Taming or bonding, a guideline for new sugar glider owners.
Taming or bonding, a guideline for new sugar glider owners.
This is a guideline for new owners to help them slowly bond/tame their new suggie pet. It is designed for a person that had no idea what they were purchasing and to try to help them be calm and have confidence in taming their sugar glider. What we have to remember is that gliders are all different with unique personalities and will calm, tame, or bond at different speeds. The thing for new people is to be very calm and quiet and watch your suggie's behavior and body language. Try not to corner or scare your baby into attacking you or biting at your hand. Try to get your suggie on a consistent routine when feeding, talking to your baby, same soft voice, same recognition noise, move very slowly and let your baby see you coming toward them, even if it is from across the room. This is just one way to bond and as an experienced suggie owner, I have tried to put myself in the position of being a new owner, so that I can see how the new person would feel and to possibly see it through the glider's eyes as you would watch your sugar glider's eyes to be able to tell when he/she is scared and when to back off or go slower in bonding. As with any wild animal (such as a rabbit) that you may walk up to in the woods, if you stop and stand still the critter will not run unless you move or scare it. So if we apply this to our new glider and if you see it get scared, just stand or hold still until the suggie moves or calms down.
Let's try to look at where your sugar glider MAY have come from and try to look at it through the suggie's eyes, so we can understand why they act the way they do and why they are so scared and labeled (incorrectly) mean! There are all kinds of people that breed sugar gliders, and there are even places that farm sugar gliders. Some small breeders handle their parents and babies, some handle babies separate from the parents and play with the parents. Some don't handle the parents, don't handle the babies and are considered people that FARM the sugar gliders. There are persons that broker these farmed sugar gliders at the boat shows, the gun shows, flea markets, and anywhere there is a large group of people. They are not at some animal trade shows that educate their owners and that have the actual breeders of their specific critters.
Let's look at what the baby suggie goes through before he/she gets to the broker's at the shows. They are raised in small cages probably 2 by 2 by 2 or smaller as that is the size cages that they sell you at a show. Suggies are arboreal animals - that means they live or forage in the tree tops out in their native habitat. The people that farm gliders have persons that come in and feed and clean the tiny cages. The adults are wild and not tamed as pets, so the baby gets scared when the parents hear people talking or hears the persons removing the catch pans for cleaning. The baby glider will learn trust or fear from the parent sugar glider. So the baby that has scared parents of humans or of human voices has already learned fear of people and their voices. Then when a person comes in and grabs the baby glider from its parents (often way too young to be away from its mom as they are not fully weaned yet) and puts it in a travel cage with 20-50 other baby suggies of the same sex, the baby is scared of the hand that grabbed it from the parents. Then at the show it is grabbed again by a strange hand before you buy it and take home your supposedly tamed sugar glider. The glider would have an extreme fear of any human or any hand that comes toward it, whether it has a treat or not. From his/her point of view I see no reason this glider should trust any human being when it has been man handled from its first encounter with a human hand, and it probably is scared of any human voice also as it associates being grabbed with a voice.
Also pushing down on a scared glider while it is in the pouch may hurt your baby and is not a good calming method with a newly acquired sugar glider. The reason why is because your glider has no trust or bond with you or your hand and the pressure is just scaring them or dominating them. After you have a bond then applying a slight pressure when you move the glider in the pouch becomes a reassurance touch and cuddling so the glider doesn't feel like it is falling when you walk around. Thatís where timing (to me) is the most important part of bonding. In other words, when to move forward or when to slow down in taming your baby, by taking your cues by the way the glider reacts toward us humans. The second thing is to be CALM and not emotional or scared as animals can sense fear! EXAMPLE: If your glider is friendly while you are in a tent or when they are in their cage and they come up to you or at least donít run and hide when they see you. Then when you have them in the pouch the suggie gets scared then putting your hand over the glider in the pouch and/or petting them may calm them down and could be reassuring to them, instead of scaring them and possibly squishing them on the first day after you purchased them. Whatever you do when bonding, playing, or feeding you have to put yourself in the glider's shoes and ask yourself, "How would I feel if somebody did this to me? How would I react if I was scared and somebody chased me or how would I like to eat dry pellets and a slice of apple and a slice of bread?" Suggies are omnivores. They need protein (bugs), veggies and fresh fruits to make dinner interesting, to make it taste good, and to give a variety that is good for them. The same thing applies to any bonding, training, taming, handling, of your baby suggie. Try to think of how YOU would feel if a stranger did this to you.
Also common sense goes a long way in deciding whether this thing you are doing to your sugar glider is being respectful to your pet and family member. Or could it possibly hurt or maim or kill your glider? Then common sense and looking or seeing how the suggie would feel would tell us humans not to do it because we wouldn't like it done to us. Every sugar glider deserves a loving home with a loving family, no matter where they started from. What matters is how we treat them in their new home: with respect and love for this precious little furry creature that you fell in love with from the first time you saw one. The crabbing, biting, lunging can be overcome with calm love, patience, and lots of understanding of what the baby has gone through and making its life so much better. Enjoy them for who they are and make them part of your family.
If you feel your glider is sick, please seek immediate veterinary assistance. The information on this page and in the correlating articles is for general educational purposes and is not intended to replace proper vet care. Please do not try to self-diagnose or self-treat your glider.