Pricey pocket-sized pet proves popular
One of the most popular booths at World of Pets Expo in Timonium over the weekend was that of “Pocket Pets,” distributors of Sugar Gliders, a tiny squirrel-like marsupial that lives in the wild in Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea and Tasmania.
They’re cute little boogers, with big brown eyes. Imagine a squirrel, crossed with a bat (would that be a squat?). The company says they are inexpensive to feed and care for, don’t smell bad or bite and are quick to bond with humans(contrary to some Internet reports). The company calls them “sugar bears,” and they sell for upwards of $400.
They’ve been sold in the US. for more than 15 years, and grown increasingly popular — in part because they’re so easily transportable. They love being in pockets, partly because that’s how they traveled in their infancy, partly because of the warmth the human body provides.
They’re also capable of gliding, having a fur covered membrane between their wrists and ankle that serves like a parachute when they jump of tree limbs.
Fascinating little creatures, and it was nice to get an up close look at them. But their domestication struck me as a little sad — that life soaring from treetops, for some, has been replaced by living in a pair of Levis. The average life span of a sugar glider is 12 to 15 years.
While Pocket Pets says sugar gliders are not exotic pets, the Humane Society of the United States considers them just that — and says that as such they require considerable expertise and specialized facilities. ”Wild or exotic animals — even those who were captive-born or hand-raised by people — have not been adjusted to life with humans. Doing so takes generation after generation. So keeping them as pets is usually inhumane — deliberately or not — and comes with threats to human health and safety.”