LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Exotic animals were selling for close to $600 inside one of the largest, most popular malls in our state. The sellers left after four days, leaving families with a pet some veterinarians call far from family-friendly.
Is it as good of a pet as the sellers are making it out to be?
WKYT started researching the marsupial called a sugar glider and the company Pocket Pets, the Florida-based business known for setting up temporary shop and selling them across the country. While the animals are legal to keep in Kentucky, they're not a pet some veterinarians recommend for families.
Trainers were showing off the little marsupials at Fayette Mall for four days. The sugar gliders, also known as sugar bears, are animals native to Australia and Indonesia. Pocket Pet representatives say they make great pets.
"I'm always concerned with bites with sugar gliders," explains Clays Mill Veterinary Clinic's Dr. Craig Blair, "they're kinda skittish little animals, even more so than guinea pigs and gerbils. I think those would be much more ideal pets."
Dr. Blair has treated sugar gliders in the past. He says many come to him looking malnourished, because owners aren't familiar with their diets.
"Their natural diet consists of insects, and spiders, and fruit and things like that. And it's very hard to replicate that in captivity," he notes, "a lot of times people will buy them because they're cute and they're interesting. They'll get them home and get their cage set up, and then they get busy with life and they won't handle them for a month or two months and then they go to handle them and the sugar gliders are scared. They're small animals, they're scared of being handled. You go into their cage and kind of intrude their territory, you're invading their territory, and they'll bite.
We did get in touch with a regional manager for Pocket Pets, he told us they will only sell sugar gliders to adults. He also tells us they keep prices high on purpose - $589 for one - to prevent impulse buys. While buyers do sign a contract he says does not allow for returns, the company, we're told, handles all complaints privately and returning the sugar gliders is at times a possibility.
If you check out the West Florida Better Business Bureau's site, the area where Pocket Pets is located, you'll find 44 complaints filed against them. 40 of those complaints were resolved with BBB assistance.