Talk To The Animals: Understanding Your Glider's Sounds And What They Mean
Most people who have never owned a sugar glider assume these tiny marsupials are quiet little animals. They couldn't be more wrong. Sugar gliders have a rich variety of sounds that they produce and each sound has different pitches giving them a rich vocabulary that only another glider and the people who love them can understand. Here are a few of those sounds and their meanings.
Some gliders have several kinds of barks but, my gliders only vocalize two. What I call the come play with me bark and the conversational bark. When my gliders give a single bark and then pause for several seconds and then give another single bark followed by another pause. He is calling one of his humans to come and play or at least pay him attention. Though I currently have 6 gliders in three different cages in two different rooms only one glider seems to demand human attention at once.
Then there is the conversational bark. This bark is usually done in short barking spurts and then a second glider will answer and more may or may not join in. My gliders also carry on conversations with our love bird, and both our dogs and sometimes even our chinchillas. A sugar glider bark sounds like the small squeaky bark of a young puppy and it is often quite loud.
If you have heard a sugar glider crabbing it is a sound you will never forget. Some believe that the sound is much like locust wings but, to me crabbing sounds very much like a nest of angry rattlesnakes. This noise is very loud and intimidating as well it should be because it is one of the gliders main ways to protect themselves. Ignoring a crabbing glider could get you bit as this sound is a warning for you to stay away because you glider is afraid.
A Gliders purr sounds much like the purr of a very small kitten only it is much quieter and difficult to hear. Gliders purr when they are contented and this sound means they trust you and feel comfortable. I mostly hear my gliders purr when they crawl up under my hair and settle in for a short nap.
The chattering of a sugar glider sounds pretty much like the chattering your teeth do when you are cold., except gliders chatter when they are happy or playful. I have one glider who loves playing hide and seek with me whenever he is out of the cage for playtime. He will climb up on top of a bookcase, or on the curtain rod and when I pretend I don't see him he will chatter to get my attention. The minute I look he will duck behind something so he can't be found. He is happy to continue this game for quite sometime before ambushing me when I am not looking.
Mewling Or Crying
When a joey is left alone in the sack while the mom or dad are out in the cage they sometimes get lonely. When they do they have this plaintive mewling sound they use to get their parents attention. Gliders make very good parents and they share the responsibility for their offspring. It usually does not take much mewling to send one of the parents back to the sleeping sack to comfort their little one.
Gliders use different types of hissing to convey different things. Twin joeys will often hiss at one another if they feel crowded or if they are fighting for mom or dad's attention.
Adult gliders who arch their back with their tail in the air and make short distinct hissing sounds are usually constipated and in need of help. While a glider that will stretch out their hiss with a pause in between is often saying to their mate “come here now!”
Perhaps the sweetest and the most startling of all the gliders sounds is the mother glider singing to the baby that is still in the pouch. There really is no mistaking this sound for anything other than singing because it is short and rhythmical just as our own forms of music are.
Gliders are hardly ever completely silent even when sleeping. Even when their sounds are too soft for our own hearing they can hear one another. When gliders are totally silent it is something that we humans sense rather than hear and usually means that for some reason they sense an unidentified danger and trying to avoid being noticed.
Gliders are fun and unusual pets and the richness of their language and their communication skills are just one of the many things that make them one of my favorite pets.