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Pets get second look from police

Managing editor

It’s one of those incidents in life that may be embarrassing at the time but is funny later.

Linda Sardou told diners at Marion Senior Center on July 13 about her exotic pets — two sugar gliders, Choco and Sam.

These unusual marsupials require 24-hour a day, seven-day a week care.

Recently, Sardou traveled to a neighboring city to shop at a large variety store. She tried on some shirts and decided she did not want to purchase them. As she was heading to the exit, a security guard stopped her and said he thought she was shoplifting, indicating there was something under her shirt.

A female officer took her to a private room in the store and asked Sardou to remove her shirt.

“About that time, Sam and Choco’s heads popped out,” Sardou said.

The reason Sardou was scrutinized is that the two small, exotic animals like to travel in Sardou’s bra.

“The officers laughed and I received an apology,” Sardou said.

That’s not the only time she’s received some strange looks but it’s all worth it to her.

The strange and enduring animals have been a part of Sardou’s family for seven years. The nocturnal pair has their own room in the house filled with toys and treats only sugar gliders could appreciate.

“Only 1 in 1,000 might be tamable,” Sardou said.

In the wild of Indonesia and Australia, the animals only live about five years; in captivity, they could live to be 12.

One of the reasons for their short lifespan in the wild is they are perfect prey.

If they are injured by accident or by a predator, they will chew themselves — going so far as to chew off a limb or their tail. For that reason, they cannot be left alone.

There have been some close calls in the time Sardou has cared for the animals.

She recalled a day when she was outdoors for a while. When she returned inside the house, Choco was barking, which they don’t do unless there is something wrong. Sam had caught a toenail on the cage and was bleeding.

“By the time I got there, he had started to chew his foot,” Sardou said. “They’ll take care of each other like that.”

The interesting-looking gliders have a membrane that serves as a cape, similar to a bat’s wing, which allows them to fly short distances.

The marsupials are attractive to families and children because they are small, soft, and presumable cuddly. However, Sardou warns that the animals are not suited for children because they are sensitive.

“Children tend to be rough with animals and they cannot handle that,” she said.

Sardou said there are more than 5,000 gliders looking for homes because people have bought them only to find they could not care for them.

These two gliders are well cared for and have bonded with Sardou, rarely leaving her side during the day and sometimes gathering second looks.

Last modified July 20, 2011

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