The newest addition to our family is Molly, a sugar glider. Before you shriek, "Ew! Rat!" (kind of like my husband did, only he used more expletives), sugar gliders are not rodents... they are marsupials, more closely related to opossums and kangaroos than mice or hamsters. And yes, Molly is female, so she has a pouch.
I first discovered sugar gliders about three years ago when I went to the Pensacola fair. A man was there, selling hand-tamed baby sugar gliders, and I just fell in love. But sugar gliders require about 3 hours of attention each day, and with work, school, family and life in general, I knew I did not have time to devote to the little creature. So I shelved the dream for a later date. And, apparently, now is that later date. I say "apparently" because I had no intention of getting a sugar glider quite yet. The spouse still has not returned from his "deployment" to California (he gets back Sunday, yay!) and he is very anti-pet right now. Don't get me wrong, he enjoys animals. But he wants our lives to be "simple" so that we can travel. I can understand this, but I'm not used to not having a furry friend. And the benefit of a furry friend this size is that is can easily travel with you. But I digress...
I had been telling a friend of mine here in Iwakuni that I was thinking about asking for a sugar glider for my birthday (in November), but that I wasn't sure where a reputable place to get one would be here in Japan. She told me that one of the school secretaries, Tanya, had a sugar glider and I should talk with her about it. So I did. When I picked the kids up from school on Monday, I headed in to the office to see if Tanya had a moment to talk - she did, and after explaining that I was interested in getting a sugar glider and wanted to find out where she had gotten hers and how she liked owning one, she told me that she was looking for a home for her sugar glider, Molly. Tanya's son was now a teenager and she was going back to school at night, so they did not have the time to devote to Molly like they had in the past. But she did not want to give her up to just anyone. They wanted to make sure she would be well taken care of. I assured her that my family is infamous for its care of pets and they generally live longer than their life expectancy. Tanya actually lives in my mid-rise, too, so she invited me to stop by later that evening to meet Molly. And to meet Molly is to fall in love with Molly.
So, after talking with Tanya for about an hour, we reached an agreement: Molly (who is about 4 or 5 years old - they can live 10-15 years) is on loan with an option to keep. We are "borrowing" her for two weeks to make sure she fits in to our family (i.e., the spouse doesn't go ballistic) and we can absolutely give her back. Otherwise, we'll adopt her, for free. This is significant because a glider costs more than $300 here in Japan, not including the cage, food, toys, etc. It seems like it was meant to be.
I surprised the boys by bringing Molly home. They had no idea, since everything happened so fast. But they were thrilled and couldn't wait to tell their classmates the next day - many of which did not know what a sugar glider was. I guess show-and-tell is in Molly's future.
It's going to take Molly about a month to "bond" with the family. But she is incredibly well-mannered. She does not bite, "crab" (sugar glider-ese for growling) or anything like that. She just tries to hide, although she has show marked improvement in that area in the past few days since we got her.
And for my crafty friends, here is a photo of the small "bonding pouch" I made on Tuesday for Molly. The more I wear her, the more she gets used to me and my scent and the faster we will bond - in theory. I will let you know in about 25 more days...
Please note: While Molly is adorable, sugar gliders are not appropriate pets for everyone. Please make sure you do your research ahead of time!