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| p.1 #1 · Ever seen a sugar glider?! What about one gliding?! |
Let me introduce to you a pair of juvenile male sugar gliders I picked up from a small-time breeder in SC. For those of you who don't know what they are (I didn't know about them until I went to Petco and saw one's picture on the side of a cage they were selling), they are small, chipmunk-sized marsupials (NOT rodents) that evolved in the NW corners of Australia and now populate New Guinea and various Indonesian islands.
Sugar gliders are quite a bit more advanced than rodents in the sense that they are very social animals in the wild, living in the canopies of tropical forests in groups of dozens. This proclivity toward intimate and social relationships allows them to develop strong"bonds" with their human caretaker. After that, they're perfectly content riding around on your shoulder or in your shirt pocket (they sleep like rocks during the day). And while they do jump off to explore from time to time, they don't do so to run away, like gerbils, because they eventually always come back! When you open the cage, they come right toward you to climb up and say hi, and they always stay still to allow me to pat them. They also live much longer than rodents--about 12 years in captivity.
Anyway, these little guys are a riot to watch when they're playing because they're EXTREMELY acrobatic, athletic, quick, and agile, way more so than any rodent I've ever seen. They have opposable thumbs on their hands and feet and rather sharp claws, which allow them to easily climb and hang upside down. Their long tail is semi-prehensile and is used for balance and as a rudder when gliding. .
They have huge eyes that are binocular (they need to be for good depth perception when gliding), but they are so large and protrude from their heads enough that they have excellent peripheral vision to detect predators like birds of prey--they even blink only one eye at a time so one is always open! They also have big, bat-like ears that also move independently of one another and allow them to pick up on the noise of insects and other prey.
So naturally, I've taken quite a few pics of them that I'd like to share, because I just find them so endearing! All of the pictures of sugar gliders (in captivity) online are pretty bad, actually, so hopefully this post will allow some people to see sugar gliders the way they're meant to be, that is, not with direct flash on a point and shoot camera!
This picture shows the sequence the sugar gliders take to jump/glide (these are not consecutive); to take it, I put the cam on ground w/a tripod and pointed it up, had a 580EXII flash that I was bouncing off the ceiling, and a remote shutter.
This is Moose. I chose the name for irony's sake, and because a little guy like this needs a masculine name!
This is Bear, posing for the camera
Bear, hanging out in his coconut frog that I got for them in St. Maarten