Here are some great tips to help you with the bonding process with your new sugar glider!
Permit your sugar glider to become acclimated to its new cage and home before you begin disturbing it for playtime outside of the cage.
Successful bonding takes time and patience. Don't think in measurements of "days and weeks," instead; think in measurements of "weeks and months," perhaps even longer if your sugar glider has a history of abuse.
If your glider seems to be afraid of your hand, use a leash to let it feel free while bonding to you but you are still in control. This prevents your glider from running away and you grabbing it which is detrimental to the bonding process.
House your sugar glider in a room that feels safe to him or her during the transition period as you introduce yourself to your new pet. The goal is to establish your pet's trust and feeling of security. as soon as your baby feels safe move him to an area that has more people traffic so that folks say their name, offer a treat and pet them as they pass.
Remember that each sugar glider has a unique personality with distinct playtime likes and dislikes, and as such, may require a unique approach to bonding. So if you find that one approach isn't working, try something new! Don't accept a cookie-cutter approach to bonding. Be flexible and experiment with new ideas!
Place your sugar glider in your shirt pocket (or bonding pouch) during his or her daytime napping period to permit your pet to get used to your scent and sounds. At nighttime, he or she will want to be active and will not want to be confined to your pocket or bonding pouch.
Use your sugar glider's relatively less active daytime period as an opportunity for you to touch and pet your sleepy nocturnal pet. This helps him or her become accustomed to your touch and feel, as well as your scent.
Although sugar gliders will always be nocturnal, they may be disturbed for brief periods of time during the day for human contact. (Expect some crabbing at first though!) Daytime can be the ideal time to interact with your sugar glider while he/she is a bit dazed and slower to move. However, remember to keep your sugar glider protected from bright lights.
You can train your sugar glider to automatically wake up earlier in the evening by consistently arousing him or her at that time each day with a treat or favorite food to form a habit to wake at that time.
Don't grab at your sugar glider from the top to pick it up. Instead, offer it your cupped hand or back hand (palm down) to permit your pet to approach you in confidence. Most glider prefer that you scoop them up from down under them.
Use treats as a positive reinforcer to entice your sugar glider to come at the sound of your voice. Of course, be sure that you are making a good dietary choice and not ultimately creating a bigger feeding problem for your sugar glider. I usually use a tiny piece of apple for them to eat out of my hand.
Never use a negative reinforcer with your sugar glider under any circumstances. Punishment (like hitting, thumping, and squirting with water) is both abusive and unnecessary, and can consequently damage your bonding relationship.
Wear two shirts, placing the young joey between them on your chest or belly, to permit the baby sugar glider to become accustomed to your scent and sounds. In addition, he/she will likely feel very secure snuggled between the two layers of fabric against your warm body.
Place an unwashed clothing item you have recently worn (like a t-shirt) on top of the cage to help your sugar glider become accustomed to your scent. Keep in mind, some sugar gliders are cloth-shredders, so you'll want to closely watch your pet's behavior.
Bonding is a product of conditioned response. So, be consistent! In an effort to teach your sugar glider how to properly respond to your voice and presence, use identical steps or techniques over a long period of time, in order to train your pet. Practice, practice, practice.
Talk to your sugar glider constantly, to permit him or her to become familiar with your voice. Modulate your voice when making contact with your sugar glider. Use a soft, soothing tone.
Approach bonding as a series of increasing time increments. Begin the bonding experience with only a short 10-15 minute training session, once or twice per day. Gradually increase the length of contact over time, to ultimately enable your pet to tolerate several hours of direct contact with you.
When strangers visit, remember that their unfamiliar sounds and scents are likely to startle your sugar glider. Never let a stranger invade your sugar glider's cage without your supervision.
Always remain present, acting as your sugar glider's "safety net," when unfamiliar (or infrequent) visitors are making contact with your sugar glider. Even a knowledgeable veterinarian can cause undue stress to your sugar glider.
Dip your finger in honey or applesauce to entice your sugar glider to lick your finger. He or she will consequently associate your fingers with pleasant sensations and positive rewards.
If your sugar glider crabs or nips (bites) at you don't pull back. Don't withdraw and don't lunge at the animal either -- both have long lasting ill-effects on the bonding relationship. Instead, take a deep breath, grit your teeth, pause for a moment to permit your sugar glider to calm down, and then continue your bonding activity.
An independent sugar glider is not likely to return to its cage until he or she feels like it. To avoid trauma, don't start chasing or grabbing at the animal in order to return the sugar glider to its cage. Instead, remove the cage pouch from the cage, and use it as a safe and scented environment to coax the sugar glider to enter the pouch so that you can place the animal (once he/she is inside the pouch) back into the cage.
If your sugar glider is prone to ignore you and run away when you approach it to return it to the cage, use treats to entice it to come to you. Moreover, avoid giving the sugar glider treats during playtime, so that you may use treats to coax the sugar glider to its cage when playtime is over.
Use a "bonding blanket" (a small square piece of soft fabric preferably fleece) to make your sugar glider become familiar with your scent. Simply wear the bonding blanket next to your skin for at least a 24 hour period, then place the blanket in the sugar glider's sleeping pouch or nesting box. Replace the blanket with a newly scented one every couple of days.
Use playtime as an added opportunity to reinforce the bonding relationship by using interactive toys and games. Be very alert and aware of what your sugar glider is doing at all times while it is out of the cage. And utilize his or her natural instincts and curiosity as a way to become part of his/her world.
Be cautious of permitting young children to play with your sugar glider. Kids may make sudden moves, loud squeals, and even tight squeezes that can startle or injure the sugar glider. If you do allow kids to play with your glider, make sure they are supervised. Establishing a sense of security is the key to successful bonding.
Now that you have the bonding process completed, we hope you enjoy your new best friend!!