Hey guys! I am finally getting around to writing this post. I’ve been meaning to write it for months, but every time I even think about writing it, Ink has a relapse and goes back to gnawing on my hands. *rolls eyes* It is partly my fault. When I’m too tired or stressed or whatever, I end up not caring if he hurts me and don’t work hard at keeping him from doing it which makes him think it’s okay and sends confusing messages.
Wow, that was a long sentence.
When I first got my sugar gliders, Ink was a horrible biter. I think it was a combination of fear, curiosity and instincts that led him to it. Sugar gliders bite for numerous reasons. In the wild, they scrape and bite trees to get to the sap underneath. As my hands bleed when he bites, the instinct part of him is awoken. *shakes head* When they’re scared, they nip. He does not do that anymore, although he did when I first got him. They also chew on things that they are curious about – it’s like babies putting everything in their mouths. It’s their way of experiencing the world. Sugar gliders also groom each other and their adopted friends (aka me) by scraping their teeth across the fur (or in human’s case, the skin). Sometimes they can get a little overambitious in this and get too hard.
Sugar gliders are all different and their reasons for biting are as unique as themselves. This is just what I have found helpful when it comes to limiting biting.
The Ssstt Sound
When sugar gliders are annoyed with each other or don’t like something that the other is doing, they make a loud, “sssttt” hissing sort of sound. Doing this when they bite naturally makes them shy away from what they are doing. It doesn’t always work, but it can be helpful in some cases.
Long Sleeves or Gloves
This is what I have found the most helpful. When I play with them, I’ll wear shirts with sleeves that are long enough to cover my hands completely. That way they can’t reach my skin and they don’t bite or scratch me. You could also try gloves. (I haven’t ‘cause I can’t stand gloves…or most socks *shivers* uuugh).
Keep Scratches Covered
If my hands are free from scratches, Ink generally ignores them. But if they have scratches or anything on them, then Ink will incessantly bite at them. Whether he is trying to groom them away or whatever, it hurts and makes him believe that it is okay to bite.
If you have cuts or scratches on your hands, keep them covered so that the babies aren’t tempted to mess with them.
Distract With Treats
I shy away from this because I don’t want Ink to think that he is getting rewarded for biting. But many people do this. They try to distract their babies with food or treats. That way they are more interested in the food rather than my skin. I will sometimes get them hooked onto the food and then cover my hands with my sleeves.
Do not flick their faces. Do not splash them with water. Do not physically hurt them. They will not understand, they will be scared of you and this will cause them to nip more. It can be exasperating and painful when they constantly bite, and I understand that all too well. But venting your anger on them will not do ANY GOOD. You can gently blow in their faces – they hate that. But don’t do anything worse, please.
If you’re frustrated, put them back in their cage, step away and breathe for a bit. Then come back and keep trying. I can promise you, the biting will get better over time. It may take ages, but it will get better. Ink’s biting has become SO SO SO much less than it was before. We’ll keep working at it and I don’t doubt that we will continue to make progress!
Also… here are a few pictures that I took of the babies! They’re just a few days out of pouch and are still sooo tiny! (Smaller than my thumb!!!)
What do you think about the baby sugar gliders? Do you have animals that bite?