Bringing Your Joey Home

Keeping Your Joey Warm

It is important to remember that your new joey is used to being with its mama and papa all the time. Sugar gliders are very social animals that need a lot of contact with you and also with another glider. Your joey is still quite small and will chill easily. Make sure that you keep it warm enough. This is easily done by keeping it in a pouch next to your body and by providing a warm, fleece blanket or pouch in its nest. (Do not use terry cloth or towels for blankets since your joey's tiny nails can easily get caught in the loops.) Do not use heat lamps nor heating rocks since they can "bake" and/or burn your joey. Keep your joey's cage away from vents and windows so that any breezes that may be generated will not affect it.

Bonding With Your Joey

Before bringing your new joey home, buy a half yard of fleece and cut one 6" wide strip of it into 6" squares and the other 12" strip into 12" squares. The 6" blankets will be used to help your bonding process once the joey is home with you. Sleep with some of these blankets tucked into your pajamas or nightgown so that they will get your scent on them. In the morning, put the newly scented blankets into a ziploc bag to retain your scent. Do this with a few blankets each night until all of them are scented. Once you bring your joey home, place a fresh blanket into its pouch each evening, removing the "dirty" one, laundering it & then rescenting it. The joey will then be sleeping with your scent & this will help him/her to become acclimated to your scent. Since gliders are very scent-oriented, this is one of the best ways to get your joey used to you in a short amount of time.

Your joey will be stressed for the first 2-3 days after bringing it home. Allow your joey to simply be in its new cage for at least the first 24 hours without trying to touch it. I know it's hard, you've waited so long to bring him/her home & now you have to wait 24 hours, but it will be worth it because it will actually help with your bonding process. During that first 24 hours, you can sit in a chair near the cage & talk quietly to your new companion. You can read a book out loud, if you prefer. This will help your joey get used to the sound of your voice. Say the joey's name multiple times during your "conversation" with him/her and this will help acclimate the joey to its new name.

After the first day, keep your joey with you during the daytime in its pouch as much as you can at first: at least 2-3 hours a day. This will help your joey get used to your smell and voice and will greatly aid you in bonding with it. I like to put my hand in my gliders' pouch and gently rub them while they are sleeping. This also gets them used to being handled by you. If your joey tries to nip you when you try to do this, don't be discouraged: just rub it from the outside of the pouch for a while until it gets used to the feeling, then gradually start putting your hand inside instead.

Periodically, offer your joey a treat - some dried fruit, a grape, a pine nut, a bit of fresh fruit or vegetable. This will help the joey associate you with good things. You can also use a bit of applesauce or yogurt on your fingertip. However, keep in mind that sugar gliders are naturally sap suckers, so you will want to "replenish" the supply of applesauce or yogurt before actually running out or your joey may nip you trying to get more "sap" out of your finger.

Tent Time - A Bonding Technique

After a week or so, you will be ready to start tent-time with your joey. This is one of the best bonding techniques available to us. Go to WalMart or a similar store and buy an inexpensive pop-up dome tent - make sure it's large enough for you to sit comfortably in but not too large to pop open in a room in your home. Each evening, pop open the tent, lay a large piece of fleece in the bottom of it and place/hang some glider toys in it (including a wheel and a ferret's feather-teaser).

Bring your glider, in its pouch, into the tent with you, along with something for you to do, such as a book to read. Another option is to set the tent up so the window is directed towards the TV and turn on your favorite show at a quiet volume. Bring some treats into the tent with you, too. It is also a good idea to bring in a supply of kleenex or paper towels to wipe up any messes the glider makes. Zip the tent up, place the pouch with the glider on the floor of the tent and get yourself comfortable.

The glider will gradually come out of the pouch to explore its surroundings. This will be a gradual process, so be patient and allow the joey to take its own pace. In the meantime, read your book, watch TV or otherwise occupy yourself, basically ignoring the joey. The joey will start to explore and play. Gradually, the joey will start to explore you, too. When the joey comes to you, gently offer a treat to reward it for coming to you. Use the feather-teaser to distract the joey if it starts to nibble on you. The joey will learn that you are a positive thing & you will become the joey's personal "tree" or "jungle-gym". This process allows the joey to get used to you on its own terms.

What to Buy Before Your Joey Comes Home

A homemade pvc-coated wire cage (wire from C.E. Shepherd Co.)

A Glider-Safe Cage:

There are several options viable, but keep in mind that the cage should be a minimum size of 18"d x 24"w x 36"h.

If you want to purchase a ready-made cage, there are really just two options - a wire cage or a Glide-arium. A wire cage needs to have bars that have 1/2" spacing or less. A Glide-arium is similar to a Reptarium, but has been designed specifically for sugar gliders. I used Glide-ariums for my gliders for several years and found them easy to clean, lightweight and aesthetically appealing due to being available in a variety of colors. However, if your glider is known to be a "chewer" then a Glide-arium is not the right choice for you - a wire cage would be much better. The Glider Initiative sells 3 different popular wire cages. 

If you want to make your own cage, there are several options, many of which can be found on the various glider forums on the internet. Do a search for "homemade glider cage" and several good options come up. Most homemade cages are relatively simple in design and fairly easy to make. The advantage of a homemade cage is that you can make them whatever size you want as long as they meet the minimum size listed above. I've heard of people who have made an entire room in their home into a walk-in glider cage by using a combination of glider-proofing the room and applying some type of vinyl-coated mesh to most of the vertical surfaces and the doorway.

Cage Accessories

  • Water Bottle
  • Cage Pouches and/or Cage Set
  • Enrichment Toys
  • Glider-safe Wheel
  • Cage Liners
  • Food Bowls
  • Glider Kitchen 
  • Cage Cover or Wall Protector

Feeding Supplies/Groceries

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (wide variety)
  • Yogurt (no artificial sweeteners)
  • Mealworms (live or freeze-dried)
  • Ingredients for Protein Nectar (for specific diet you will feed)

Continue reading about Sugar Glider care at

Feeding Your Joeys and Adult Gliders