Wednesday 7 September 2022

Beware the Marsupial Screams


a Sugar Glider doing its thang

I hadn't seen my good friend Damian for ages due to Covid, and when I received a dinner party invitation at Bardmony House, I asked if I could bring him along. The hosts Britt and Chris were fine with this, and now we were a party of two hosts and two guests which is a good mix for conviviality.

We had an amazing evening. One indicator is that we only managed to drag ourselves away at 1AM. :-) I then drove Damian back to his house in Dundee,  and it had been pre-arranged that I would sleep on his sofa rather than drive all the way back to the castle.

During the dinner party, we got to taking pets, and Damian said he didn't have any. I begged to differ and pointed out that he had 4 Sugar Gliders. These are small uber-cute, flying marsupials. Strictly speaking they glide rather than fly using their patagia, or gliding membranes, which extend from foreleg to hindleg.

"Oh yes." said Damian, "There is something I should tell you. The Sugar Gliders are temporarily in a large mesh cage in the living room, instead of their usual glass vivarium, which means that, er, there may be a bit of a smell while sleeping on the sofa.". Sure enough, as I headed to bed there was a bit of a smell, but it quickly disappeared as I got used to it and the odour was not going to disturb my night's sleep.

However, I had an incredibly disturbed night and I "thought" I could hear the Sugar Gliders squeaking at high volume at intervals. As I came to in the morning, I reached the conclusion that the squeaking was in my head, because this is not the sound Sugar Gliders make and somehow my imagination had conjured up the squeaking because my brain knew I was sleeping beside four cute marsupials. Sugar Gliders make a sort of quiet electronic chirrup called "crabbing" when they don't want to be handled, which I was familiar with.

Anyhow, Damian told me that his wife had reported that all four of the Sugar Gliders were squeaking loudly all night, and that she sent her apologies. This had never happened before. Occasionally, a single Sugar Glider would scream/squeak (which is their alarm signal). This would cause the remaining three Sugar Gliders to freeze and face in the direction of the alarm call.

Anyhow, Sugar Gliders are nocturnal. Imagine waking up and finding that a strange man was sleeping next to you - it would make me scream too! :-) I am a very deep sleeper, so I suspect I did not fully wake-up, but moved to that in-between realm, where thoughts and dreams mingle indistinguishably