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Sugar Gliders/Sugar Glider Bonding

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Question
A co-worker of my son had a glider and did not have the time to bond with it.  She gave me the glider (cage and all!)in order for the little guy to have someone who could spend time with it.  As far as we were told, he had not even been out of his cage much at all - apparently they got it in a hamster ball once! - and it is very skittish. This is my first glider though I have had and raised pets all my life so I know this takes time.  She gave us some dry pellets and the vitamin powder, but we have taken to giving him small pieces of fruit (he loves blueberries!)and some mealworms for variety. He is taking banana yogurt off my finger, but we still have not been able to hold him.  We allow him out in the den most evenings for exercise and are able to get him back in the cage to sleep. He still crabs a lot when we reach into the cage but we talk to him and don't reach inside without verbal notification first so he gets used to us.  Just making sure we are doing the right things and get a feel for when we may be able to hold him without traumatizing him.  We got him Christmas Eve and she said he was about a year old, but still unsure about that. We got him several bonding pouches, and try to hold him in the pouch and pet him from outside the fleece for now as he does not like someone reaching for him. My husband wants to get another one for a partner for our little man, but I am still unsure about that until he is acclimated to us better.  Just wanting verification we are on the right track and any suggestions as to what we still need to be doing would be helpful.  Thank you.

Answer
Bonding with gliders can take a very, very long time.  It is also best that they be kept in at least pairs, as they are colony animals.  I would suggest neutering him, if he isn't already, and getting him either a female friend, or another neutered male.

Dry pellets are not a suitable source of food for sugar gliders.  I would look up the Original HPW (oHPW) diet, or the AWD diet and switch to one of those as soon as possible. I would avoid any of the other HPW products, as they are not tested at all, and stick only with the HPW that contains the Wombaroo brand product.  Until your diet supplies come, I would feed a mixture of fruits and veggies, as well as a dollop of pain yogurt, and some scrambled egg every night.  This will be a more rounded out and balanced diet.  But it should not be fed long term, as it does not have all of the vitamins and minerals he needs.

It sounds like the bonding methods you are using are exactly right -- it will just take him time to get used to you.  I'd also suggest getting a mesh pop tent to let him into with you, rather than an entire room.  This provides a secure place for him to play, that is smaller, so it will force him to interact with you more.  Take in some toys and string them up and around, and he will have a good time.  Search "tent time" and "Sugar Glider" and you will come across all kinds of examples of how people have set up their tents.

Doing some reading on Glider Gossip or Glider Central will be beneficial as well.  You will see a variety of diets mentioned on those forums, though, so be wary.  Some are not as good as they are made out to be (like the other HPW diets I mentioned -- there have been reports of many gliders dying on them and otherwise not doing well).  There is also a lot of drama, so I'd definitely just start out lurking/reading for the information.

Good luck!

Sugar Gliders

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Jen Souza

Expertise

I can answer pretty much any questions about sugar gliders, ranging from dietary and housing needs, to breeding/pregnancy, as well as bonding and and common health problems.

Experience

I have been working with, researching, and breeding sugar gliders for about ten years. I also had a book available at one point in time. I also help administrate one of the largest help groups on Facebook for sugar gliders, and answer questions there on a daily basis.

Publications
Sugar Mountain's Sugar Glider Guide.

Education/Credentials
Years of research and ownership, as well as keeping up on current trends in care.

Past/Present Clients
I have had a multitude of clients over the years, and still have several people who I help on a regular basis. I help administrate one of the largest, if not the largest, sugar glider help groups on Facebook.

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