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Tent Time: The Best Bonding Technique

Updated on December 6, 2010

Sugar gliders are becoming very popular pets because they bond so deeply with their owners. For those of you unfamiliar with sugar gliders, they are small marsupials (mammals which have a pouch to carry their young) which look like flying squirrels. They can be found in the forests of Australia, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. In fact, the babies are known as joeys just like kangaroos, other Australian animals that also have a pouch for their young.

Sugar gliders only grow to be around six inches long (their tail is another six or seven inches). In addition to their pouch, the other unique feature is a membrane which extends from their front to hind legs. This enables the tiny creatures to glide through the air much like flying squirrels. Sugar gliders are wonderful pets because they are very loving and social but in order to experience the rewards of the relationship, you must bond with your sugar glider from the time it is a baby.

Getting started

In the wild, sugar gliders live in colonies of 15 - 30 and thus can get very lonely if they don’t receive a lot of attention as a pet. The best option is to buy two sugar gliders to keep each other company.

Since sugar gliders live in treetops and glide large distances to feed, they need large cages in which to live. Ideally, these should be in the range of 3 feet x 3 feet x 4 feet (taller is better than wider since they like to be high up). The more gliders you have, the larger the cage should be. Within these enclosures, you should place some tree branches (should be pesticide-free), a wodent wheel and some toys for them to play with.

When you first bring your suggies home, let them settle in their new environment for a day or two. Place a piece of clothing that you wore the previous day on top of their cage so that they can become used to your scent. Meanwhile place pieces of fleece close to your body all day and then put a “fresh” piece in their sleeping pouches every morning for the next couple of days. On the fourth or fifth day, you can carry them around in a bonding pouch under your shirt, in your pocket or around your neck. Every sugar glider is different and will respond differently. Pet them from the outside of the pouch and talk to them so that they become used to your voice. Sugar gliders are nocturnal and sleep all day so you can carry them around while you do your chores.

The best bonding technique

It is not usually a good idea to give a sugar glider the run of the whole house. The last thing you want is for trouble to develop which might result in an injury. That’s where mesh tents come in. Because sugar gliders need plenty of room, nothing is safer than an enclosed mesh tent. In fact, mesh tents not only provide an “escape” from their cage where they get more room to climb around and have fun, they are the best bonding technique. One tent that is proving to be a favorite among sugar gliders owners is the SansBug 2-person tent.

You have a 360 degree view with all the mesh screening of the SansBug and the suggies will have a blast as they run around the walls of the tent and launch off the sides to the floor! The floor is polyethylene and does not make a crinkly noise when the gliders run on it (which they dislike) so there is no need to place a blanket. Even though the SansBug may be a little shorter than dome shaped tents, the SansBug 2-person tent (8 feet length and 4.75 feet width) has much more space since it is longer. The 3-person SansBug tent is huge (8 feet length and 6 feet width) and unless you have lots of space in your house, the 2-person is recommended. There is plenty of room for two people to sit in the tent and bond with the suggies while they use you as their climbing tree and playhouse.

When you’re ready to hit the sack, the SansBug tent can be folded into a compact disc in a few seconds. There is a video that shows you how to do this and once you get the knack of it, you can fold your tent in less than five seconds and slide it under your bed or sofa!

Sugar glider bonding requires patience

In the beginning, just take your sugar gliders into the tent while in their pouches right around wake up time. Also take some toys, treats and maybe a book to while away the time if need be. You can run some fleece ropes across the top of the SansBug tent using clamps on the tent seams. Ignore the gliders until they come out of their pouches on their own. Offer them a treat if they come to you. Suggies love sweet things (that’s where they get their name from!) so honey, sugar cane sticks, yogurt drops and fruit are favorites. They also love mealworms, grasshoppers and crickets. Don’t give up if they don’t interact with you the first few times; some suggies take longer to warm up to people. Continue using the tent consistently. They will gradually become curious and explore the tent.

Before you know it, your little pocket pets will be flying from one end of the tent to the other and wanting to play with you and their toys all the time. It might even take some treats to get the little one back into their pouches to return them to their cage!

Patience is a must in bonding with sugar gliders, especially if you are a new parent. Whether you are encouraging them to come out of their pouch to bond with you or to explore the safe confines of a tent, don’t expect immediate results. Work with your sugar gliders slowly at their own pace and before long your little sugar babies will crave your attention all the time!

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