Bonding with a new sugar glider requires commitment and patience but, is well worth it in the end
Sugar gliders can be interesting and loving pets to own if one takes the time to properly bond with this unique pet. In most cases some initial bonding needs to take place and your sugar glider needs to develop some trust in you before he is every held or handled. This can be difficult for a new owner who wants to interact with their new pet the moment they bring them home. However, if you move to quickly to handle your glider before some initial trust is established you could frighten him to the point where the bonding process could take months or never happen at all. An unbonded glider is an unhappy glider and a disappointment to his owner as well.
How Long Does It Take To Establish Trust With You Glider
The length of time it takes for your glider to trust you enough to be comfortable being handled and held depends in large part upon where you glider comes from and how he was raised in those initial weeks of life. Pet store gliders are usually rarely handled after birth and have little interaction with humans. In addition since these are nocturnal creatures and pet stores operated during day time hours, a young glider can be traumatized simply by the “business as usual” policy of the stores. This can mean that earning that initial trust can be a long drawn out process that few pet owners have the patience or stamina to endure.
Getting your Joey from a large breeder who breeds these animals solely for the pet trade will result in many of the same problems as purchasing a Joey from a pet store. While most reputable large breeders do everything in the power to eliminate most of the “pet store” trauma for these animals, the joeys still aren't often introduced to human contact on a regular basis.
Your best bet is to find a small hobby breeder whose breeding gliders are family pets and the joeys are handled on a regular basis from the day they are born. The more joeys are handled in those early weeks, the easier it will be for them to trust the new humans in their lives. Many hobbies breeders go a step further and introduce their joeys to several people which makes it even easier for a joey to learn to trust new people.
Pre Bonding With Your Glider Can Help
I have discovered that having new owners pre bond with their new pet before the pet actual goes to their home can help. Gliders are very sensitive to new scents and the sound of people's voices. If a glider can associate your scent with having their needs met they will develop trust in you far faster than by simply being placed in a new home where everything is unfamiliar to them.
I often recommend to people adopting one of my gliders that they cut up an old shirt or skirt into squares, sleep with the squares for a night or two so that their scent will be strong and then place the squares into a sealed baggy and send it to me. When I then separate the joey from mom and dad I place these squares in the joeys sleeping bag, under their food dish, and at various points around their cage so that they begin to associate the scent of the owner to be with food and safety.
Not only does this begin to build a sense of trust between the new human scent and the glider but, it also helps the glider to adjust better and faster to his new home as he has that familiar scent for comfort with everything else being different.
Bonding With Your Glider Once He Comes Home
The first 24 to 48 hours your new glider is your home is critical to his adjustment. The strange surrounding will be somewhat traumatic for this little creature so you need to make sure that everything is as quiet and comfortable for him as possible and that he is disturbed as little as possible that first day.
Have his cage set up before you bring him home. Make sure that he has a sleeping bag, water, and a light snack available. Place a shirt you have recently worn around the back and sides of his cage leaving just the front open. This will not only provide him with a sense of security but, will surround him with your scent. Place him into the cage and leave him alone except for his nightly feeding.
If you would like you can sit in a chair near his cage and read to him or talk to him softly while he sleeps the day away to help him adjust to the sound of your voice.
Repeat this process again the second day only make sure that when he ventures out of his sleeping bag the second night to eat that you are close by to talk to him softly. He may scurry back to the bag at first but when he sees that your are not approaching he will soon forget your presence and begin to eat and play with your scent and voice in the background.
With that initial adjustment period out of the way you can begin the bonding process in earnest first, by using a bonding pouch to carry your glider around during the day while he is sleeping. Then begin offering tasty treats allowing him to reach outside the cage to take them from your hand, and then when he does this regularly try putting the treat in you palm and reaching inside the cage and letting him climb on your hand to get the treat.
One he does this you can then start using a small glider proof room or pup tent for playtime allowing him to climb on you and then explore at will. At first he will prefer to explore and be a bit shy of you but, eventually he start coming back to explore you more and more often. In time, and with patience your glider will begin to see you as a member of his colony and feel as safe with you as he does other gliders.
While bonding with a glider takes some effort and a lot of patience it time well spent. Some gliders bond within just a few days and others can take weeks or even months. The calmer and more patient your are the sooner your glider will come to trust, love, and depend on you not only to meet his needs but, for companionship as well.