Dear Lisa / Dear Arnold
by Lisa and Arnold
I just moved back home with my suggies (who are both under 2 years old). My brother has a pitbull who is very hesitant around new animals or people (the first day he met my girls he kept growling and barking at the cage; had they been outside the cage, I’m pretty sure he would have attacked them.) But I keep seeing cute videos on YouTube with sugar gliders who are bonded to other family pets (dogs, cats, etc). How do I familiarize my sugar gliders with our dog without putting them in danger of being eaten?!
It’s about the pet. It’s very unlikely you will see YouTube videos where it didn’t work, right? If you know the dog is going to harm them, please don’t introduce!
We have to understand the tendencies of all of our non-human family members. My dogs are cool with the sugar gliders, but my younger dog is a bit frisky. And while I know she would never hurt a sugar glider on purpose, she’s sixty pounds of muscle and goat-like energy. Accidents can happen. While she’s not clumsy, she definitely has moments of over-exuberance!
We’ve heard from one lady who has a sugar glider that has taken residency in her bird aviary. This is odd behavior indeed, as sugar gliders have an instinctual tendency to see birds as predators or prey! Yet this male sugar glider even sits on eggs. But this doesn’t mean that one should try it “just because it would be so lovely for everyone to get along.” What this does mean is that this one person has a very special sugar glider who really doesn’t understand who he is. It works for her for some odd reason and it happened without her direct intention to encourage this behavior.
I’ve seen YouTube videos of a lioness nursing a baby deer. And there’s another cute video of a chimpanzee who’s become quite taken with a white tiger cub. Sometimes Nature has unpredictable patterns and what we should count on are the things we feel we can predict with some certainty.
Now back to your dog. I remember years ago I had made a statement that I thought one of the worst breeds of dog to keep in the same home with sugar gliders is the Jack Russell Terrier. Not long after, one of our competitors actually put a video on YouTube of a sugar glider and a Jack Russell Terrier. Can it happen? In Nature, just about anything can happen that defies the normal odds of things. Terrier breeds are natural hunters. My dogs are a retriever and a shepherd mix, neither coming from lineages that are bred to hunt.
Now and then, Nature treats us with a chance to see something out of the ordinary. These “un-natural alliances” often just happen and are not really a matter of training. If you have the slightest feeling that another household pet can harm your sugar gliders, please don’t let them meet.
And hopefully YouTube will never evolve into a platform where people show off the animal encounters that ended badly for someone.
Thanks for your question,
How do you catch a unique sugar glider?
U nique up on it!
Dear Arnold again,
How do you catch a tame sugar glider?
Dear LJ again,
The tame way!
Nyuk nyuk … me luvs eezy questions!
More Single Gliders are Getting a Pal
We are receiving a lot more calls these days from new glider keepers who got a single sugar glider and then came to realize that keeping a sugar glider as a solo pet is not such a good idea. I think it is great that people are taking the time to learn and educate themselves about proper sugar glider husbandry. With the message board communities and more breeders taking a responsible position on the importance of sugar gliders cohabitating, it is having a positive impact.
On the downside, there are still major players who are selling single sugar gliders to new owners. And while I am pleased that the message is reaching a broader audience now, there is still work to do. I urge all sugar glider lovers to keep encouraging anyone who sells sugar gliders to do at least this one humane thing. After all, colony animals deserve to live with others of their own kind.
While we just spoke about animals entering into relationships with other species not natural to their instincts (see the answer to the first question in the newsletter), these are extreme, exceptional situations. A sugar glider living a fulfilled life without other sugar gliders is a very slim opportunity. Thanks to all of you new glider keepers who’ve done what you can as soon as you can to get a buddy for your new sugar glider. You’ve done a great thing to help your sugar gliders lead longer and healthier lives!
Can Anyone Become an Animal Whisperer?
Knack: A special ready capacity that is hard to analyze or teach.
I received a very special email this past month from a woman who has an obvious connection to animals. As I read it, I thought how wonderful to meet another who has such a deep connection to the animals she lives with and how wonderful that she has used techniques learned from other animal experiences to explore new and safe ways to introduce sugar gliders.
I think that her viewpoints and her ability to express them will speak for themselves. So now I will simply share this and let you decide whether you are able to connect on this level. Can you trust your own good judgment; gut instinct and intuitive feelings about doing the very best for the furry ones who count on us?
I am hoping for your advice. I have four gliders that are getting along during play time but one glider who isn’t from (the original) trio. He is in the position of having to establish himself in the pecking order and is pretty evenly matched with one girl in particular. Long story short, I have done everything that was suggested for intros and the boys were neutered before intros even began.
When I rescued mice, I would do a lot of the things also suggested for suggies with great success. On occasion that wouldn’t be enough or enough to last once in the same cage. Mice are social creatures just like sugar gliders. When all the usual things wouldn’t work I would put the ones getting along in the same cage and leave the one fighting in a cage by himself. This was only for a couple of hours, an overnight, and in a worse case situation 24 hours when everything else including time wasn’t enough.
It’s important to note I would watch the lone mouse…he would always give me the sign they were ready to try again. In most cases this would do the trick and the mouse would appreciate every other mouse in their hotel living. In one case, it didn’t and the offending mouse spent almost two weeks in and then out of the hotel living before being tired of living alone. During that entire time I continued to watch the mouse for depression and other serious signs that the mouse could not handle being alone. The two weeks included supervised play time with the others and continued cage shaving trading for scent. There are more details but it would be a long email. Besides being diligent in my efforts and watchful of the mice, I tried as hard as I could to read the mice’s state of being by paying close attention to body postures, sounds they make, the way
they move toward or away from other animals, people or things.
Could this technique be used for a suggie who isn’t fully on board when everything else has helped the relationship but not been enough to tip the scales? I wouldn’t even be asking if it wasn’t for the intuition hitting me that I had used this and it might work in this situation. Please trust I am only asking and would not do it unless someone with way more experience / years with sugar gliders said it was worth trying. Even then I would seriously map out a plan and use extreme caution. What are your thoughts/suggestions?
Thanks in advance for your time,
Your email is brilliant, your focus on “state of being” is great and I would suggest trying just as you’ve laid it out. If all goes well, please send us the long version of the story as it could help others if you achieve success, and is just the type of thing we look to include in our newsletters. We have one article called extreme introductions which you can read here, and it’s a much different suggestion … but at the end of it all, it’s about finding things that work and tuning into the state of the animals and seeing them as the individuals they are … Bravo. Look forward to hearing more about your progress.
Thanks for having confidence in my ability and my suggestion. It’s taking a little longer then I had hoped as we are heading into night 4. I am sticking with it because of the changes I have seen each day. We’ve gone from him buzzing / grabbing when she was there between cages and fighting when in tent time with her to only “psssting” a little aggressively at her between cages and checking her out for 20 minutes with only grabbing. Even her confidence around him is growing now that she isn’t being chased and attacked. She’s letting him sniff her, and tolerated his behavior without attacking or running too far away. Even if she does step away, she comes back to check him out again. Just as much as she has let him sniff her, she’s checked out his (scent) too. When I swap pouches, he can’t wait to jump in and roll around in their scent. I believed that they will be a colony. I’ve been keeping point form notes of my observations each day so I can give you the details.
Have a great day!
Thanks for the update … I AM very interested in what you are doing … and then as I read more that this is taking a bit longer, I wonder if the average person would be so in tune to know when to forge ahead and when to pull it back … since you are focused on the state of being, how do you feel about the ability of the average person to have this level of sensitivity?
Anyone with the ability to make physical observations can do the same thing. I tend to trust movement and have learned in my career to rewind the event to point out the physical observations to relate to others. You know those posts on Glider Central where they talk about body language, behaviors and noises the gliders make. Anyone can learn to do that and apply it to this technique. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest a newer glider parent try this due the potential lack of experience with reading their own gliders and of having a base line of behaviors. I’ve read the two newsletters you have on your site about introductions. I would put this technique somewhere after several attempts of those and lots of patience but signs that they could get along. I can make sure I talk a little more like I do at my career working with teens then my vocation in energy work when I write about my experience. Have a great day!
So newsletter readers, what do you think? Can anyone develop this special capacity (knack)? I love Mary’s point that “anyone with the ability to make physical observations can do” this. The definition of “knack” I started with states it’s hard to analyze or teach. I will suggest to you that the problem lies in people trying too hard to teach other people when in practice, it is the animals that will tell us what we need to know, if we only pay attention … close attention.
‘Til next time, in good health for you and your gliders, we sign off in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures with us!