Q&A: How to Start the Bonding Process

Start Bonding With A Sugar GliderQ: I have a female sugar glider I bought 2 days ago. When I play with her in the afternoon she seems to be nice. But in the evening or at night when I wanted to take her out and bond with her, she acted differently, screaming and its fierce. She is very aggressive. She makes me feel like she wants to attack/bite and that scares me off from taking her out. In the middle of night, she keeps making loud noise but there’s nothing bothering/touching her. I am afraid to play with her. Why does she behave so aggressive? What can i do to solve this problem?

A: Gliders need a few days to get used to their new environment, so you just need to give her a little time to get comfortable in her new home. She also doesn’t know you yet, so to her, you are just a giant scary predator.

She is probably calmer and easier to handle during the day because she is sleepy. The screaming sound you are describing is probably “crabbing” and it means your glider is scared. It’s just a sound she is making to tell you to back off, and she is trying to protect herself. It does not necessarily mean she is aggressive.

The loud noise she makes at night is called barking, and this is normal. Some gliders will bark at night, and as a glider owner, it is something you have to get used to. This may let up once she gets more comfortable in her new home, but it may continue. It is a sound gliders use to call to other gliders, so it is just normal communication.

There are some things you can do to help her get used to you and learn that you are her friend. You can start by sitting near her cage and talking to her in a calm, soothing voice so she can get used to the sound of your voice. Offer her some small treats through the cage so she associates positive things with your presence.

You can also drape a piece of your clothing that you have just worn over the cage so she can get used to your scent. Gliders recognize members of their colony by scent, so if you smell unfamiliar to her, she will be scared of you. You can also wear a small piece of fleece and then put it into her pouch so she can use it as a blankie and it will also help her get used to your scent.

If she starts crabbing at you, just stay calm and don’t run away. You need to show her that you are her friend, and if you let her scare you, you will reinforce her behavior. She will sense your fear, so you have to stay calm and be patient with her.

Once she starts getting more comfortable with you and her new environment, you should start wearing her in a pouch close to your heart during the daytime. This will really help the bonding process. You can put a pouch in her cage and when she falls asleep in the morning in the pouch, you can take it out and put it around your neck and tuck it into your shirt. If she crabs, you can pet her gently through the pouch and talk to her in a soothing voice until she calms down. Offer her some treats in the pouch as well so she knows you are a friend.

You should also offer a treat when you let her out at night to play. You can also try licky treats, honey or yogurt on your finger, but be careful because they can bite when the food is all licked off.

The most important thing you can do is just be patient. Gliders will take their time bonding with you, so you will have to go at her pace. Once she bonds with you, it will be a lot easier to handle her.

Q&A: How do I get my sugar glider to play?

Sugar Glider PlayQ: I have a 9 month old male, got him at 6 months, he had never bonded with anyone. He gets up at about 8 pm and goes to bed at about 7 am. I keep him in my shirt pocket all day. When I get him out of my pocket he wants to go right back in, like he is shy. How do I get him to play?

A: Sugar gliders can be really timid.  I would keep encouraging your boy to get off your body and explore.  Do you have toys around that he can play with?  Are there things to climb on?  Try putting him somewhere where he can climb, like the curtains, and step away to let him explore.

If he tries to come back to you, take him off your body again.  Be persistent in this so he becomes more comfortable off your body.

One thing I do with my glider is put treats around the room for her to find while she plays.  I have a fake plant that she loves to climb, and I’ll put some treats in the pot for her to find.

Another thing you can try is getting a ball (usually made for hamsters) that you can put him in.  He can run around the house while feeling secure.  Some gliders like this and others don’t.  My sugar glider does not like being put in a ball because she’d rather explore, but if your boy is afraid, maybe he’ll feel safe in there to run around.

If you’re persistent in making your baby explore off your body, he should become more and more comfortable with it.  It will probably take time and patience, but when he starts to climb and play, it will be so much fun.

Q&A: What is the best way to pick up a sugar glider from the cage?

How To Pick Up A GliderQ: A friend of mine just gave me her sugar glider because she no longer had time for it. Now that I have him in my home, I am kind of scared to pick him up out of his cage because I’m afraid he will get away from me. What is the best way/time to pick them up out of their cages? I don’t want him to suffer from depression from not having enough bonding time, but I also don’t want to lose him. Is there anything you can suggest for my problem?

A: The best time for play is in the evening or at night. This is when your glider will naturally be waking up and ready to start his day. I usually like to allow my sugar glider some time in her cage after she wakes up before I let her out because she urinates and defecates quite a bit.

To pick your glider up, use a cupping motion with your hand and let the glider jump onto your hand.  It’s easier to let your glider cling onto you rather than trying to grab at your glider.

If this doesn’t work and your glider runs away from you, you can just wait until your glider goes into its pouch and take the pouch out and then kind of just turn the pouch inside out to get your glider to come out.

Before you’re ready to start play time, you need to decide if you want your sugar glider to mainly stay with you on your body or if you want him to have more freedom to explore. You might want to find out how your friend raised him to know what to expect of his habits.

If you want him to mainly stay with you, you need to pick him up and put him back on your body whenever he jumps off. If you do this enough, he will stop trying to get away from you. You can allow him off your body to play and with persistence, you can train him to come back to you when you call his name. You can do this by coaxing him with a treat.

If you want to allow him more freedom, you need to make sure your room is sugar glider proofed so that he cannot get out. I use weather stripping at the bottom of my doors to make sure my little girl can’t get out. Then, once you’re sure the room is secure, you can allow him to explore as he pleases.

He is going to want to climb anything he can, whether it be door frames or curtains. You should supervise his play time to make sure he stays safe. As you watch him explore, you will see what he can and cannot get into, such as drawers, your closet, floor vents (which you’ll want to close),
etc. If you keep a close eye on your glider, you should quickly figure out what kind of adjustments you need to make to keep your glider and your things safe.

Sugar gliders will urinate and defecate whenever and wherever they please, so be prepared to clean up after him whenever he is out for play time. Don’t be scared to let your little guy explore and be patient as you and him are both learning how to play together.

Q&A: Is it difficult to bond with an adult sugar glider?

Bonding With An Adult GliderQ: I am considering adopting an adult glider. A friend has one and wishes to give it to me. Will it be more difficult for it to bond than a baby. What other problems might I consider?

A: Bonding with an adult sugar glider is more difficult than bonding with a baby, but it is not impossible.  It takes more time and patience, but after a while, you should be able to form a strong bond with your glider.

If possible, try to get acquainted with the glider before you take it home.  Go to your friend’s place and wear the glider around your neck (close to your heart) for a short time each day before you bring it home with you.

It will be best to keep the cage the glider has been living in and leave it in the same condition as it was before bringing it to your place.  The glider may experience some depression or withdrawal from its previous home, but as it becomes more comfortable with you, the bonding process will become easier.

Each glider is different, so everything will depend on the glider’s personality.  My glider loves exploring new surroundings, but other gliders might be afraid of new surroundings.  As long as you provide a safe and stable environment for your glider and give it enough attention, you will be able to bond and have yourself a loyal, wonderful pet!

Sugar Glider Bonding

Sugar Glider BondingSugar glider bonding is important whether you have a baby or an adult. Bonding with adults might be more difficult than bonding with a baby, but it is not impossible. I bonded with my sugar glider when she was about 10 months old. I am limited to discussing my experience and therefore cannot comment on bonding with a baby younger than 10 months. I also cannot comment on having multiple gliders as pets.

The first thing you need to have for the bonding process is a sugar glider bonding pouch. The pouch needs to be big enough for the sugar glider to sleep comfortably in and small enough for you to be able to wear it somewhere on your body, preferably close to your heart. My sugar glider had a bonding pouch when I got her from the pet store and she still uses it as her primary pouch 5 years later.

You want to make sure to wear your glider as much as possible when you first bring him/her home. I brought my glider to class with me in a zip pouch until I was comfortable wearing her around my neck in public. In the first weeks of having her, I would offer Pokey treats throughout the day to gain her trust and show her I was her friend.

She started to look forward to these treats as we got into a routine, and over time, she became more and more comfortable with me.  Throughout the bonding process and to this day, I wear my sugar glider around my neck as much as possible. Sugar gliders need this contact no matter what their age, so if you’re going to have a sole glider, make sure you can commit to giving them time and attention.

Another important aspect to sugar glider bonding is play time. You need to allow several hours each night for your sugar glider to be out of its cage. I have my room sealed so that my glider can run around freely. I do not make her stay on my person at all times. Some people prefer to keep their sugar glider on them, but I give my glider more freedom as she really enjoys exploring.

During play time, she will run around my room and climb the door frames and curtains but she will also come to me and hang out on my body. I sometimes like to take her into the living room or outside so she can look around, but I don’t let her off my body. If we are outside my bedroom and she jumps off of me, I will simply pick her up and put her back on my body and she usually will not try to jump off again.

One thing to remember is that sugar gliders can’t really be trained to only go to the bathroom in their cages. They will urinate and defecate whenever and wherever they please. If there are things in your room you want to keep clean, make sure to have them put away before play time. Otherwise, be prepared to clean up after your glider. And from time to time, your glider will probably have an accident on you. Don’t be mad, it’s all just part of the fun of sugar glider bonding!