Chad DeFrain of Springfield said he was a little surprised when he went to the Illinois State Fair and saw a vendor selling small marsupials called sugar gliders.
The 5- to 7-inch-long, furry animals with big black eyes enthralled his daughters, but DeFrain wondered if the state fair was the best place to buy a new pet. The vendor was offering a sugar glider, a cage and a starter kit for about $590.
“I’ve never seen them peddling animals there. It struck a funny chord. Maybe this is not the best idea for the fair,” DeFrain said.
Fair officials said they haven’t received any complaints about the vendor, which goes by the name Pocket Pets. A breeder in Chicago and a Springfield veterinarian, however, expressed concern that people might be overwhelmed by the animals’ cuteness and make an impulse buy they might later regret.
Sugar gliders are arboreal and are native to Australia and Indonesia. They are a marsupial, which means they have a pouch like a possum or kangaroo. They are not rodents.
According to the Pocket Pets website, they’re called sugar gliders because they like to eat almost anything that is sweet, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, and they have a gliding membrane (similar to a flying squirrel) that stretches from their wrist to their ankles, allowing them to glide – not fly – from tree to tree
In the wild, they primarily live in trees in “colonies” of 10 to 15 other sugar gliders.