Q: My boyfriend and I bought a sugar glider and are having some trouble with him. We were reading the website, and we find out that we should leave him alone the first two days — we didn’t do that. Should we do that now, or is it too late? Plus he has been biting us a lot, even drawing blood a few times. We are not sure what to do. He will softly nip at Jon’s neck when he is on his shoulder. Is that a good thing?
A: Sugar gliders thrive on familiarity and routine. They are also very forgiving. Although you may take a step or two backward during the initial trust and bonding, once they begin to trust you, your bonding will be right back on track so you form a strong bond with your glider.
The intense biting is your sugar glider telling you that he/she is very scared. All of the new smells, sounds and environment are completely foreign compared to what it has ever known.
During the first few days in their new home, leave sugar gliders alone to adjust and become familiar with all of the changes that have taken place. This is a great time to quietly sit and observe the sugar gliders, or to talk softly to them while they explore their enclosure. This allows them to smell your scent and recognize your voice in a nonthreatening way.
Most often sugar gliders outgrow the nipping phase. This behavior is a form of marking; for young gliders this behavior helps them test the waters, so to speak.
Remember to practice patience. Interact at a pace your sugar glider is comfortable with, and before long your glider will begin to trust you. Once your glider begins to trust you, let the bonding and fun begin!