Posted: December 13, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
Q: I am extremely upset right now. I discovered that one of my two sugar gliders drowned in my toilet. I was in a hurry to leave town because of a family emergency and must have forgotten to close the door to my glider room (they have their own bedroom). I came home and discovered the worst. It is so sad. She was so sweet and perfect.
I am worried about my remaining sugar glider. The two were so close, and I don't know how she will react being all alone now. I am thinking that maybe I should buy another glider, but how do sugar gliders take to the addition of a new sugar glider into their surroundings? My first two grew up together and might even have been sisters. If I get a new one, will they bond quickly or at all?
A: My condolences on the loss of your little girl. Unfortunately, toilet drowning is one of the more common accidents with sugar gliders in captivity.
When a cagemate is lost, it is very common for the remaining sugar glider to grieve. When possible, it is advised to allow the remaining sugar glider to see their mate upon death, as it helps them to understand why they are gone. Spending additional time with your remaining glider is also very important to ease the transition to being alone. Gliders live in colonies in the wild, so they do thrive on having a companion.
Introducing another mate is most often extremely successful in this type of situation. I recommend a neutered male, if possible. Before introductions begin, have a wellness check done on the new sugar glider as well observing a 30-day quarantine. Be prepared to take introductions slowly. Housing them next to each other, as well as a swapping pouches and toys will allow them to become familiar with each other’s scent. Carrying them with you in separate bonding pouches will not only help them become familiar with each others scent, it will facilitate the new glider's bond with you. Eventually they may call to each other through their enclosures, which is a good indication they are ready to meet.
Once you feel the sugar gliders are ready to meet, choose a neutral territory to introduce them. Many times they will become instant friends. Occasionally introductions may take longer. Their behavior toward each other will be your greatest indicator if they are ready or may require more time.
As with everything regarding sugar gliders, there is no one right answer. Neutered males tend to be more passive and easy-going and willing to accept a female companion, and vice versa.
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