Posted: February 13, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
Q: I've had my sugar glider, Tink, for two years. She has never bonded. We got her when she was a few weeks old. We did the pouch a lot, but when we tried to hold her, she bit so badly that our fingers bled. I'm having more time now than before, so I've been putting her in the pouch daily, but all she does is chatter angrily. She very stressed and depressed. Is it too late to bond with her? What can I do?
A: The good news is, it is never too late to bond with your sugar glider. Wipe the slate clean, and begin all over. The very first thing is to teach your sugar glider to trust you. Trust is the key to establishing a bond. Routine is the quickest way to establish trust. Dinnertime and treat time should be the same time every day, as well as pouching your glider. You will notice your glider anticipating the hours you approach it, and the trust beginning to build.
Once you gain your sugar glider's trust, you can begin to bond. Begin slowly, and follow your sugar glider's cue. Some sugar gliders bond quickly, and some require you take it very slowly.
Speak softly and gently rub the outside of the pouch during pouch time. Your sugar glider will begin to recognize your voice and touch, and its fears will begin to subside. You can then begin to offer soft treats, such as yogurt or applesauce, on your fingertip. Be sure to redip before all the treat is gone, otherwise your sugar glider may bite to get more! Offering treats by hand helps your glider to realize your hands offer good things, and there is nothing to fear.
Once both you and your sugar glider are comfortable with the pouching and offering of treats, move on to playtime. This form of bonding is quickest achieved in a small, enclosed space, such as a tent. During your sugar glider’s waking hours, take it into the tent and let it explore you. Do not try to interact with it until you see your sugar glider is comfortable with your presence. This may take one day, or as long as a week.
Follow Tink's lead. If you are going too quickly, it might set back the bonding process. You might also consider getting Tink a friend.
Have patience and enjoy your bond once achieved. Good luck!
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