Rocky, my first Sugar Glider entered my life two years ago as a gift from my son. My inexperience with Sugar Gliders became apparent as soon as I tried to pick up the little creature. He stood on his hind legs and batted at me with his paws, making scary, chattering noises. As I looked at this tough little guy, I knew the name, Rocky, fit him to a tee. I immediately went online and read all the information I could find about socializing Sugar Gliders and found out that the worst thing I could have done was pick him up as soon as the baby Sugar Glider arrived. According to Pocket Pets, “How well your Sugar Glider will ultimately bond to you is largely determined by how much time you spend with it during the first couple weeks that it is in your home. This is so important.”
Sugar Glider Bonding Techniques
I began the relationship with my baby Sugar Glider by leaving him alone for two days. The solitude gave him time to become acclimated to his new home. The Sugar Glider cage that I chose for him had both vertical and horizontal bars so that Rocky could grab the sides without sliding down the bars. In the wild, Sugar Gliders can glide up to 15 feet, so they jump around in the cage quite a bit. I used pine shavings for the floor of the cage but newspaper can be used also. My Sugar Glider was all set to spend his two days of peace and quiet once I added the glider food and a water bottle.
A Sugar Glider eventually recognizes the smell and voices of the people it lives with, so I found an old t-shirt and wore it for a few hours. Then I cut a small piece from the shirt and placed it in the cage. This helped Rocky to become familiar with my scent, strengthening his trust in me. I also used a bonding pouch that I hung around my neck. Rocky stayed in the pouch while I went about my daily routine around the house. I made it a point to rub the pouch every few minutes so the Sugar Glider would get used to my touch. Carrying him in the pouch familiarized him with my scent and the feel of my body.
Once I felt that my Sugar Glider knew my scent, it was time to hold him in my hands. Everything I read about handling Sugar Gliders emphasized not to be afraid because my fear would transfer to the Sugar Glider and make him afraid, as well. Sugar Gliders are marsupials, so as babies they are used to living upside down in their mother’s pouch. They feel safe in tight, enclosed spaces. When first handling my Sugar Glider, I used a firm touch, squeezing him in my hand and petting him firmly. I noticed that a firm touch also calmed him down when he became excited. When I first held Rocky, he was frightened but I soon discovered that the tighter I held him, the calmer he became. The more I rubbed his body, the more he trusted me. I had to keep reminding myself that my Sugar Glider wanted to feel my hand tighten around him rather than holding him loosely.
I took Rocky out of his cage every day, holding and squeezing him for as long as could. After a few weeks, my Sugar Glider felt secure and confident. He trusted me completely and now he never leaves me when he is out of his cage.
The extra time spent socializing my baby Sugar Glider in those first few days of his arrival was the key to the rewarding experience I have had with Rocky. We both enjoy the times he sits in my pocket or on my shoulder and his trust in me grows stronger every day.
Exotic Nutrition: Bonding with Your Sugar Glider
Pocket Pets: Special Report-Bonding