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Sugar Gliders
2010 Edition: LGRS Sugar Glider Introductions Primer
2010 Edition: LGRS Sugar Glider Introductions Primer
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Jan 08 2010
06:12:40 PM
NOTE: A PDF version of the The 2011 (4th) Edition is here:
http://files.meetup.com/768852/2011EditionLGRSIntroductionPrimer.pdf

The 2011 Edition is also here on GG:

http://www.sugarglider.com/glidergossip/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=31727

This is the third edition of the LGRS Sugar Glider Introductions Primer which got its start after we gained enough experience doing introductions at the rescue that it made sense to publish it for newcomers.

There are numerous factors to take into consideration when contemplating the introduction and joining together of strange sugar gliders. There are four important concepts I will address first, which act as a theme for the Top Twelve Tips that follow:

A. Correct Expectations

B. Your Safety

C. Suggie Safety & Welfare

D. Sugar Glider Territorial Dynamics

E. Top ten Tips

<b>A. Correct Expectations</b>

Don't get your hopes up too far. Introductions between strange sugar gliders fail quite often and it can be dangerous for small gliders and especially joeys. We do introductions dozens and dozens of times each year to join rescues and to help local families (under our supervision). Introductions can end in heartbreak, so you have to take advantage of all the tips that are out there. Talk to people who do it all the time. Advice from someone who has done it once successfully unfortunately does not prepare you for the worst.

<b>B. Your Safety</b>

I know they look and act all cute and cuddly, but that single, innocent little sugar glider in your pocket can turn into a real terror if he or she feels compelled to fight or defend itself against another sugar glider. For this reason, it is important that you arm yourself with gloves or wrap fleece around your hands so if you have to pull them apart, you will not be bitten really hard. A sugar glider bite that goes down to the tendon sheath level can cause a virulent infection that will put you in the hospital.

I am not talking about the tiny nips you get when you get bitten by mistake when you are feeding a treat. I am talking about them sinking their sharp lower teeth a good half inch into your finger all the way down to the bone.

They do not do this to you because they want to hurt you, but usually just because if they are in a fight with another glider, they bite wildly and blindly because they are fighting for their lives sometimes.

It is important to understand that you must prepare for separating two (or more) fighting sugar gliders and that the separation must happen immediately, without hesitation. That's why you need to have gloves on. If you are the type of person that freaks out easily and will flake out at the sight of fighting, you better get someone in the room who has the guts to do this at a moment's notice or else your weakness could spell death for one or more animals.

<b>C. Suggie Safety & Welfare</b>

Sugar Gliders will fight to the death if they decide they don't like each other for whatever reason. Maybe a snit starts and one gets defensive and does a lunge and that is returned by a small bite. Then it may escalate into a flying fur ball of death. I am not joking around here. When sugar gliders decide they do not like each other, or if one feels compelled to defend its territory, they will fight to the death and unfortunately, that takes only seconds. Some may emerge from a fight badly cut up or maimed but it can be ugly.

This means you must be very diligent and keep vigil when you introduce gliders to one another. Do it at night when you are in for the evening and with the idea that you will have to camp out next to their cage to make sure a tentative friendship lasts all night.

Based on our experience with dozens of both successful and failed introductions, the "first impression" is what counts. If two suggies sniff at each other and start kissing and grooming one another, there's a 90% chance they are going to make it as cage mates. But if two suggies sniff at each other and just start fighting, there's a 90% chance they will do that over and over each time you try.

If you "think" they are getting along and then you just leave them together for the night and walk away, you could be signing the death warrant for one or both of them. You MUST stay with them and stand vigil and be ready to take them apart if they decide to fight. If they end up in the same pouch or nesting box together, that is a good sign, but you should put the cage next to your bed that night and sleep with one eye open, with gloves at the ready in case you have to pull them apart if they start fighting.

Another aspect of the Suggies' safety and welfare deals with the general health of the gliders. Before you "introduce" a new glider or gliders to an existing colony, do a 30-day quarantine of the new ones in their own cage. It's a good idea to do this and get a wellness check two weeks into the quarantine period or at the end. Certain parasites may be in incubation when you get a glider so it's best to wait a full 30 days for that reason.

Size and age also figure in to the Suggies' safety and welfare. If the existing glider or gliders are BIG compared to the new one - don't put them together yet because the big ones may easily kill the little one if they reject her. Wait till the new one(s) catch up size-wise.

This is ESPECIALLY important for joeys. Do NOT do introductions where there are young joeys at risk. It takes no time whatsoever for an adult glider to kill a teeny-weenie glider. The adult can easily pierce the skull of a joey if it is on a territorial rampage. Simply put... Put some FAT on those babies and wait until neuter age - 4.5 months, get them neutered, let them recover THEN attempt the intro. They will be sub-adult at that point, not all hopped-up on testosterone, and much more likely to survive an attack that you can break up.

<b>D. Sugar Glider Territorial Dynamics</b>

Generally speaking, it is easier to introduce two lone gliders to one another because they are lonely and crave interaction with a member of their own species. That is no guarantee; however. It does not matter if you are pairing two females, two males or a male and a female. Neutering of the males ahead of time and waiting a few weeks for the testosterone levels to go down is a good idea.

The dynamic is greatly simplified if there are only two. Why? Because the lone glider is not an "alpha" of a colony and has no one else to defend but itself.

Try putting one in one hand and one in the other so you can hold on to them and comfort them. Slowly bring them together and see what the reaction is. If they don't start fighting, you can put them down on a fleece and see if they get along. But be ready to pull them apart.

It is OK if hissing and crabbing and a little lunging goes on, just listen for "screaming" which is like a high-pitched sound on top of frantic crabbing. That's real fighting. If they break each others' skin you must watch them closely because if it gets infected, that may trigger self mutilation.

If they make each other bleed, call your vet. But if you are diligent you can pull them away from each other hopefully before any real damage is done. Scrapes and cuts have a tendency to be over-groomed which can lead to self-mutilation, so you should have an e-collar on hand in case it is needed before you go to the vet.

If you introduce them in a tent bring them together if the total is four or less. Any more and it might be too hard to handle them all if they start fighting. I say this assuming you will be in the tent with them. If you are in the tent with them you can easily separate them if there is a fight. If you don't use a tent, you can try a bathroom. Put fleece on the counters.

You can also try "supervised visitation" by putting them in a (Ventilated) pouch together but with your hand in there. you can take your hand out when they sleep, but keep it in when they are awake.

The dynamics of an existing colony are MUCH different. Here, an existing alpha male or female, especially if sexually mature, will want to defend its turf and will have a tendency to attack any other sugar glider that is not already imprinted with the colony's native scent. Usually, the alpha male or alpha female emerges as the defender and will make a bee-line for the intruder and just start fighting.

It is rare that a single glider being introduced to an existing colony is accepted. It is more common that the single "intruder" is attacked.

FOR THIS REASON YOU SHOULD HAVE TWO CAGES (you will already have two if you quarantine) in case they need to be kept separate. THIS MEANS YOU ARE TAKING ON A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY IN ACQUIRING ANOTHER GLIDER BECAUSE... he or she may end up in a separate cage.

If you can't deal with that, then don't even try it. It's not the animal's fault that it does not work out so you have to have a big enough heart to care for two cages worth of animals now instead of dumping the new one.

<b>E. Top Twelve Introduction Tips</b>

Here are ten related tips dealing with introductions you should remember:

1. Quarantine first. It's also good idea to take all animals to the vet for a check-up (two weeks after you get them so the incubation period for certain parasites has passed). And be prepared to take them to a vet in a hurry if/when they start biting each other and they cause open wounds.

2. Make sure the females are NOT pregnant. Introductions, especially failed ones, may trigger enough stress for her to destroy her babies. Talk to your vet about the quarantine period.

3. "Pick on someone your own size." The new ones must be the same size as the existing alpha male. They have to be able to defend themselves long enough for you to separate them. If you throw someone else's babies in there, your established gliders could kill them in a snap.

4. Males should be neutered before introductions if they are old enough (4.5 months) and give them a few weeks to recover and normalize. It's easier to do "strange" introductions with neutered males. The less testosterone the better.

5. When sugar gliders attack and fight, they do so blindly and fearlessly. They will roll up into a ball and bite anything they can get their teeth on. During introductions, wear gloves. If you get bit deeply on the finger, an injection of bacteria into the tendon sheath can land you in the hospital. When fighting they are like fed "Gremlins" after midnight and go from angels to devils instantly. Believe it.

6. The introduction "environment" must be an open, glider-safe neutral space OUTSIDE OF THE CAGE. Do NOT just plop gliders in the same cage to see what happens. You must be able to maneuver in and amongst them and you cannot have a tiny door as an obstacle. A bathroom is perfect for this purpose and inside the shower stall (door closed) or in the bathtub (drain closed) is a perfect space.

7. Give them something to snuggle in together but not a tight space like a pouch. Instead you can use handfuls of fleece because it is easier to pull them apart if they start to fight that way.

8. No amount of swapping bedding, swapping cages, putting cages close together incrementally is going to change the fate of a mean glider that just hates other gliders. Don't get yourself all worked up into fervid hope for a whole month of this preparation. It only takes a few minutes to figure out if there is going to be aggression so don't waste a whole month to find something out that will only take a few minutes. Bite the bullet and put them together. If they don't get along, you can REVERT to the whole incremental cage closeness, swapping bedding thing. That's a fallback, Hail Mary plan, not the standard procedure.

If they fight, separate them immediately.Obviously, in order to first quarantine them, you will need a second cage anyway. Have enough room in your heart to take them as pets separately if the union fails. That is a distinct possibility.

9. Introducing females to an adult male is a lot easier than introducing another male, neutered or not. Even adult males and females will fight each other when introduced, but he is less likely to fight with a female then a male. Males can get along, but you'd do very well to neuter them first. This is a warning. If the established male is neutered it is better. It takes only 4 to 5 months for established males to assert their sense of territory as they grow up. Neutered ones will also fight, but the less testosterone the better.

10. Sleepy Introduction Warning. It's easier to introduce someone new if they are sleeping or sleepy. You can put them in a pouch and have your hand at the ready. They will wake up smelling a combination of their own scent and the scent of the "other." However, you must now let them play out in the open and get a load of each other while they are wide awake. Do not assume they are OK with each other just because they slept in the same spot. This is a warning.

11. Keep food away at first. Some gliders are really territorial about their food - especially around strangers. Wait long enough for them to show you they are getting along before food is introduced as a variable.

12. If a female is in estrous, it's better to delay introductions. You'll know if she is because the male(s) will be trying to mount her and bother her, neutered or not. And if she keeps chasing him or them away in the standard ritual, that's not a time when introducing strange gliders is a good idea.

If you want to talk about this in more detail before attempting to try an introduction, please contact Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary on 877-504-5145

Edited by - LuckyGlider on Feb 05 2011 09:15:42 AM
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Jan 08 2010
06:37:24 PM
snusie Goofy Gorillatoes GliderMap Gliderpedia Editor Visit snusie's Photo Album snusie's Journal USA 2962 Posts
Bookmarked! Thank you so much.
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Jan 08 2010
08:32:33 PM
kyro298 Glider Sprinkles GliderMap Gliderpedia Editor Visit kyro298's Photo Album kyro298's Journal CO, USA 15262 Posts
If you don't mind, I think I'll add a link to this thread in my Gliderpedia article for intros. :) As usual, fantastic info!
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Jan 08 2010
10:59:31 PM
Moriko Face Hugger GliderMap Gliderpedia Editor Visit Moriko's Photo Album Moriko's Journal AL, USA 943 Posts
Thanks for the information and taking the time to accumulate it all! Greetings from everyone here, Ed. Keep up the AMAZING work! =) Oh yeah.. bookmarked! =)
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Jan 10 2010
05:53:33 PM
LuckyGlider Zippy Glidershorts GliderMap Visit LuckyGlider's Photo Album LuckyGlider's Journal TX, USA 5266 Posts
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by kyro298</i>
<br />If you don't mind, I think I'll add a link to this thread in my Gliderpedia article for intros. :) As usual, fantastic info!
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></font id="quote"></blockquote id="quote">

of course. our pleasure as always to work with you :-)
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Sep 25 2010
02:05:59 PM
Dtflick Starting Member 1 Posts
I recently introduced a male with my established female. I started by placing them in each others bonding bags to get used to each others smell and placed the bags in close proximity so they were in view of each other. Once they were put into the same cage, the female retreated to her nesting box while the make explored his new home. When i checked on them in the morning they were both snuggled together in the sleeping pouch. I have no doubt that placing them in each others bonding bags got other used to each other without putting them in physical contact with each other and greatly reduced the stress of introduction. Just sn idea for those of you in the future.
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Sep 25 2010
02:28:43 PM
Rae Glider Visit Rae's Photo Album 131 Posts
You only seem to talk about male on male intros and female on male intros...what about female on female intros?
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Sep 25 2010
02:29:37 PM
WintersSong Fuzzy Wuzzy 1417 Posts
Female to female introductions would work the same way.
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Sep 25 2010
03:16:50 PM
bholland7 Face Hugger Visit bholland7's Photo Album bholland7's Journal USA 650 Posts
Thank you for the information. Any advise for intorducing a set of four to a set of two. 5 females and one male(neutered)
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Sep 25 2010
07:31:18 PM
Megs06 BANNED_ACCOUNT Gliderpedia Editor Visit Megs06's Photo Album USA 1 Posts
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Dtflick</i>
<br />I recently introduced a male with my established female. I started by placing them in each others bonding bags to get used to each others smell and placed the bags in close proximity so they were in view of each other. Once they were put into the same cage, the female retreated to her nesting box while the make explored his new home. When i checked on them in the morning they were both snuggled together in the sleeping pouch. I have no doubt that placing them in each others bonding bags got other used to each other without putting them in physical contact with each other and greatly reduced the stress of introduction. Just sn idea for those of you in the future.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></font id="quote"></blockquote id="quote">

So the first time they were actually together was in a cage?

I highly advise against that, for (I'm sure) obvious reasons.
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Sep 25 2010
08:40:20 PM
angelmom Goofy Gorillatoes GliderMap Visit angelmom's Photo Album USA 2002 Posts
Thank you for posting this. It was great to see that I was doing everything possible correctly in all of my introductions!

I've decided Win is a freak hahaha!
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Sep 25 2010
09:34:14 PM
Megs06 BANNED_ACCOUNT Gliderpedia Editor Visit Megs06's Photo Album USA 1 Posts
I beg to differ. You told us you weren't putting them in the same room prior to intros, nor near each other. That's an ultimate must prior to intros. Many would agree with me. Especially since it's worked for them that way as well.
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Sep 26 2010
05:38:11 AM
filly47 Goofy Gorillatoes Gliderpedia Editor Visit filly47's Photo Album USA 2330 Posts
Thank you Ed for your service to the glider community!
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Sep 26 2010
10:12:33 AM
dpatters28 Goofy Gorillatoes GliderMap Gliderpedia Editor Visit dpatters28's Photo Album USA 3134 Posts
What an excellent article! Once I finally get the courage to introduce my duo to my lone glider, I will follow these steps. Hopefully it all goes well cuz the few times they've been in each other's presense, Chester and Athena haven't been too friendly towards each other.
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Sep 26 2010
06:53:24 PM
angelmom Goofy Gorillatoes GliderMap Visit angelmom's Photo Album USA 2002 Posts
Megs- Obviously, I couldn't tell you about each individual experience since I tried something DIFFERENT with each of them. My last intros went EXACTLY like this under vet direction within my home and they still didn't work out.
So yes, its good to know I did something right!
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Oct 14 2010
07:00:22 PM
Jmekatzoe@yahoo.com Glider Visit Jmekatzoe@yahoo.com's Photo Album USA 52 Posts
Wow thank you soooooo much for posting this!
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Sep 26 2011
11:39:54 AM
RChurch Fuzzy Wuzzy Visit RChurch's Photo Album RChurch's Journal USA 1377 Posts
I will be printing this out ASAP!
 Look what I found on Ebay
2010 Edition: LGRS Sugar Glider Introductions Primer

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Sugar Gliders
2010 Edition: LGRS Sugar Glider Introductions Primer