Today, BuzzFeed posted a Vine--a short, looped video made with the app of the same name--of a pet sugar glider clutching a cracker of some sort, gazing up at the camera with its giant, onyx eyes, and being scratched affectionately by its owner. The video is hashtagged #cute and #sugargliderdontcare. But we care, because it is irresponsible to either own or promote the owning of sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders are Australian possums, small marsupials that are not closely related to our own North American Virginia opossum. The "glider" name comes from the web of skin that stretches between the sugar glider's limbs, allowing the sugar glider to escape from predators by gliding through the air like a paper airplane to get from tree to tree. Sugar gliders are popular exotic pets in the U.S., though keeping captive sugar gliders has been banned in most of Australia. They're typically bred in captivity for the pet trade, as the wild population is closely monitored, by breeders like this one. That breeder boasts of its USDA badge of approval, but it's unethical to own a pet sugar glider, no matter where it's from. Here's why.
Sugar gliders are not domesticated. Domestication is a genetic process that happens over generations upon generations; you can read more about that here. But sugar gliders are simply cute furry small animals that happen to not be particularly violent to humans. That doesn't mean they're affectionate, and it doesn't mean they like the attention of humans, the way cats and dogs do.