I’m a little late with this post, but life has been really busy and I’ve just not gotten around to writing this. LOL. In any case, I’m going to be doing a diary style post just documenting the first weeks of bonding with my new gliders. I’ll be sharing my journey, tips and tricks that I’ve learned and pictures. 🙂 Enjoy!
Week two of bonding was really frustrating, if I’m being honest. I got Ink and Dreamer (my original pair) when they were joeys. While they did bite and crab a bit, they got over it so quickly. Ink bonded with me almost instantly. Dreamer took longer, but now she has a very tight bond with me. I got used to having gliders who would come to me as soon as I hold out my hand, who don’t constantly bite me, who stay with me and who are really calm and gentle. Ilona and Yiska reminded me of how very bonded Ink and Dreamer were. LOL
I found a new routine that works very well for me. First I play with Ink and Dreamer for their usual hour. (The pairs of gliders are still in separate cages.) Then I changed my clothes and opened the cage to let Ilona out. She’s always been very curious about people, and she came right up to the bars as soon as I opened the door.
At first she spent the majority of time running up and down the cage or around my room or anywhere that I wasn’t. But towards the middle of Week Two, she choose to climb on my arm and hang out there for much of our out-of-cage time. I decided to try to keep her on me for the whole time. I want her to associate out-of-cage time with being around me and bonding with me. This has worked very well. She will occasionally jump off of me, but when that happens, I slowly follow her and then kneel down in front of her and hold out my arms to her. Most of the time, she’ll climb right up and be content to hang out with me. This has been so encouraging to see.
However, she is still a biter. She’s not doing it out of aggression per say, but more out of curiosity. She has incredibly sharp teeth, though, and she spends most of the time on me just biting my hands or my shoulders or attacking my hair. I’ve learned that if I get frustrated, I have to just put Ilona back in the cage and calm down a bit before trying to spend time with her again.
Let me say here that hurting a glider for biting is NOT the correct way to prevent it. Gliders don’t understand punishment and if you hurt them, they will see you as a threat and they will bite you more. It’s counterproductive. Some things you can do to help discourage biting are gently “hissing” at them or softly blowing in their faces. Wearing thick, protective clothes helps a lot, too.
After I finish playing with Ilona, I put her back into the cage and spend some time with Yiska. This has been so challenging. I’ll wait until he comes to the outside of the cage and then I’ll stand a few inches in front of it and just wait for him to come to me. He’s incredibly shy and skittish of people. He doesn’t bite me as much as Ilona does, but he he’s still a chewer and loves to attack my fingers.
The first two weeks of bonding (thirteen days exactly) I waited. I didn’t grab at him. I didn’t chase him around the cage. I didn’t force him spend time with me. I just stood by the cage and I waited. He would come up and sniff me, but if I moved at all, he would dart away. He would take treats from my hand without hesitation, but that was it.
Finally, on Day Thirteen, it happened. I’d been standing by the cage with my arm near him. He came close. He actually put three feet on me. And then he let go of the cage and he was on my arm, completely of his own will!! You have no idea how thrilled I was. He only stayed on me for a few seconds, but it was a big deal. Over the next couple days, he continued to come to me, climb on my arm or back for a few seconds and then scamper off.
This is the reality of gaining the trust of sugar gliders. It isn’t quick. You’ll get bit a lot. You’ll be discouraged. You’ll feel like giving up. But it’s worth it, guys. It is so worth it when these amazing creatures finally trust us. Take it slow. Patience is truly the key.
I don’t know this for sure, but my guess is that Ilona and Yiska had very little human interaction beyond getting treats from their previous owner (especially Yiska). They are both very eager to come up and get treats, but they don’t seem used to actually interacting with humans. Because this is all they’ve known since they were joeys, it’s going to take a lot longer to break them of this mindset. I’m determined to show them that humans aren’t just treat dispensers. I want them to trust me and to see me as a friend. That’s my goal.