Posted: August 27, 2014, 1:50 a.m. EDT
Have you ever considered sharing your home with a short-headed rope dancer? Confused? How about a small, omnivorous, arboreal and nocturnal gliding possum that belongs to the marsupial infraclass? Give up? You might know this creature by his common name: sugar glider. The sugar glider’s scientific name — Petaurus breviceps — really does translate to short-headed rope dancer in Latin, and it is in reference to this marsupial’s canopy acrobatics. The sweet part of the common name acknowledges the animal’s preference for sweet, nectarous foods. So there you have it, an acrobatic, sweet-loving marsupial that is also a much-loved exotic companion pet in many states across the United States, although it is illegal to own in some areas, including the states of Alaska, California and Hawaii.
My, What Big Eyes You Have!
To say the sugar glider’s look is a bit different is an understatement. One notable physical trait is large eyes, which help them see at night. This might be the reason behind names like Peepers. And the fact that they are up at night surely inspired monikers such as Night Star, Luna, Luna Marie, Stella Luna and Sleepy Sugar Boy.
Sugar gliders live up to their name, because they do indeed jump and glide. This makes names like Glider, Glidy, Jumping Jack Flash and FoxFlight seem like a natural fit. And, with a sweet reputation, it should come as no surprise that many pet sugar gliders have names reflecting the same. According to the sugar gliders profiled on SmallAnimalChannel.com, Sweetie is at the top of the popular names list, and Sugar is close behind.
Sugar gliders are native to Australia and are also found in Tasmania, so region-inspired names can be especially fitting: Mel (Melbourne), Queenie (Queensland), Canby (Canberra) and Taz (Tasmania). Sugar gliders are similar to kangaroos and other marsupials in that after giving birth, the tiny baby crawls into the mother’s pouch for further development. Going off of that similarity, Roo — short for kangaroo — Joey (young kangaroo) or Jack or Jill (male and female kangaroo) can be fun names that also hint at the sugar glider’s native country.
And with a dark stripe running from the nose to midway down the back, paired with a grayish coat and tan underbelly, these jumping pets resemble a chipmunk at first glance, which gives way to names like Alvin, Simon and Theodore (the chipmunk characters from the Alvin And The Chipmunks movies).
© Isabelle Francais/I-5 Publishing LLC
A female baby sugar glider is a jill and a male baby glider is a jack.
Got More Than One? Go With A Theme!
What do you do if you have to name a lot of sugar gliders? You find a theme, and roll with it. According to Ed Margulies, of Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary, a non-profit exotic animal rescue in Dallas, most of the sugar gliders that come into the rescue already have names; they do, however, have to come up with names of their own on occasion.
"For example, we had an all-female colony we called the Princess colony, and all of them had princess names like Padme and Roxanne and Sasha.”
Margulies said that they also had to come up with names for a seven-member colony of male sugar gliders. "We named them after the seven dwarfs,” he said. "We have a foster pair named Hansel and Gretel. So, in those cases, we chose fairytale or royalty names.”
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