Games gliders like; Shipping Gliders to Canada; Working with other breeders; Will gliders bond to several people?

Dear Arnold:
What kind of games do gliders like to play?                   
By Arnold

Dear Arnold,

I’m thinking about opening my home to a pair of baby sugar gliders and I’ve read that gliders are fun, interactive and playful.  Can you tell me more about how gliders like to play?

Your Pal Ralph

Dear Ralph,

… Dat is a gweat question!  But before me answers, let me ask you, what kind of games do hoomans like to play?  Ya see, gliders are not all da same and we can be creative in our play activities just like you!

We play a lot of different ways amongst ourselves, but I think you are asking more about how we play with our hoomans.  Well, lemme tell ya some of the ways me likes to play with Lisa.  One of my faves is to climb up the curtains, get way up high, then me dive bombs Lisa.  Me tries to land right on her face.  That way she’s sure to see me!

We also play peek-a-boo.  Ya see, I hide behind a pillow or her computer screen or some place where she doesn’t see me, then I pop up like a mad man and jump to her shoulder, steals me a kiss, then I jump back to me hiding place.  We also play with toys, like bird feathers and dangly things.  Me likes to pounce and grab stuff and hang from things.

But me favorite way to play is to line up at the tailback position (‘cuz I have such a cool tail), then I get the hand off from Reuben and run in for a touchdown!  What?  You don’t believe me? 

Well, check this picture out Ralph!

This is my friend Reuben of the Seattle Seahawks!  And haven’t you found it odd that so many football players are named Joey?

Love Arnold

Where to get Sugar Gliders in Canada?
by Lisa

Several months ago we put out a request to the community asking for referrals of Canadian breeders.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed by our lack of response.  Then I had the opportunity to speak to Caroline McPherson.  For those of you who are not familiar with Caroline, she is the author of the most popular sugar glider book in print.  She is also Canadian.  She does not breed sugar gliders any longer, but I figured surely she must know who the breeders are in Canada.  I was quite surprised when Caroline told me that she did not have any referrals for me.  She gets a fair share of requests as well and wishes that she knew how people could get easier access to gliders in Canada.

Well, this gave me the motivation to find out more.  So I did my homework, made a bunch of calls, researched the possibilities and came up with a new shipping program for Canada.  Effective immediately, SunCoast Sugar Gliders is now set up to ship sugar gliders to our northern neighbors.  The only airports we can serve are Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, but it’s a start, right?  The shipping costs are comparable to those charged our U.S. customers. Quarantine is not required.  If you are interested in this service, feel free to contact me at (sorry, no longer available) for more info. 

SunCoast Sugar Gliders: Working with Other Breeders?
By Lisa

Attention small breeders!  This is a question for you!

I get a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails and in most cases feel quite capable of answering your questions or at least able to points folks in the right direction.  But there is one question I get quite often and I wish I had a good answer to it.  Many small breeders often need help finding good homes for their joeys.  A lot of people want the experience of raising marsupial babies, but once you step into a breeding situation, finding good homes can be a challenge. 

This is a full time adventure for me and my life’s dedication.  I don’t mind telling you, I have to kiss my share of frogs before I find the princes.  Gliders are not the right pets for everyone, and making sure that prospective glider keepers are well educated, making a well informed decision, and able to sincerely make a life long commitment is important to me.  These are my standards, and I’m sure that others do or at least want to subscribe to similar standards.  What I’m finding though, is that many of the small hobby breeders often do not have a large enough audience to pick and choose good prospective parents for their baby sugar gliders.

I’ve asked myself a hundred different ways: how can I help?  We have a waiting list year round for our sugar babies.  I know I could find great homes for more sugar babies than we produce here at SunCoast.  We’ve always had a goal of limiting our own production in order to maintain the best standards and highest quality we are able to manage.  I don’t think the best answer for us or our sugar gliders is to make our breeding operation larger.  In my opinion, bigger is not always better.

OK, so let’s cut to the chase. I am open to creative suggestions from small breeders interested in having SunCoast assist with your adoptions.  Here are the primary challenges:

1.  I am not comfortable placing adoptions unless I’ve personally seen the joeys and have the opportunity for one of our veterinarians to examine the gliders.  I must feel fully confident that the SunCoast Guarantee will apply to any animals we represent. This leads to challenge number 2.

2.  The cost of shipping one or two gliders to us, so that we may find a home for them and potentially have to ship them elsewhere is in most cases cost prohibitive.

3.  We must have a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s husbandry plans and knowledge of sugar glider care, including dietary issues, supplementation needs, taking babies from their parents at the appropriate age, no inbreeding, etc.

4. Incoming babies to our facility must be quarantined (but this is my challenge to solve, and I will if we can get through challenges 1 – 3).

I’ve done this with a few select breeders, particularly in the area of color gliders where I’ve found great homes for gliders, but could not supply unrelated pairs or trios to my customers.  It makes sense to join into a cooperative effort in this case.  But doesn’t it make sense to join into a cooperative effort for normal color gliders as well?  This is the question burning on me, and if we can work out the logistics effectively, I’m willing to give it a try.

Of course, the easiest path to accomplishing this is for us to hook up with other smaller breeders in the Central Florida region, where many of the challenges are simply overcome by good geography.  If you have thoughts or suggestions on this topic, feel free to contact me at [email protected] and let’s talk about it.

Will Sugar Gliders Bond to Multiple People? 
Do Multiple Gliders Bond as Well as Single Gliders?
By Lisa

A common misconception circulating in written “facts” about sugar gliders is that these animals only bond to one person.  Well, nobody bothered to tell that to my sugar gliders.  One of the cool things about gliders is that they have the heart and capacity to love many other living beings.

Sugar gliders are colony animals, and by nature are designed to live in large groups.  Sugar gliders are apparently not monogamous, which is another reason supporting their ability to connect with many.  I am not experienced in the raising and handling of other types of animals, but I learn a great deal through the many conversations I’m blessed to enjoy each and every week. 

One commonality I’ve found amongst sugar glider keepers is that most of us have a variety of pets in the household, and many glider keepers are quite experienced with a wide variety of domestic animals, birds and exotic animals.

I chose to mention birds specifically because there are many species that do mate for life, and if they have another bird companion, they do not tend to bond well with people.  At least this is what I’ve been told by countless people through the years.  

This makes sense.  Mother Nature created some species with this specific behavior patterns.  These types of animals are best kept in human homes as solo pets, and would require large amounts of attention from their keeper.  I’ve often heard about birds that take to one member of the family and will attack the other humans in the household.  This is typical of an animal that is wired by nature for one on one relationships.

Sugar gliders are not wired for one on one relationships, but rather large colony relationships.  They have the capacity to attach to numerous other living beings.  This goes for other gliders, multiple people and even other household pets.  I don’t encourage the relationship with other household pets unless you feel absolutely, positively sure that your animals will bring no harm to each other. 

I have a Labrador retriever named Georgia.  She was raised as a puppy around the gliders, by nature is very laid back and was never that hyper as a puppy (which I admit is weird for a pup, especially a lab).  Knowing Georgia’s personality and gentle nature as well as I do, I feel very safe leaving her in the glider room when it’s playtime.  She doesn’t even flinch a muscle when they jump on her or crawl around on her. I actually think she is protective of the little ones.  She doesn’t chase squirrels, birds or lizards either.

The point I’m sharing here is that my fearsome foursome fur bombers are all bonded to me, my other half, my dog, and of course each other!  We are one big, happy family.

Now at the risk of sounding schizophrenic, I will tell you that some gliders are bonded to only one person.  But, this has a lot to do with how they were raised and bonded.  If only one person in the household does the handling, takes that one glider with them everywhere and the glider basically lives in the pocket of this one person all day, every day, guess what?  This glider is going to have a strong preference for this one person.  

When bonding is shared amongst the members of a household, the multiple relationships will build.  Like any pet, their upbringing will have a strong impact on behavior.  Gliders can bond with several people by nature.  But nurture will determine whether or not they really do.

Keep this in mind when you bring home new pets.  I think it’s best to have gliders used to a variety of people, just in case something happens to the primary caretaker.  It’s best to have the animals better socialized so a substitute caretaker can step in.

Let’s look at this a second way considering another animal we are all familiar with, our good old friend, the dog.  If you lived alone, kept your dog indoors all the time and never had any company, you will end up with a dog that is not very social with anyone except you.  See what I mean?  It is the dog’s nature as a pack animal to form a variety of relationships and can be extremely social, but if you isolate a naturally social animal, it will lack in social skills and could very likely be threatened and threatening when a stranger comes around.

All animals are best served when we honor their true nature, and accepting and nurturing the social needs of animals, like gliders, is in their best interest for well balanced mental health.

Part two of this question goes to another related misconception about glider bonding.  Many are under the impression that if you get more than one glider, it will be harder to bond with multiple gliders.  It is probably the most common objection I hear when I tell people that gliders are best kept in at least pairs, and is simply not the case.

Just know that multiple gliders can be bonded with as easily as or even more easily than single gliders.  You do have to “divide and conquer” to make it happen faster.  What I mean by this is work with them one on one so that a relationship is developed between each glider and each person.  From the experiences others have shared with me over the years, I often hear of single gliders bonding very slowly and acting fearful for time periods longer than we would normally expect.  But think about it. 

In addition to a new home and new people, which is a scary proposition for most new pets, you’ve also added separation anxiety into the mix of stresses.  Gliders are made by nature to have companions around the clock.  They do not understand being alone and this can freak them out.  With a companion, they will naturally feel more at home, as this is the most natural way for them.  The more we can honor the nature of the animals we bring home to live with us, the better the experience will be for both human and animal.

‘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!