Bonding With Your Glider
You just got your new sugar glider and you don't know what to do! Many years ago I was in the same boat with a sweet baby boy and although the research had been done, having one in person is completely different and doing the recommended things seem impossible, right? I mean how can you just let them nip or bite you? Bonding may seem hard, but really the key to bonding is patience and understanding. Once this process has gotten to a certain point it is nothing but rewarding and it'll go uphill really fast. I have written this article to the best of my knowledge and have included the processes that work for me.
You just got home with your new joey or adult and you really want to get him or her out and cuddle but one look at you and they're crabbing their head off. I strongly recommend putting the glider in its pouch and placing it in its cage and new environment and leaving it alone for 2 days. Sometimes this isn't necessary because they don't crab at you or nip you and are the perfect little angels already because they were raised and handled daily by a loving and responsible previous owner, however most of the time this is not the case and I don't think that you would be reading this article if it was. The reason I recommend this is because the change of owner and environment is very stressful on a glider, not to mention the car or plane ride, getting used to a new owner right away will just add more stress and make you and your sweet furbaby frustrated. During these two nights feed your glider and pet him when he is eating if possible. Hopefully you have already been wearing an article of clothing for a few days to get used to the bonding process, when you first bring the glider home it is best to place this piece of clothing in with him right away. He will get used to this smell and be comfortable with it in his pouch or nesting box. This will help him feel more comfortable with you because what he has found to be safe and secure smells just like you! On the third day take your glider out and place him into a bonding pouch that you can wear on you all day with him sleeping in it. This will help him get used to your lifestyle and again, he is safe in that pouch but with you. While he is asleep in the bonding pouch get him used to your hands, open the pouch and pet him, try to gently place your hand under him and hold it there for as long as you want, for hours if you'd like. When he is awake give him some licky treats,
if he crabs or lunges don't pull your hand away (you don't want him to train you), he will probably get some of the licky treat on his nose and then he'll lick it off your finger. He may nip after the licky treat is gone, but do not be alarmed, they are sap suckers by nature and do this to see if anymore of that tasty treat is going to come out. Repeat this step as often as you like, just make sure it's a healthy treat! When you get home feed your glider and let him eat, when he is done eating give him some time to go potty and then take him out and take him into the tent or a glider proofed room (whichever you have decided on). Have some toys (feathers, balls with bells or noise makers in them, barrel of monkeys, strings of beads, etc.) and play with your glider. Let him chase the feather, crawl all over you, whatever it takes, try to keep his interest in you. All of these small steps are part of the bonding process.Your glider is getting to know and trust you while slowly becoming used to this new person in its life.
Biting: A Problem You May Encounter
Your new glider bites and you want him to stop. What can you do? You have to take the bite. If you pull your hand away and let him know that it bothers you, he is winning and he is training you. You need to give your glider licky treats and get him used to your fingers, when he nips hold still, don't scream, pull your hand away, or jump three feet into the air. Your glider will cut down on his biting and nipping if he knows that it is not doing him any good, it's not causing you to put him away and leave him alone.Whatever you do, do not wear gloves when you handle your glider. The gloves do nothing for the bonding process and frightens him even more, if nothing else, causing him to bite continually. Try not to grab your glider, if he doesn't feel like he is being contained or in danger he probably will not bite as often.
It's a long process and for some gliders it may take a lot longer to become bonded, but with the right qualities in an owner, it is possible to get any glider to bond. It doesn't matter if the glider is 8 weeks or 5 years old, all of them will show love to their owners once they learn to trust you. Some gliders are being given a second or third chance and their hearts have been shattered, it will take longer for that glider to trust you because their best friend didn't want them anymore or couldn't keep them anymore and they don't want to trust again only to have that trust broken.
Please remember that Sugar Gliders can build a very strong bond with their owners and they are a lifetime commitment of 10-12 years. Think about everything involved before getting a Sugar Glider. They have feelings and when they are bonded to somebody who gets rid of them it gets harder and harder for another person to bond with them, the gliders often become difficult and unwanted.