Bonding is the most important building block in a nurturing relationship with your glider. The best explanation and understanding about bonding is from Shelly Sterk and her site The Glider Nursery. With her permission we have posted her explanation below.
Bonding with your Sugar Gliders
Bonding is referred to the ultimate relationship we build between ourselves and our sugar gliders. However, its much more than that, it is trust building. One cannot have a bond with their sugar glider until their sugar glider begins to trust them. This is not something that is typically achieved quickly. But trust me, it's worth the wait!
Bonding CAN be done with any aged sugar glider. You do not have to purchase joeys in order to form a bond with them. Just like any other pet that is purchased or adopted at older ages, you can develop a wonderful relationship with each of them. Every sugar glider is different, regardless of age. You can get a well socialized 10 week old joey from a reputable breeder and it may take time and slow progress to fully bond with them. Likewise, you can adopt an adult pair of sugar gliders and have an amazing bond within a very short time frame. This will all depend on the personality of the animal and how well they adjust to their new environment.
New joeys going into a home may be extremely sweet while with the breeder. This is seen many times with video clips breeders take while handling the joeys. Unfortunately, that does not mean that joey will be that calm and sweet upon arrival into their new home. Many changes take place, and take place very quickly when they are pulled from their parents and are put into new homes. You have literally rocked their world, turned it upside down. Everything they have ever known since day one has been completely changed. Please do not feel that this is a failure on your breeder's part; this is simply a stage that many joeys will go through. Each one handles the situation differently. Be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best.
When you get your new sugar gliders, you will begin the bonding, or trust building process, the first day you have them. When you get them, you need to begin by looking at things from their perspective. A great article to read on this is Building a Relationship with Your Glider. Another helpful article is Into the Bonding Pit. I would suggest to start by reading those two articles before doing anything with your new sugar gliders.
What are the keys to bonding success?
Without all three of those, you will not achieve that bond that we all hold so dear with these marvelous marsupials.
One of the first things you must learn is how to communicate with your sugar glider. This isn't an easy thing to do. You have to be very patient, recognize the signs, and listen to them. It may take you a while to figure this out. Once you do, and you listen to what your sugar glider is telling you, they will begin to trust you.
Your sugar glider will typically give you three signs that they don't like what you are trying to do. You have to really pay attention to them to be able to recognize and truly listen to them.
1.) "I'm not really comfortable with that." - will be shown by a subtle body movement. It may be a twitch of an ear, or the raising of a foot, any type of body language.
2.) "I SAID I don't like that!" - will be shown with a crab.
3.) "I tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen." - will be shown with a bite.
Time and patience is what will win your sugar glider over. Once you recognize that first sign, you then pull back, or stop what you are doing, to let him know that you understand. He'll then begin to trust you. From there, you will be able to move forward slowly and each time you see the signs, listen to what he/she is telling you. Sometimes it feels like one step forward, and two steps back, but you'll get there!