We all know that sugar gliders are some of the cutest animals around. However, they have just recently been kept as pets by humans and are not domesticated. Because of this, even a bonded sugar glider will keep some of their wild habits.
For some people this wild behavior can be a deal breaker when considering a pet sugar glider. In this article we’ll cover one of those often-questioned wild behaviors: biting sugar gliders.
So, do sugar gliders bite? Yes, sugar gliders sometimes bite, but this brief answer isn’t fair to our lovable friends. You need to know the reasons why your sugar glider may bite and what you can do about it. Understanding this behavior will help you decide for yourself if sugar glider biting is a deal breaker.
Why Do Sugar Gliders Bite?
While we may think a sugar glider is being aggressive when it bites us, there are other explanations for why your sugar glider may bite you.
Sugar Gliders Bite Out of Fear
Sugar gliders biting out of fear is most likely to happen when you first get your sugar glider, and he or she doesn’t know anything about you. Being afraid of you will be a natural reaction for your sugar glider.
However, when they bite out of fear, it can be a little painful and even break the skin. Younger sugar gliders (when they are generally adopted) don’t always have the strength for a very painful bite. If it is painful to you, the pain will likely be fleeting.
Another sign that your sugar glider is biting because they are scared is that they will also be crabbing. Properly bonding with your sugar glider will go far in minimizing these bites.
Sugar gliders don’t only bite out of fear when they are getting know you though. Even if you’ve had them a while, moving too quickly or coming at them in a threatening way, may still cause a scared sugar glider to bite.
Treat sugar gliders with the same care you would a dog or cat. Just like you wouldn’t quickly approach an unknown dog, or move to pet it in an aggressive manner, don’t do that with sugar gliders. This includes poking your finger through the cage of an unbonded sugar glider to sneak a pet.
Being so little makes sugar gliders vulnerable which means they must quickly act when they feel threatened.
Sugar Gliders Nibble Out of Love
Sugar gliders are social animals and will nibble on each other to show love and affections. It’s also a way for them to groom their friends.
While it can be hard to distinguish a love nibble and grooming from some other soft bites and light nips, you’ll definitely be able to tell your sugar glider isn’t trying to fatally wound you with a bite.
Some sugar glider owners adore love nibbles from their little pals. Other sugar glider owners really aren’t fond of them. Later we’ll cover some ways to discourage love nibbles from your sugar gliders.
Sugar Gliders Bite to Test You
Sugar gliders bite to test you in two different ways. Luckily these bites are usually soft and while they may be shocking, they won’t really hurt.
Some sugar gliders seem to have a need to taste everything new! This is probably inherited from their foraging ways in the wild. If you have a new smell on your hand, from other animals or food, your sweet little pal might lightly bite you to test your new taste.
The other way sugar gliders like to test you isn’t quite as cute, but mercifully just as painless. When sugar gliders aren’t fully matured, they’ll bite to push the boundaries and see what they can get away with.
While they generally grow out of this phase it can last for a while. Fortunately, just like with love nibbles, there are some ways you can dampen their enthusiasm to push your boundaries.
Do Sugar Gliders Play Bite?
Sugar gliders will play bite with you, especially when they are in the testing the boundaries phase. Just as the soft bites mentioned before, these bites will more startle you then hurt.
You can try using the negative reinforcement methods (covered below) of blowing of sternly saying ‘No!’ to discourage this behavior.
Sugar gliders will also play bite each other, keep an eye on them to make sure it really is playing. When sugar gliders don’t get along, they are known to make life difficult for each other.
How Often Do Sugar Gliders Bite?
As you can see there are many reasons a sugar glider might bite, but only one of them is cause for concern. Once you’ve learned how to approach your sugar glider in a nonthreatening way, and then bonded with it, hard bites will basically stop.
How to Stop Sugar Gliders Biting
The first thing you need to determine when stopping a sugar glider from biting is its reason for biting. If your sugar glider is biting out of fear, the best way to keep it from biting you is to not frighten it.
Remember, younger sugar gliders don’t have the strength to bite as hard and bonding with a joey will usually be quicker than with an older sugar glider.
If your sugar glider is giving you love nibbles, or testing your boundaries, you can use a few methods to discourage the behavior. Some sugar glider owners like to have a treat on hand to give their little buddies when they start to nibble or soft bite.
Try apple sauce or honey to distract them, having to lick it up keeps them busy longer, over a treat that can be chewed and gobbled up quickly.
While this does distract your lovable pals from nibbling on you, you’ll also train your sugar gliders to tell you when they want a treat. Sugar gliders usually grow out of testing your boundaries but, many of them love nibble for life. So, you might end up needing to keep treats handy forever.
If you want to avoid being a trained treat dispenser, you can also use negative reinforcement to discourage your sugar gliders from soft bites or love nibbles.
Sugar gliders don’t like air blown on their head. Some sugar glider owners have reported success with responding to light bites and nibbles with a blowing on them as soon as they bite.
Other sugar glider owners have trained their suggies to stop test biting and love nibbling by firmly saying ‘No!’. You don’t want to yell at your little buddies of course, but you want to say it strong enough to get their attention.
For obvious reasons, neither of these last two methods will work well if your sugar glider is still biting out of fear.
Are Sugar Glider Bites Dangerous?
Any animal bite has the potential to be dangerous, especially if the bite breaks your skin. Luckily, sugar gliders will rarely break the skin when biting you. If they do, you’ll need to take the same proper precautions you would for other animal bites.
Clean and bandage the wound and keep an eye on it. If you notice anything unusual with your body consult with your doctor right away.
Summary: Sugar Glider Bites
Sugar gliders will bite you, but most of the time it’s nothing more than a love nibble or a light nip to test their boundaries.
Sugar gliders generally only bite hard when they are scared. It’s up to you, as their caregiver, to approach them in a nonthreatening way. This will be much easier once successfully bond with them in a way that they are no longer scared of you.
Try treats to stop love nibbles and light bites. If you don’t want to do that, a firm negative reinforcement will eventually train most sugar gliders to stop.