Socialization and Bonding
Now we get to the fun part about being owned by sugar gliders. You want a pet that will be your companion and "connect" with you in a special way. You will need to go through this process with the same attitude as you would with a puppy. You may very well get results within a couple of days, but it is a work in progress and your glider can continue to learn and learn and bond and bond as long as you put the time in. You wouldn't expect a puppy to be housebroken, know its name, know how to sit, and not to chew within a few days of bringing it home, right? Well, your sugar gliders will need time to acclimate to you and the new environment as well. The bonding process is what creates a "tame" glider - they want to be with
you and are happy to see you when you approach.
When you first get your glider, it may fuss a lot. The funny soundthey make when they are afraid is called crabbing. Some gliders talk more than others, some gliders will make the sound along with a defensive posture, and some gliders will get in "attack" mode while crabbing. Do not let this behavior put you off. Your new friend is just a little scared.
It’s now living in a new house with new humans and needs to get used to the new space. Carry your glider with you frequently. If you take your glider out for more than 45-60 minutes at a time, make sure it has access to food and water. We often drop apple pieces into the bonding pouch so the baby doesn't get hungry. We also offer the tip of the hamster bottle with fresh water and, if the joey is thirsty, it will take a drink.
As you sense that your joey is acclimating more to its environment and getting more comfortable with you, then put your hand in the pouch and pet the glider. If it continues to crab, that's OK, just stroke it calmly until it settles down. If the glider tries to bite you, you may want to pet it from the outside of the pouch until it settles. A word of caution: do not pull away from a glider trying to bite. If the animal senses fear, your reaction will actually motivate the glider to try and bite again. Keep calm.
Gliders bond by scent and we’ve found that leaving items in the cage with your scent on it will help to expedite bonding. Wear an old T-shirt for several hours and when you take it off, put it in the gliders’ cage. Or you can rub a paper towel on your face and neck. Your body oils will “scent” the paper towel and you can put this in the sugar gliders’ sleeping pouch.
Spend time with your glider. The more time you can spend with your new found friend, the closer your bonds will develop. This is the fun part of having sugar gliders as members of your family.
Many people have successfully kept single sugar gliders without the glider developing any social problems. If you choose to get just one, you really need to spend a lot of time with it - at least three hours a day. Sugar gliders are incredibly social by nature, and when lacking companionship are prone to depression. The depression can lead to a variety of disorders from overeating, to extreme shyness to not eating at all. We recommend that most people consider keeping at least two sugar gliders together.
Is it fact or fiction that keeping more than one glider makes it harder to bond with them? Sugar gliders are capable of loving many. In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies made up of multiple animals. In our own household, we keep four sugar gliders strictly as pets. The four all live together in one sugar glider mansion.
They love each other dearly. They all love the humans in our household. And one of these gliders has developed an incredibly strong bond with both our dog and our cat. Please be cautioned, however, that gliders cannot compete with bigger animals and you must supervise your gliders interaction with other pets to prevent injury or worse. The moral of the story is that keeping multiple gliders will not affect their ability or desire to develop a strong bond with their human companions.