An Introduction to Introductions
After a 30 day quarantine period introductions can begin. Introductions are simply the steps to introducing one sugar glider(s) to an established colony or another single sugar glider. Introductions are important because gliders are scent driven animals and they can easily smell other gliders that are not from their colony, so integrating these scents is important. It is also important to do introductions because dominance needs to be established in a safe environment but also over a period time and not abruptly. This introduction process helps these gliders become acclimated to one another but also allows them to understand their place under safe conditions. The following steps were written with the expectation that this introduction was a particularly difficult one but almost all lone gliders are so extremely depressed that they are completely accepting to finally having a friend making most of these steps a complete breeze. On the other hand colonies are usually content as they are and most owners have more difficulty introducing them.
Pouch swapping is the first step most take while doing introductions.
Pouch swapping is the first step most take while doing introductions. It is simple. Take the fleece bedding or blankets out of the pouches that have been well scented and put them in the other gliders pouch. Later on in the week switch the pouches all together and other cage set items. Make sure you always leave a neutral pouch in the cage so that you can gauge where each glider is in the introduction process. Keep this process up for a week, you want to integrate these scents into both gliders lives so that is becomes a normal smell to each of them.
Moving the cages from the quarantine positions to positions where the gliders are now neighbors is the step that people usually take after pouch swapping. Putting the cages near each other typically happens after each glider has decided to sleep in each others scent marked pouch. Moving the cages near each other helps them get use to the others movements, the times the other is active, and their overall scents together. Be sure you do not put the cages to close together as many gliders will try to pull on one another, possibly hurting each other.
Be sure you do not put the cages to close together as many gliders will try to pull on one another, possibly hurting each other.
Note: Swapping cages is optional but I have found no benefits from it, and have only seen it create anxiety and aggressive dominance especially if one of the cages is smaller in size than the other.
Another step that should be taken is wearing two bonding pouches during the day while the gliders sleep in each of their own pouch. This helps the original glider accept sharing you if they show apprehension about this but also gets them use to sleeping together [or near each other] and their scents. This can be done at the same time pouch swapping is happening.
Meetings should only be between gliders that are one-on-one.
Once the gliders sleep soundly near each other, favor the heavily scent marked pouches, and give reasonable but not excessive amounts of attention to one another while the cages are near a neutral meeting can happen. Meetings should only be between gliders that are one-on-one. This should happen in an area neither glider has had a chance to scent mark. Possibly a cleaned tent, bathroom, or empty room [all of which are glider-proof]. Many people use a clean and empty bath tub with the stopper down. This is a nice neutral area that is easy to supervise. It is common practice to introduce gliders while they are extremely tired in the hopes that they would rather just sleep then argue. So the meeting will occur in a neutral space, early in the morning after they have just fallen asleep, it should be dimly lite but not dark, with only one pouch for both gliders to go back to sleep in.
Always have gloves and extra fleece around to break up potential fights.
Expect crabbing, chasing, swatting, and some other angry noises. Many gliders try to establish dominance right away and these actions are natural and part of the process. Be prepared for the meeting to go sour too, if balling up, bite downs, and/or screaming occurs immediately stop the intro using gloves [this usually happens for colony intros, as the alpha of the colony wants to protect the pack from the “intruder”]. Always have gloves and extra fleece around to break up potential fights. If the meeting went down hill start introductions over again, if it went well you will see some or all of the following: chasing, nipping at each others tails, grooming each others backs, going into the pouch to groom or fall asleep. You might hear “cursing” from the pouch but this is usually just them getting use to sleeping with a friend and they are just uncomfortable having their friends foot in their eye.
Do not separate them if the meeting went well.
If the intros went well make sure to place them in a neutral cage with only neutral accessories. Do not separate them if the meeting went well because they can become extremely depressed thinking they have lost their only chance at a friend. The cage will preferably be bigger than either of their previous cages making it an added bonus to have a friend.
The cage should be placed next to the owner throughout the first night.
Normally newly introduced pairs or colonies will be very vocal, often they will crab, hiss, chirp, click, and other noises. Lunging, screaming, and biting is not typically normal if the meeting went well but the cage should be placed next to the owner throughout the first night to ensure everything is fine. It is imperative that the owner stay near the cage the first night as this is the prime time that some pairs/colonies decide they do not approve of this situation and if this occurs and the cage is not being properly monitored the outcome could be deadly.
Lone gliders often exhibit a failure to thrive.
Introductions are vital for single gliders. The need to have a pack or a friend is a natural glider instinct and without this family most gliders become depressed. Lone gliders often exhibit a failure to thrive, some overeat, some under eat, many sleep excessively, but the most common trait all single gliders share that a new glider owner cannot recognize is that they all are never truly happy without that basic need for a friend their size.
Credit: Vicious Encounters