Sorry for springing this kind of thermonuclear cuteness on you with no warning. Although, frankly, nothing could prepare one for the Cute Overload of an anime-eyed sugar glider.
You can actually see these guys in person at the American Museum of Natural History's new show, Extreme Mammals, the only live exhibit among a crowd of wacky warm-blooded critters (biggest, smallest, zaniest, most unlikely appendages, etc.) Humans are extreme mammals, too, according to the curators--not because we perform absurd stunts for the Guinness Book of World Records, or get strange body piercings, or become Scientologists, but because we have large brains, sparse hair, and walk upright on two legs without hopping, as kangaroos do. (Well, okay, I've known small-brained, hirsute humans who hopped, but that was back at NYU in the Seventies.)
Want more glider? We got you covered. This little dude is much more appealing than our resident extreme CrazyStable mammal, Bagel the Squirrel, although like Bagel, he makes a metallic "crabbing" sound when irritated. Spouse reports that the museum's gliders, behind the scenes, are gregarious, clever, mischievous, and keen for the opposite sex.
My one encounter with gliders, in a scruffy Nassau County pet store that specialized in "exotics," was less sanguine. I was toying with the idea of buying some for Daughter and smuggling them back to Brooklyn (where extreme mammals are illegal unless they've got a band in Williamsburg). A slackerish cage-cleaner reached in for one, explaining, "I call 'em da Creachuhs from Hell, but dis one don't usually bite--OW!" This was followed by the death-ray chorus of four angry gliders crabbing in unison. Frankly, I couldn't blame them. (After that, we auditioned a hedgehog, which snapped into a psychotic ball when the same hireling lifted it out of its cage with a putty knife and an oven mitt. At this point, BestFriend, collapsing in mirth, pointed out that white mice were pretty darn cute and cost only a few bucks apiece--although, as I explained, We Already Had Those.)
For more--trust me, way more--than you ever wanted to know about sugar gliders, check out SugarGlider.com and their "Gliderpedia." Best are the site's home videos and message boards. Most posts are of the "my adorable sugee-babies simply love their new snackie-poos!" variety (along with tributes to sugee-babies that crossed the "rainbow bridge"), but one is basically a tough guy stuck with his ex-girlfriend's two gliders saying reluctantly to the tiny terrors, "I love you, man." The bachelor reports, "They chill with me when I'm up too late (like now) and usually beg for noodles or yogurt." Aww! Date movie script alert!
He didn't go all soft, though; he named them Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis.
All photos except Hugh mashup: American Museum of Natural History