No, I most certainly did not have another child, much as I wish I could, but we did expand the family by three this weekend!!
I’ve always been fascinated by, and wanted to have, sugar gliders. They are disgustingly cute little animals. I’d seen other people with them, and we briefly touched on them in school during the exotic animals portion of the curriculum (and when I say “briefly”, I mean it–there was only one chapter on gliders), but the purchase price for one was always extremely high, at least as far as what I ran into every time I looked for one, and then on top of that was the cost of purchasing and accessorizing a cage, which itself can be an additional few hundred dollars more. With a dog, you can opt to get only the dog, a collar, a leash, and food and water bowls. It’s far from an ideal scenario, but you could, in theory, do exactly that, not that I ever have. I’ve crate-trained–or attempted to, as Vanir has been particularly resistant to the idea–all of my dogs, and I have spent a fair share of my money on never-used dog beds (mine is apparently better), grooming tools (why, hu-mom, why?), and barely-touched dog toys of all kinds.
You don’t have the option of a bare-minimum approach with small animals, especially if there are other, larger animals in residence. The cage is an absolute necessity, even before the animal you’re going to install in it.
Once upon a time, I had ferrets. Six of them, to be exact: Loki, Timon, Khian, Ralph, Alysheba, and Brandy. I made a three hour drive from Long Island to New Jersey to buy a custom cage from a family who built the cages and themselves were owned by 40 of these little troublemakers. I drove home with the cage strapped to the top of my much-loved 1977 Chevy Malibu. When my mother found out, she pretty much had a belated heart attack, but that’s another story altogether. Suffice it to say, she was not happy.
Some animals are born escape artists. Ferrets are among them. Not all of them, of course, but there are enough within the species that it’s a rote caution when buying one to be warned that this tendency exists. Of my six, only one qualified. Their cage being built by someone who was well experienced with ferret capabilities, I thought I was safe. Khian was dead set on proving me wrong, and did so on many occasions, managing to work himself out of the cage and come find me every night for weeks until I finally figured out how he was doing it and solved the problem. But above all, ferrets are mischievous and playful, and they remain that way into old age.
Sugar gliders remind me of them. And for some reason, they also make me think of the fire lizards in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series of books. I don’t know why, especially as we’re talking mammals here, not lizards, but that’s what they make me think of.
Anyway, a good friend of mine let me know last week about a family of gliders that needed to be rehomed. Their human family is military and got orders to a state where gliders are still illegal. Mom, daughter, and neutered dad would come with everything: cage, toys, food, everything needed to start out with gliders, and the cost would be minimal compared to what I would have paid if I had gone about getting everything one at a time from different sources. Still more than I had available on short notice, but between me and the previous owners, we worked it out, and the trio came to their new home on September 2nd!
I can’t even begin to explain what a ride the last two days have been. Well, the last week, really. I joined every single online glider group I could find. I put books on my Kindle. I nailed my friend with every question I could think of. I started researching diets. I am armed, but far from dangerous…I will probably be asking questions for a good long while!
Being the good little Firefly geek that I am, they have been named Mal, Inara, and Zoe. They are tiny little handfuls of joy and utter chaos. Playtime takes place in the bathroom, because it is the only room that can be completely shut off from the rest of the house and in which, as long as the toilet is closed and the tub or sink is not full, there is nothing which they can use to get into trouble. We bring a few toys in, then we bring in the gliders.
It’s like two people trying to play tennis with three balls all at the same time. Gliders never stop moving, unless they’re asleep. If they’re out to play, and you are supervising multiples, it’s a hilarious comedy. Even with Aneira and I both in the bathroom, and possessing one more hand over the number of gliders, we wind up just keeping an eye out for potential trouble and let them wreak havoc until they’re tired…which takes awhile. We’ve been peed and pooped on, and it hasn’t put us off. I guess that’s to be expected with me, who chose to become a vet tech fully knowing that such things could and would occur, probably daily, but for my fastidious Aneira, I was amazed that she handled it very well, and still loves the gliders!
Bryony still hasn’t really been allowed to do anything with them. Being younger and more hyper, she’s likely to terrify such tiny animals. Right now, we’re letting them settle in, and during the day, I carry them around my neck in their bonding pouch while they sleep. The dogs are endlessly fascinated, but they’ve been ousted from the bedroom unless supervised. Love my dogs, but don’t trust them an inch with tiny animals.
Just watching them jump all over their cage has been so much fun, and makes it so hard to leave them be, but I know they need the time to get used to us. Still, I just keep thinking of the old Looney Toons character–a Yeti?–picking up Bugs Bunny and saying “I will love him and hug him and squeeze him and I will call him George.” That pretty much sums up how in love with these three I am!!