My Marsupial Neighbors–Sugar Gliders?!?

Wren on November 29th, 2008

Hippie Hoo. I’m my usual strange mix of indignant and enamoured. One of the vendors near me at this year’s Festival of Trees is a double booth of young guys selling tiny marsupials from Australia called sugar gliders. These little critters seem friendly and easily bonded to humans, very appealing as “pocket pets,” which happens to be the name of the business. Hmm.

I held one in my hands and let it climb on me. They undulate and leap around and they’re charming. But when I got home tonight I went online to get the scoop. I don’t think these guys are telling people that these are social animals who NEED their own kind. If you buy just one (and one costs $400+, including specialized equipment and a year’s supply of food) it will become depressed, no matter how much human companionship you give it.

I have to smile at myself because I immediately want one and am outraged that they would sell tiny sensitive critters in a loud, crowed festival. I don’t know what to think about a $400 flying hamster! Should living beings be impulse items offered at a holiday festival?

Update: On the second day of the show, I visited the sugar gliders late in the day. The “ambassador” pets which the salespeople used were exhausted, asleep in their handler’s grasp, while the sellers continued their pitch. It was difficult to watch. I have to say I don’t think Pocket Pets, Inc. operates with the best interest of their animals in mind.

I did, however, find potential ethical breeders online last night. One listing stated that the breeder was declining last minute orders for Christmas, to avoid impulse decisions from buyers. That is an excellent sign.

Also online, it appears that Pocket Pets Inc. is countering websites offering warnings to people who might want to own this pet. Apparently they have odor issues, bathroom issues, etc., which the countering site calls “myths.” The language on the countering site is identical to the talking points on the Pocket Pets site and their sales pitch. So please read a variety of sites and meet breeders in person to make your own assessment if you’re considering one of these pets!

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