what is its purpose?

Poll ended at Sat Jan 28, 2006 7:40 pm

Produced by the male to prevent other males from coputating with the female until she is fertilized.
3
38%
Produced by the female to prevent the escape of sperm.
4
50%
Produced by both to ensure pregnancy results.
1
13%
 
Total votes: 8

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Flying Squirrel Sex Education 200 #3

Postby Joan » Fri Jan 20, 2006 7:40 pm

Immediately after mating a large mucilaginous (mucus) plug sometimes blocks the female's vagina.
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Postby Joan » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:37 pm

Now this one is very interesting as the mucus plug is produced by the male to prevent other males from coputating with the female until she is fertilized.
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Postby david_594 » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:02 pm

I could be wrong and maybe this isnt what I am looking at.... but for those who have seen it? Does this look like it could be a mucus plug like you guy are talking about?

Image

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Postby Joan » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:06 pm

I don't know David. The picture's a little fuzzy. I've never seen a plug ... no way my Mishi would hold still for me to look. :twisted:
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Postby david_594 » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:17 pm

I am really hoping it is... Otherwise she is leaking something weird(but I kind of doubt it based on the clearness of it).

So anyone ever have their squirrel x-rayed or an ultrasound down to check for pregnancy?

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Postby Joan » Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:28 pm

david_594 wrote:... So anyone ever have their squirrel x-rayed or an ultrasound down to check for pregnancy?


That's pretty extreme as they would have to have anaesthesia to do this. You'll know within 40 days.
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Postby david_594 » Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:30 am

Joan wrote:That's pretty extreme as they would have to have anaesthesia to do this. You'll know within 40 days.


X-rays could be easily pulled off without anesthesia. Ultrasound would require sedation and be much harder due to the size(and messier). I work for a vet who does exotics and is a board certified reproduction specialist. X-rays would be more for curiosities sake than anything, and I wouldn't consider ultrasound unless medically necessary as sedating rodents is fairly risky.

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Postby Joan » Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:26 pm

david_594 wrote: ... X-rays could be easily pulled off without anesthesia.


A flyer is gonna hold still for an x-ray? :?
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Postby david_594 » Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:41 pm

Joan wrote:A flyer is gonna hold still for an x-ray? :?


Sitting them on a tray and give them a small treat at the same time and I am pretty confident they will be still enough for the 1/120 of a second you would need. Its not looking for hairline cracks in bones, simply looking to count skulls doesn't take a ton of accuracy.

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Postby Judy C. » Sat Jan 05, 2008 4:42 pm

Looks to me like she is just peeing.....something that they are VERY good at!!

What would be the point of having an X-ray done? I would assume that they would have to be a certain number of days pregnant before anything would show up, and their gestation period is so short anyhow. Seems like it would be a waste of money and unnecessary stress on the flyer just to satisfy a curiosity that will be satisfied by the natural progression of events in a matter of a few more weeks.

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Postby Joan » Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:02 pm

Plus possible fetal damage from x-rays. Wouldn't be worth the risk to me.
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Postby david_594 » Sat Jan 05, 2008 10:57 pm

Its definitely not urine as the consistency is that of a gel.

Joan wrote:Plus possible fetal damage from x-rays. Wouldn't be worth the risk to me.


The x-rays would be done by a veterinarian who is board certified in reproduction. They would be done roughly a week before expected birth to determine the number of pups she would be expecting and is a very common practice in other animals. So I would side with the opinion of my vet that it is safe.

My biggest regret is not having grabbed a swab of the gel when I first observed it. Could have checked it out to see if sperm was present in it as that would have given a definitive answer.

I guess it would be even more insane to discuss the application of other reproductive techniques to rodents. Or to ask for an explanation given for the answer to the poll question this thread originally asked. I was taught in college that the purpose of the mucus plug in rodents was to prevent the loss of sperm from inside the female and not to prevent another male from copulating with her.

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Postby WantsAFlyer » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:03 am

It still seems extremely pointless to perform an x-ray on a pregnant flying squirrel for the sole purpose of determining the number of pups she would have. An x-ray alone runs about $60-85, not including the office visit fee. It would be around $100 just to find something out a week early, and honestly it would probably cost even more than that considering you're at an exotic vet. It's wasteful to put that kind of money out for a useless reason when you can be saving it for emergencies. X-rays may be common practice in other animals, but you have to remember the reason behind wanting to know how many will be in a litter. It's because they want to know what their chances of needing to get a cesarean section done on their animal will be! Flying squirrels rarely (if at all) need c-sections. You have to realize that it's hard enough to know when they are in labor, let alone realize when they got pregnant in the first place!
Joan, think of having an x-ray done on an animal like this: you get more radiation when you get an x-ray at your dentist :roll: . However, I might be worried about the stress of the whole experience on an expecting mother, as Judy already suggested.
I don't understand your "insane" comment. I've only seen reasonable questions from everyone, but your posts seem to be getting meaner and meaner. If you had a problem with the answer to the question why didn't you just ask about it? If the information is wrong then I'm sure Joan didn't put it there intentionally, she was just trying to share an interesting fact. And I'm sure everyone on here would be happy to hear about the application of other reproductive techniques to rodents.
Sorry that this post is so long everyone.

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Postby david_594 » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:37 am

The question about ultrasounding and x-raying was more of a joke than anything to begin with....

It is just my opinion that a squirrel could have an x-ray done to check for pregnancy without sedation. Not trying to sound mean, I am just trying to convey the fact that I feel it could be done. I can also completely respect the opinion of anyone with first hand experience taking x-rays of rodents who will disagree with me on this.

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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:09 am

WantsAFlyer wrote:... Joan, think of having an x-ray done on an animal like this: you get more radiation when you get an x-ray at your dentist :roll: .


Yea, but that's me, not a 4 oz pregnant flyer. And my teeth, not a pregnant uterus. I'm more paranoid than you about radiation. And besides, Mishi refuses to get her annual dental x-rays. :twisted: Do you think I've unduly influenced her. LOL

WantsAFlyer wrote:... However, I might be worried about the stress of the whole experience on an expecting mother, as Judy already suggested.


With mine, I'd be worried about my fingers 'cause Mishi isn't going to sit still for it... treat or not :roll: I guess duct tape might do it. :twisted:
Last edited by Joan on Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:17 am

david_594 wrote:The question about ultrasounding and x-raying was more of a joke than anything to begin with....


Sometimes it helps to add a :wink: when kidding. That way people won't take a statement other than the way you meant. Can help avoid confusion and serious comments when you were not really serious.
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Postby Judy C. » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:28 am

David, I am sure that it probably COULD be done. What I question is whether it SHOULD be done, and why anyone would want to in the first place? I must say that I don't think it would be as easy as you seem to think.....

"Sitting them on a tray and give them a small treat at the same time and I am pretty confident they will be still enough for the 1/120 of a second you would need. Its not looking for hairline cracks in bones, simply looking to count skulls doesn't take a ton of accuracy."

Getting a flyer that you have gotten up in the middle of her 'night' and plopped down on a cold table with a piece of pecan, in a strange place surrounded by strange people with the expectation that she will sit still at all is pretty far fetched! And if you think that no blood would be shed...well, better re-think that one! Flyers are known for many things, but patience and cooperation are not among them. And flyers late in their pregnancy have the disposition of a Tasmanian Devil/Rattlesnake cross.

Why X-ray rather than palpation? I know that vets can tell how many puppies a dog will have. I realize that a flyer is very small, but a good vet should be able to feel something, I would think.

Having been pregnant a couple of times myself, I know first hand how all the poking and proding can drive you crazy. It's a wonder more women don't bite their OBs, especially during delivery, when he walks in and says "Well, how are we doing so far? Having any pain yet?" (I told one of my doctors that I didn't know how HE was doing, but that I was hurting like hell and ready to get this over with, and that if he wasn't dropping in to tell me that it was time to deliver then he could go back and play another round of golf, and wipe that friendly, benevolent smile off his face while he was at it!!)

So remember this, David, and it will serve you well in later life.....Pregnant females are not cooperative - in fact, they aren't even very friendly.


Judy

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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:52 am

Judy C. wrote:David, I am sure that it probably COULD be done. What I question is whether it SHOULD be done, and why anyone would want to in the first place?


Judy, this is something I wonder about too. In what way would it be medically indicated? I'm sure a board certified vet would not be doing any procedure out of curosity. Why do people want to know the number of pups? What difference does it make in flyers?
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Postby WantsAFlyer » Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:29 pm

Haha ok David, no hard feelings? :cool: I know how frustrating it can be to convey a point on the internet. Sometimes posts come out sounding completely different than intended (mine seems pretty rude by the way, sorry :oops:).
Joan wrote:Yea, but that's me, not a 4 oz pregnant flyer. And my teeth, not a pregnant uterus. I'm more paranoid than you about radiation. And besides, Mishi refuses to get her annual dental x-rays. Do you think I've unduly influenced her. LOL
Joaaan :roll: , I meant metaphorically! :wink: I wonder if it really would be dangerous to the pups (not like you would get an x-ray done, but I'm just curious). David can you ask your vet about the risks?
Judy C. wrote:Pregnant females are not cooperative - in fact, they aren't even very friendly.
Too true. Joan, I think Mishi would change their minds about x-rays. :evilbat:

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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:25 pm

david_594 wrote: ... I guess it would be even more insane to discuss the application of other reproductive techniques to rodents.


Not at all. What kind of techniques are you talking about? I agree that little is known about flyers and less published about reproduction in them than mice and rats. Most vets have not taken a selective in wildlife. There are no medical texts on flyers and most professionals have to extropolate what they can find on rodents in exotic texts and try to apply it to flyers.
Rehabbers seem to be the exception and have a lot of first hand experience that doesn't generally get into the professional literature.


david_594 wrote: ... Or to ask for an explanation given for the answer to the poll question this thread originally asked.


The poll question was taken from Nancy Wells-Gosling's book, Flying Squirrels: Gliders in the Dark (p. 25), which is the most comprehensive (as far as I know ... Judy, do you have anything more current?) and only book published about NA flyers. Breeding behaviors vary among rodents "in some species matings with several males can result in the young of a single litter having different fathers." This does not appear to be true with flyers, according to Wells-Gosling's observations. "Will the female mate with more than one male, or a subordinate male, as tree squirrels do? Again, we don't know. Immediately after mating a large mucilaginous plug sometimes blocks the female's vagina, a condition that occurs in many female rodents. This mass is excluded by the male and probably functions to keep other males from copulating with her until she is fertilized. Thus, successive matings might not be productive."

Well-Gosling does not state this as definitive, but for purposes of the "test" :wink: , her speculation was accepted. Actually, DNA evidence would probably be necessary to prove this as absolute fact.


david_594 wrote: I was taught in college that the purpose of the mucus plug in rodents was to prevent the loss of sperm from inside the female and not to prevent another male from copulating with her.


This may be true for some rodents, but "a rodent is a rodent is a rodent" doesn't seems to hold forth given the variations in squirrels alone. This is where specific studies on flying squirrels is need to increase our knowledge about our furry buddies. But, if you have citations specific to flyers, I'd really appreciate the source as I'm always trying to learn more.
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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:31 pm

WantsAFlyer wrote:... Joaaan :roll: , I meant metaphorically! :wink:


You're messng with my head aren't you? Careful, I have so little left. :twisted:
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Postby david_594 » Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:55 pm

Joan wrote:[b]The poll question was taken from Nancy Wells-Gosling's book, Flying Squirrels: Gliders in the Dark (p. 25), which is the most comprehensive (as far as I know ... Judy, do you have anything more current?) and only book published about NA flyers.


I'll have to see if I can track down a copy of this in the future(unavailable from amazon :( )

WantsAFlyer wrote: Joaaan , I meant metaphorically! Wink I wonder if it really would be dangerous to the pups (not like you would get an x-ray done, but I'm just curious). David can you ask your vet about the risks?


Actually like a week after I initially asked him, he asked me when I was planning to bring her in. We discussed it briefly and he didnt seem to feel there would be negative side affects to it. We would have to wait till roughly the last week of gestation waiting for calcification of the bone, so that they would actually appear on the x-ray(at which point it would be obvious if she is pregnant or not.

I asked him about any books on rodent reproduction and he said he is going to see what he can find for me on the topic.

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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:30 pm

david_594 wrote: ...I'll have to see if I can track down a copy of this in the future(unavailable from amazon :(


David, it's out of print and sometimes difficult to find at a price one would be willing to pay. Sometimes it's on eBay. You might check with sites that sell out of print books.
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Postby david_594 » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:32 pm

There are a few copies listed as used on amazon for around $80. Is that about right for the book?

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Postby Joan » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:42 pm

I think I paid $40 for a hardback, but you have to look around for awhile to find that kind of deal.

Softback $53.99 to $175.90 http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl ... 8_1:55:307

Softback $50 http://search.half.ebay.com/flying-squi ... theQ20dark
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Postby Katie » Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:36 pm

Ok, here's what this vet has to say about this topic. First, I'm with Joan, why radiograph any animal that doesn't need it. However, we have radiographed lots of critters - pet birds, chinchillas, guinea pigs and many other pocket/small pets. So, I don't know that one radiograph, if performed correctly, would cause any harm to either mom or babies. But anytime a radiograph is taken, the pet expereiences some radiation. David's vet is right - you must wait until towards the end of the pregnancy to see fetuses, as the bones must be calcified. With that being said, a more sensitive method is available that poses no threat to mom or babies - ultrasound. Just like in humans, you can look for the heart-beat, but there are a few problems - if there are many babies, it may be hard to get an accurate count - a heartbeat could be missed or counted more than once. Also, it takes longer than taking a radiograph, but it is easier to hold the pet, since there is no radiation threat to the handlers. I do not know of anyone who has perfomed ultrasound on a small critter (although I'm sure they're out there), so I don't know how sensitive it would be.
So, the long and short of it - you could do it, but why go through the struggle of stressing mom out?

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Postby Katie » Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:51 pm

By the way, I am not an exotics or reproductive specialist - that was my opinion as a veterinarian that owns flyers. And I wouldn't be able to take a radiograph or do an ultrasound on either of my furballs - they're way too squirmy, with or without a treat in hand!

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Postby david_594 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:15 pm

Thanks Katie. Talking with my vet we didn't even really consider ultrasound because sedation would have been necessary.

The X-ray we figured could have been pulled off with the help of a paper towel tube.


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