“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language ” ~ Martin Buber
With 2 boys at home, we have had all kinds of pets. (I am sure they will not agree with me on this!) As far as I remember, the first pet we had was a male Beta fish. Good looking and easy to take care of, it was a great pet to start with! If it ever died on us, we would go and replace it with another identical fish and of course, Ozy wouldn’t even find out! This went out for several years.
As Ozy and Zain grew older, they found out from friends the various possibilities. We then lived in Wichita, Kansas. On one of our trips to the local mall, what caught their eye was a fresh kiosk selling ‘Hermit Crabs’. We did our best to avoid the hassle of another pet and finally gave in. Unlike, the fishes, the hermit crab was pretty sturdy and we had him for a long time.
There was a long gap, after we moved to Michigan, that we didn’t have a pet. It made life much easier for us. Especially, when we travelled to distant places. There were several talks of getting another pet. Tanvir at several instances, spoke on behalf of the kids and I would cleverly dismiss the idea before it could surface.
Ozy’s 12 th Birthday was soon approaching.The tradition in our household for Birthdays has been pretty straight forward ~ to buy something fancy, yet reasonable that the kids had been desiring for a while! Except this year Ozy did not budge. He insisted that he wants a pet that can held! We gave in yet again and ended up getting him the cutest little Bunny.
It was light grey in color and extremely adorable I was so happy to see Ozy’s reaction upon seeing his Birthday gift. Ozy and Zain, named their bunny ‘Ace’. I thought the name was pretty apt for him. He sure was very brisk. The kids enjoyed him a lot. Unfortunately, we soon had to find a different home for Ace as Zain developed severe bronchitis. He had several attacks, when we had to take him to the Emergency.
The kids finally realized that it was impossible to convince mom or dad, for that matter to get a dog or a cat. They researched intensively over the net . They would come up with the most obnoxious ideas……a pet snake, a lizard etc… It went on for sometime. One night, I overheard the kids talking to Tanvir, convincing him over something. And then the usual, ” I am okay with it….but,who is going to convince mom over this one?” I freaked out thinking that Tanvir probably set a green flag over having a pet snake! Much to my relief, Ozy mentioned that it’s a ‘sugar glider’ that they are talking about. I had never heard about such a thing before. The kids got us settled down and we were shown a video about them on You Tube. “Not bad”, I thought!
Before I could think much, the search for one began. Ozy’s ultimate goal in life was to find a local breeder who would have one. After much research we found a few people who had a sugar glider for sale. I very reluctantly went to see it. I initially didn’t tell the boys, but I thought it was a very cute little thing.
So, what are sugar gliders anyway? There are marsupials, mostly found in Australia. (That’s why they are not easily available in most pet stores here in the United States.) Its name refers to its preference to sugary nectarous foods and its ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel. They are nocturnal, which means they stay active mostly at night.
We finally got Gizmo, our sugar glider home. The previous owners, were kind enough to make a list of do’s and don’ts for the kids to take care of the little fellow! I was amazed to see how caring and protective Ozy was about his pet. The first thing that we were asked to do,was to put a used piece of clothing of the kids that Gizmo would get used to. Sugar gliders have a great sense of smell and they bond very well after getting familiar to your smell.
Sugar gliders make excellent pocket pets. Because he is a marsupial, Gizmo likes to be held in a pouch, where he curls into a ball (just like a like a kangaroo’s baby in his mom’s pouch!). Known for their sociable behavior, sugar gliders love to be held. They are easy to carry around because of their size and weight. Gizmo is around 5 inches long and weighs about 6 ounces!
Although he is small in size, Gizmo lives in a large, spacious and comfortable cage. His cage is accessorized very well. The size of the cage allows him to jump, hover around and glide. We have also put a ‘wodent wheel’ in his cage, which has a thin sheet of sand paper that trims his nails without hurting him. It is indeed funny to see him running in it. It looks like a person running on his treadmill!
Ozy always makes sure that Gizmo gets the right amount of nutrition. For his sweet tooth, Gizmo gets a slice of apple and papaya treats (bought from Petco). He nibbles on pellets, (we give him the ‘chicken-breeder formula’) which is loaded with protein and are also fruity flavored.
It is a pleasure to watch gizmo eat and drink. Just like us humans, Gizmo has little fingers and toes and also a thumb. It is incredibly cute to watch him grab his food with them.
Gizmo, at night does make a few noises. We did some research over the internet to understand what his needs are which causes him to do so. Apparently, he makes a softer barking sound, (very similar to a chihuahua) to grab attention when he is lonely. Upon getting the attention that he needs, he normally settles down. He also makes a crabbing noise, very similar to that of a locust. This mostly happens when he is disturbed in his sleep or if for any reason he is distressed.
Occasionally, Gizmo is let free from his cage into Ozy’s room. He explores around the room. He glides through Ozy’s arms and legs and finally slides into his hoodie or his pockets. Being a social animal, he doesn’t like to be left in a different room at night. He barks and makes sure he gets his way around it. We take extra care of that because the leading cause of deaths in sugar gliders is depression. They get very depressed if left alone. Infact, I remember once, when Ozy was down with a flu, he had left Gizmo’s cage out in the hall for two nights. Out of depression, Gizmo didn’t eat for those two days. I call him quite a ‘drama queen’!
Gizmo is now only 2 years old. With a life expectancy of nearly 7-15 years, we look forward to his companionship for a long time. I should probably add that I am extremely impressed with my boys. As promised, they take very good care of Gizmo. We have really enjoyed having him. Gizmo sure is a great companion and fun to watch and play with!