Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet As Sugar

Why did I dream about sugar gliders last night? I don't know.  But I did.   

I find sugar gliders for sale via small and thin rectangular boxes.  I'm wondering how the customer gets the sugar glider.  Is there one in the box that you somehow have to reanimate?  Do you get a coupon that you send in the mail, and then a sugar glider is shipped to you?  

I read the directions on the box.  There's no sugar glider inside. What you get is some kind of special whistle thing. You use it to call a sugar glider to you. I'm a bit surprised because I thought I had heard earlier that the pet sugar gliders aren't wild, but come from breeders.  But from this box, it seems they're calling forth wild sugar gliders.  

The box talks about how sugar gliders are being fed inappropriate (junk food) diets by Australians.   Americans can rescue them by using the whistle, adopting a sugar glider, and then feeding it healthy food.  I'm pleased to see that the Australian news reports were wrong. Americans aren't taking sugar gliders and feeding them human crap food. They're trying to HELP the Sugar Gliders.

Then I come to my senses. I realize it's all bullshit, and total spin control. The company is using the information as propaganda to sell their whistle things. And they're trying to make Americans feel morally superior by putting the blame on the Australians.  

Perhaps this random dream happened so I could realize the seriousness of the sugar glider issue.   Personally, I don't see the big fuss. But I will take time from my family holiday to blab on about it a bit.

Yes, I think it's bad to get a pet, and feed it an inappropriate diet. But I wonder if the news articles that came out last April were mostly sensationalism. Are most American sugar gliders being fed soft drinks and hot dogs, or is it just a few unlucky ones?  That's something we should probably ask ourselves.

What makes me feel hopeful is there are many websites out there regarding the proper care of sugar gliders. This one gives VERY detailed instructions about feeding your sugar glider. It makes things look pretty complicated (at least to me) and I think it would make people think twice about getting such an exotic pet.

However.....

On the downside, there's always those entities out there who try to convince us that some certain pet is super easy to take care of.  I embarrassingly fell for that trick at a stand in the mall selling hermit crabs.   They made it look like taking care of a hermit crab was barely any more difficult than taking care of a virtual pet. Then we went home, I did a little reading, and realized it's really NOT that cheap and easy.  Lesson learned: Read about the animal BEFORE making the purchase.

What disturbs me in the sugar glider issue is that the North American Sugar Glider Association is one of these groups that try to make things easier than they are.  They have an article entitled Do Sugar Gliders REALLY Make Good Pets?   Cutting Through the 8 Most Common Internet Myths and ; Scams.   I THOUGHT (from the title and official-sounding name of the organization) that it was going to say there are joys in owning a sugar glider, but it's not something that should be taken lightly.   Instead, it takes warnings seen on other websites, and they try to tell site readers that these are all just myths.   And yeah.... there might be some truth to what they say.   But to me, it seems somewhat irresponsible.  They do say that owning a sugar glider isn't for everyone.   I guess I should give them credit for that.   But there's something fishy about this organization.   Or maybe not fishy.   I don't know.   There's just something I don't like.   They're too intent on convincing people that THEIR site should be trusted above all others. Don't read the warnings of others. Just pay attention to what WE say.   And the article makes the organization seem less about making sure that sugar gliders are properly cared for, and more about convincing people that they should want and go get themselves a sugar glider. 

Anyway, I personally think it's probably best (in most cases) to get a stuffed animal toy or a virtual pet.  But sometimes people want real animals.   Is it a good idea?   Is it the right thing for animals?  I don't know. It's probably not ideal. But I really don't see the big fuss about sugar gliders. What's the difference between that and other animals that have been domesticated and imported through out human history?