Mr. K and I don't live in a huge flat. In fact, it's a smallish 1 bedroom, but somehow we managed to pitch a one person tent in the middle of the living room floor last night. Why would we do such a thing? Let me fill you in.
As I've mentioned dozens of times before, the bonding process with your Sugar Glider is incredibly important. A "tame" or "bonded" Sugar Glider will be willing to hang out on your shoulder, in your hair or in a pocket even if out in public. Gus and Fiona were introduced to people and being handled when it was appropriate, but they don't know us. We have to work very patiently and diligently to get them used to us and our scent.
One of the ways we have been doing that is by using a bonding pouch. Mr. K has been scooping them into the zippered pouch every day and we've taken turns carrying Gus and Fiona around. We started this on Monday with much "crabbing" from both Sugar Gliders. Fiona was the fussiest and sometimes if you shifted wrong, she would crab at you from inside her bonding pouch. After a few days of using the bonding pouch, Mr. K and I thought it was time to let Fiona and Gus get to know us while they were awake.
Enter the tent.
A lot of what I have read online has suggested using a small tent, large closet or a very contained, controlled environment in which to release your Sugar Gliders when working on the bonding process. Spaces like the tent or large closet would ensure the safety of the Sugar Glider while allowing them to roam and play. At first we were going to block off our front foyer, but one of our friends said she had a tent. Mr. K pitched it last night and we crawled in with Gus and Fiona. Everything we had read had said to be prepared for sitting in there for a few hours. So, we put reruns of Home Improvement on and settled in. Oh, the benefits of being blind; watching television from inside a tent you can't see.
I can't say it was the most comfortable place to be. We were squished into a one person tent, pitched on a hard wood floor. Glacier and Roscoe weren't amused either. They kept circling the tent and snuffing, trying to figure out why we were in the little room and they weren't.
When we first went in, we opened the bonding pouch Gus and Fiona were in and put it down a ways from us. Both joeys crabbed loudly and we weren't entirely sure they would ever stop. Eventually, they began to calm down and Gus was the first furry creature to emerge. He scurried around the floor of the tent and ran up and down the walls. He practiced his acrobatics and leapt from the ceiling to the floor and back again. He happily scurried up my sweater and down my arms. He took a yogurt drop-a treat-from my shoulder and chirped happily.
Fiona took a bit longer to warm up to us, but after about 40 minutes, she joined her brother in frolicking around the tent. The best part was when Gus thought he should encourage her along and would jump on the pouch that she was hiding in. He kept doing this, with intervals of racing about, until she finally came out. We let them play for about n hour and a half and it was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. They jumped along the walls, climbed Mr. K and I, groomed Mr. K and just generally had a great time. We didn't really pet them, but it was so cool to feel their little paws on our hands.
Eventually, Mr. K and I were getting very sore from sitting squished into the tent and we decided it was time to get the little fuzzy fools back into their pouch. Originally, I had suggested bringing their food into the tent, tucked in the carrying box we brought them home in. That way, when it was time to get out, we could open the lid, they would hop in and we could transport them safely back to their cage. In all of the crazy gliding and hopping, Mr. K had thought they might be hungry and had opened the food container. They both jumped in as I had hoped, but it was too early and so we hadn't taken them back to their cage at that time. Because of this, getting the little munchkins out safely turned into quite the adventure.
Gus at some point hopped into the pouch and Mr. K was able to zip it shut. Gus crabbed quite loudly and persistently because he was ticked about being in the pouch. He wasn't done playing; especially since his sister was still free.
Fiona took much longer; probably another 40 minutes. We tried coaxing her into the food box, but she would dart in and out much too quickly for us to shut the lid. We spent much of the time playing with her, by moving our hands towards her and having her skitter away. She's a fast little stinker and I think she was having a good time playing Cat and Mouse.
After about 40 minutes Mr. K and I were much too warm to stay in the tent any longer. I took Gus in his pouch prison to the cage to let him out. I didn't think it was fair that he had to stay in there with Fiona bouncing around like a maniac. I unzipped the pouch, closed the cage door and he almost immediately popped out.
While I was busy with Gus, Mr. K managed to convince Fiona to get in the box, which is more like an insect aquarium, and close the lid. She too was returned to her cage and released.
Both joeys were so happy to see each other after their separation. They chirped and began playing with one another.
It was so cool to be a part of something as special as getting a little animal to trust you. Today when Mr. K scooped Fiona and Gus out into the bonding pouch, neither of them crabbed. Fiona even gave Mr. K kisses on his finger. This is a complete 180 from the previous days. Fiona was the hardest to get out of the cage and would crab long after she had been tucked safely into the pouch. It's amazing to think that a few hours of hanging out in a tent, squished like a human pretzel could make such a huge difference. The funny thing is, no matter how uncomfortable I was, I'd do it all again if it meant that Gus and Fiona would trust us more. We still haven't really petted them yet, but I think that day will come sooner than we think; just as long as we keep what we're doing and don't force Gus and Fiona aggressively.