Sugar Gliders who are bonded to their humans are loyal for life! It is the ultimate trust between you and your glider. They’ll come when called, they’ll follow you around, and will sometimes bring you gifts! This is one of the many reasons why Sugar Gliders make popular companions. In order to achieve this level of trust with your gliders, it's important that you are patient and attentive to your gliders while you're going through the bonding process.
When you get your new gliders home:
Let them rest for 3 – 4 days to acclimate to their new surroundings. Remember they have just left their home and will be scared. Expect crabbing. You may place a small article of cloth with your scent in the cage while they're settling into their new home. This will allow the gliders to get used to your scent.
Bonding is best during the morning and afternoon. Gliders are nocturnal and will want to play during the late evenings and all night. You can stay up and watch them play in their cage at night but do not try to take them out of their cage at this time. Sometimes feeding your gliders treats while they are awake will help the bonding process. Some people also do “tent time” during the evenings as a way to get your gliders used to you. Do not attempt these activities if your gliders seem anxious or afraid! If they are telling you to back off, then you may need to take your bonding process more slowly and just stick to mornings until they are more comfortable.
It is good to keep your gliders' cage in the most active room in the house so they get used to regular noises and voices. They will settle and become a part of your family very quickly.
Morning & Afternoons: This is their “non- active time”. While they have no problems being awake during the day, they are much less energetic and usually choose to sleep during this time. You can use a bonding pouch (left image) to carry your gliders around for bonding, or you can take their sleeping pouch out (with the gliders still in them) and place them on a flat surface. Gently open up your gliders' pouch and let them see what's going on around them. Do not reach in at them - your hand is big and scary and this may provoke a bite! Allow the gliders to get used to your voice and your presence. You can offer them some treats (live mealworms are great!) Do not take them out of the pouch unless they walk out on their own. Once they feel comfortable, they’ll start eating. You can then reach in slowly with your hand flat, and start petting their backs. Do this consistently every day for about 15-30 minutes. Move very slowly and talk very gently.
Evening & Night time: Sugar Gliders are nocturnal. They thrive at night and show their true personalities at this time! “Tent Time” is the best way to bond with them in the evenings & nights. The only things you’ll need are: a tent, toys, treats, and your gliders! You’ll want to sit on the floor with toys and treats surroundings you. Your gliders will start exploring and checking things out. They may run up to you or try to climb on you. Use toys and treats to interact with your gliders without trying to hold them or pick them up. Wiggle a feather in front of them and watch them pounce like a cat! Tie a strip of fleece on the end of your finger and wiggle the fabric. Gliders love to play with plastic cookie cutters, wiffle balls, bird toys, plastic bracelets... you can even use a drinking straw that’s been curled with a pencil sharpener! Use your imagination! Finding out what you both like to play with is part of the fun!
If you do not have a tent, make sure you block off all possible exits from the room and make sure you block off all furniture that they can get into.
Teaching your glider to ride on your shoulders
When your gliders are more comfortable with you, you can teach them to ride on your shoulders. Scoop him/her up and let them walk up to your shoulders. The first few times you do this, you’ll want to keep your hand on them, petting him while they’re on your shoulders. Proceed to walk around the room. Gliders generally won’t jump if you’re moving. So the best place to stop is in front of their cage! Have the door open so you can direct them inside. After a successful round, leave your arm in the open door of the cage to go again! They’ll want to come back onto your arm again for another trip around the room. This is how you teach him to come to you!
Biting: Tips & Tricks
Never put your fingers up to their mouths or faces. Never grab them from in front. Handle them with your fingers close together, like a mitten. If you scoop them from the sides vs grabbing at them from the top, you won't appear as a threat and you should never develop a bad habit. Keep your fingers away from their mouths so they don’t bite out of fear! If you allow them to bite in the beginning, they will form a very bad habit. You need to change the way that you're trying to handle the glider to prevent them from thinking this is okay in the future. If your glider bites you, tell them “NO” in a loud and breathy voice. Do not blow in their faces.
Any scared glider can bite. A helpful trick is to keep their mouth busy with yummy treats. You can also dip your finger in vanilla or fruit flavored yogurt, with your hand palm side up, slowly approach the glider with your finger below the height of their head. If they try to bite they will get a mouth full of yogurt and will start licking you instead. This will teach your glider that your approach is always positive.
Remember to always be gentle. You want to discourage them but never scare them. Never introduce negative actions with your glider or they will associate something bad happening when you are around. Try to make all interactions positive, even if your glider is a bit negative. Positive reinforcement will encourage positive bonding.
Can Gliders be Potty Trained?
When you first wake up, you go to the bathroom. Gliders are no different! They have a tendency to “go on the go”. You should be prepared for small accidents, but you can prevent some. One way is to put them on top of their cage when you first pull them out. Lifting the tail slightly will encourage the release. You can also place them over a sink or trash can when you first take them out. Don’t forget to give them a treat each time they release themselves in the proper place. Giving them a treat every time will encourage them to potty in the right place every time.
My Gliders Are Still Scared of Me
Please remember that all sugar gliders are different. Some bond faster than others, and some will need more patience. You should never rush the bonding process. It is a matter of trust between human and glider. While the information above will help a lot, there a few things to keep in mind:
- Age is not important. It’s a matter of personality. All Sugar Gliders have different personalities, and thus, bonding will vary on each glider.
- No glider should live alone. Always keep them in pairs or more. This will make bonding with humans much easier if they have another friend to communicate with and help them feel secure!
- Never chase them around the cage for any reason. This will only frighten them and hinder your bonding process. If you have to take them out, wait for them to go inside their pouch so you can remove the gliders in their pouch.
- If children are handling the gliders, remind them to be quiet and not make sudden movements!
- Never allow them to bite you, even if it’s a nibble. Always discourage this behavior and redirect their attention.
- Patience is very important. Some gliders take months to warm up! There can also be factors in the home making your gliders uncomfortable that you may need to consider. Some gliders react poorly to candles or strong scents in their room. Make sure to keep their cage away from a window or bright sunlight. Keep other pets from hanging around their cage and pestering your gliders. Try to think about anything that may be disturbing them!
As always, The Pet Glider is here to help with any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to contact us!