Hello friends! Today I will be sharing a diary style post documenting the first week of bonding with Yiska and Ilona. If you don’t know, Yiska and Ilona were rehomes. They came from a good place where they were cared for and loved well. They are about a year old. It’s been really interesting bonding with older gliders vs joeys (like Ink and Dreamer were, when I got them). I hope that this will be helpful to you if you are in a similar situation.
I picked up Yiska and Ilona in the late afternoon. They were both curled up in their bonding bag. They didn’t crab when I opened the bag, only when I attempted to reach in. It was a four hour drive back to the hotel. During that time, I just held them in the bag while they slept. I opened it a bit and Ilona woke up. She was very curious about me and sniffed my fingers. She did grab hold of them and bit them, but it wasn’t out of aggression, it was out of curiosity. Sugar gliders are a lot like toddlers – they experience a lot of life with their mouths. Ilona let me touch her without crabbing/lunging/aggressive biting.
Yiska, meanwhile, slept like a rock in the bottom of the bag. He wasn’t interested in looking at me, smelling me or doing anything but hiding. I didn’t get a good look at him until that night in the hotel. He was sure to position himself so that Ilona was always in front of him, thus blocking my view.
I gave them both a couple treats. Yiska, in gratitude, lunged out and bit me really hard. He’s only done that once or twice since, though. It was because he saw a huge hand descending into the bag and his natural instinct was to think “PREDATOR” and do whatever he could do defend himself.
I put some pieces of fleece that had my scent on them into the bag. Gliders bond mainly by scent, so I wanted to get them used to mine as soon as possible.
When we got to the hotel, I got their travel cage set up. I put the OHPW food into it. They had previously been on a different diet, so I was worried about how they’d do with the switch. They both loved it and everything was gone in the morning.
That night was rough. I had the two sugar glider cages set up in the hotel room (Ink and Dreamer’s and then Yiska and Ilona’s). I made sure to have them at least 1 1/2 feet apart so that they couldn’t get to each other or accidently catch and harm the others tails.
Ilona and Yiska were perfectly happy and just ignored Ink and Dreamer. Ink did the same. But Dreamer was so agitated by the presents of the new gliders. She was running around her cage frantically, not resting and not even taking yogurt drops from me (a sign that she is seriously seriously stressed). So I moved the cage to the other side of the room (which was hard ’cause it was a small hotel room with five people and two guinea pigs) where they couldn’t see each other. Dreamer settled down after that.
We had to drive five hours home. During that time, I had two separate bonding pouches with both sets of gliders. They did amazingly well. They slept really well. I ended up having Mama hold Yiska and Ilona’s pouch for half of the drive because I was trying to get food for everyone and it was really hard to do that while holding two pouches, lol.
When we got home, Daddy got the huge Critter Nation cage set up. It was really dirty. Originally, I had said that I wouldn’t wash the cage because I wanted Yiska and Ilona to feel comfortable and not to be in a whole new house with nothing that smelled like them. But my room stank with the dirty cage in it. I prided myself on managing to keep a nearly smell-free room even though I had a un-neutered male. So I got some vinegar and hot water and started wiping down the cage. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I did a deep clean of the whole cage, then I washed all of their toys and their cage set (aside from one sleeping pouch that smelled very much like them). I definitely over did the cleaning, but I just couldn’t stand the smell.
I got their cage set up with a few of their toys and some new ones of mine. Here is a picture of the two cages side by side. The larger cage is the one that Yiska and Ilona came with. Eventually, all four of them are going to be in there. It’s so much bigger than Ink and Dreamer’s cage! Notice how I have a significant space between the two cages. This is important for the reasons I mentioned above.
(A note on quarantining: new gliders should be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days to prevent them from passing on any illnesses that they have. Technically, I am not doing the proper quarantining. I’ll do a whole different post on that, but basically, the right quarantining is to keep the gliders in separate rooms, to not handle any of the same things, to take showers between holding the two, etc. I don’t have space to do that, and it isn’t really necessary because Yiska and Ilona weren’t gliders that were neglected or sick. They weren’t rescues. So I didn’t do the proper method for that reason.)
That night was tough, too. Dreamer was still agitated by the presents of the other gliders. I ended up putting a piece of fleece on her cage so that she couldn’t see the other gliders. That helped a lot.
I played with Ink and Dreamer as usual, then I changed my clothes and let Ilona and Yiska out of the cage for 20 minutes. Ilona came out and sniffed my hand several times. She didn’t bite. She climbed onto my arm of her own will and stayed there for quite a while.
I tried to get close to Yiska, but he refused to even leave the cage. He was hiding out in the corner. He’s by far the biggest glider that I have, and he was slightly intimidating, lol. I’d already been bitten hard by him, too, so that wasn’t helping my nerves. I ended up putting a soft sock on my hand and reaching out to him with that on. It helped both of us. For him, he didn’t see my bare hand coming straight for him (for some reason gliders do not like hands). It also protected my fingers from the brunt of bites. So I tried to get close to him and he basically ignored me. He was just frozen. He wouldn’t let me touch him, but he didn’t run from me. Neither of them crabbed at me, which was encouraging.
They are both chewers! They chewed on everything that I had in the cage.
I did nail trims on Yiska and Ilona! I was really nervous about attempting that on unbonded gliders. It was harder than with my bonded ones, but it went really well. I distracted them with yogurt drops and made sure to keep them securely wrapped in the pouch so that they couldn’t squirm or get their heads close enough to my fingers to bite. The front paws were the hardest because they’re closest to the glider’s mouths. But I want to let you guys know that it IS possible to do nail trims on UNBONDED gliders. It just takes a lot more time, patience and a resistance to bites.
That night I opened their cage and Ilona came right up to me without hesitation and jumped out on my arm. Yiska came up and sniffed my socked hand a couple times, but didn’t do anything more than that.
I held Yiska and Ilona all morning in a bonding pouch. They slept like rocks. I was able to open up the top of the bag and reach in and touch them while they slept. Even Yiska wasn’t opposed to that. A few hours later when I was ready to put them back in their cage, they were both purring! Later that afternoon, I took them out and held them in a bonding pouch again.
That night Ilona licked honey off of my fingers without biting me. I stood still by the side of the came for several minutes, and Yiska came up and sniffed at me.
I played with Ilona and Yiska again for a little bit that night. Yiska let me touch him a few times, but he still didn’t climb onto my hands.
That night, I heard all of this hissing and strange sounds. I stayed up all night and freaked out because I thought one of them might have a UTI or intestinal blockage. Turns out that Ilona was just in heat (it scares me every single time Dreamer goes into heat because she makes so many weird sounds).
Ink had his neuter, so I was very occupied with that. I fed the gliders and gave them a couple treats, but I was mainly concerned with watching Ink and making sure that he didn’t get out of his e-jacket or hurt himself.
I held Ilona & Yiska all day long, but didn’t play with them that night because I was reoccupied with Ink. They barked off and on all night long. They’d stop when I said, “Shhh” or if I got up to talk to them. But as soon as I went back to bed (or finally fell to sleep) the barking started again. I’m pretty sure that they were just bored. Gliders bark for a number of reasons, but I can always tell a difference between the scared bark (it’s sharper, higher pitched, louder and doesn’t stop for a long time) and the bored bark (slower, softer and stops immediately when I get up). It was most definitely a bored bark. They had a few toys in their cage, but I was still trying to find things to put in.
They didn’t have a wheel yet. I asked their previous owner if they had ever had a wheel and she said that they hadn’t. I was super anxious to get them one. That’ll help tremendously with their boredom!
Phew! And that was week one of bonding. Stay tuned for more posts on bonding and trust building!