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Petaurus Playtime

Sweet little Maverick

Sweet little Maverick

Petaurus breviceps means “short-headed rope dancer”, which means sugar glider. And playtime has taken a new turn. Many people in the glider community recommend small camping tents as a safe place for gliders to play with their humans, zipped inside. So I ordered one a while back, apparently from China or some such, given the time it took to get here. If it came from China, it made good time. If it came from the States, not so much. But I wanted an inexpensive, small tent, and that’s what I got. $19 for what is supposed to be a two-person pop-up tent.

I had to laugh when I got it today. First off, my understanding of “pop-up” was something like those fabric windshield shades for vehicles, where they come in this round bag, you take them out and they pop into two rectangular pieces of fabric that you place in your windshield. When you’re done, you put them together and grab the two corners diagonally across from each other, twist them in some way I never got the hang of, and they become round things again that fit back in their round bag. That was what I expected: take tent out of bag, already assembled, and it pops up into an instantly usable tent. Apparently I was wrong in my expectations, because what I received is the tent and two disassembled poles that slide into tunnels on the tent and bend, creating a dome tent. I was under the impression that dome tents and pop-up tents were two different things. Whatever the case, it does fit into the section of the bedroom that houses the cages. Tightly, but it fits. And I’m sure you’re supposed to disassemble it again to put it away after each use, but that, I could see, would rapidly get very old. So what I do is squeeze the two poles together flat, and wedge the whole thing between the cages and the wall, so I just have to pull it out and go in.

The other thing that made me laugh is that you can only call this thing a two-person tent if the two people in question aren’t above the age of eight. There is absolutely no way anyone taller than 4’6″ can comfortably lie down to sleep in it unless they’re in the fetal position, and then there’s only room for one person, unless the second is sleeping literally on top of the first. But for glider playtime, the tent is perfect. And really, for $19, well, I got what I paid for. Fortunately, I didn’t buy it for camping. We have a tent for that, which we haven’t yet used in seven years. It’s a huge, two room monstrosity, either 10′ x 12′, or 10′ x 18′. Massive.

Anyway. Until the tent arrived, we’d been using the bathroom for playtime, and thought we’d pretty much glider proofed the room. The one area we really had to worry about was the vanity. A few years back, when we started renovating the bathroom, the PIP decided to be creative with the new vanity. He bought an antique stereo system, the kind that came housed in its own cabinet, and repurposed the cabinet as a bathroom vanity. He did a fantastic job on it, but it doesn’t sit directly on the floor. It has legs that are about 2″ long, so there’s a space under it that is perfect for gliders who are scared, but not so perfect for the human trying to get them out of said space. We thought to roll up a towel very tightly and wedge it into the openings to keep the gliders out, and it worked…until little Canth figured it out within two minutes of entering the bathroom for the first time since arriving in our house. Half an hour later, playtime in the bathroom ended until last night, which was the first time we ventured into the bathroom in a week. And thankfully, the tent arrived today.

The glider play tent

The glider play tent

I can’t say that the first tent playtime session was a rousing success. It wasn’t horrible, and wasn’t fantastic either. The Dragons went first because they’re the hardest to deal with, not having been handled for so long. They are one short step up from feral, and it’s going to be a good, long while before we manage to gain their trust. I’ve finally got them taking treats from my hands, and tonight was the first time little Ruth climbed up on me, which is a step in the right direction, but they weren’t sure what to think about this new structure. Mnementh was the only one who wasn’t actually stressed out.

After the Dragons went back to their cage, it was Maverick’s turn. Of all of them, he’s the one who has been handled so much by his previous owner that he’s pretty much unfazed by any human being in his orbit. He’s got the sweetest personality of the seven, and he doesn’t so much bite as nibble on you. It doesn’t even hurt.

Well, as unfazed as he is by people, he was not so calm about the tent. Holy cow. I’ve never seen him move so fast. He had a complete panicky meltdown. The second I sat down in the tent, he swarmed up my arm to my shoulder so fast that I couldn’t track him with my eyes, poor little guy. It took him about fifteen minutes to calm down, but even then, if I brushed against the tent in any way, he freaked and was right back up on my shoulder.

So not a resounding success, but not an epic fail, either. I think they’ll all eventually get used to the tent as time goes on, and I’m much more comfortable with not having to take them out of the room to play, and with the overall safety of the tent. Not bad for less than twenty dollars!

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