Saturday, December 18, 2010

Creature Feature: Sugar Glider.




Too many people are still against exotic pets. NOTHING cheeses me off more when an innocent question about how much an unusual pet costs is answered with, "if you want a small carnivore, get a cat or dog." Congrats; you just missed the whole point of wanting an exotic pet.

The poster who wanted to know how much a raccoon was was clearly not looking for a cat or dog. That person was probably seeking something cute, furry, and unique. You know, something like this:

Whatever it is, I didn't do it!

That furry little creature up there is not a flying squirrel. It is Australia's pouched, nectar-drinking, bug -eating version of the flying squirrel, the sugar glider (Pretaurus breviceps).

You may remember this fellow from the momonga entry a while back. These little guys are also called "momonga" in Japan due to their resemblance to a flying squirrel. Anything with a placenta is instantly a freak on Australia; sugar gliders are not squirrels at all. They are a type of possum. Like all possums, they give birth to underdeveloped young that stay in the female's pouch before venturing out into the world.

A certain someone will like this vid JUST for Adam Lambert. 

Like flying squirrels, sugar gliders glide using flaps of skin in between their forepaws. They can glide anywhere from 50-100 meters, adjusting direction using either the patagium itself or its slightly-prehensile tail. It also looks just plain adorable while airborne, so get a cage with space.

Although I have put a few creatures on this blog just because they are adorable, the sugar glider is also legitimately strange. When the conditions grow harsh in Australia, their body temperature drops substantially; they eventually go into a deep rest (up to 23 hours) called torpor. They are also one of the few mammals that has a bifurcated penis. Should you ever need to sex a sugar glider, the male has a convenient bald spot on his head.

Yes, you can have a sugar glider as a pet. Their popularity as pets has led to many a sugar glider being plucked from the wild; as always, get a captive bred baby if at all possible. Do your research and prepare accordingly. Since these creatures are nocturnal, invest in a red light to watch their nightttime activities. There are a number of sugar glider diets on the market to satisfy their odd nutritional requirements. Breeders (being breeders) have taken what little color palette that mammals have to offer and ran with it.

With adorable results. 

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