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Marsupials as Pets

Martha Stewart Living Television

Marsupials have an extensive family tree that includes more than 250 species, the best known of which is the kangaroo. According to pet expert Marc Morrone, the kangaroo may not be a very good choice for a domesticated pet, but two other members of the family -- the sugar glider and the South American pygmy possum -- have just the right disposition to be adopted into a home.

Sugar gliders resemble flying squirrels, but these native Indonesian animals are actually possum that can glide through the air with the aid of a membrane connecting their wrists and ankles. Because they're exceptionally social animals, you'll need to adopt a pair of them while they're still young; if adopted as adults, their natural inclination will be wariness toward you, an attitude they'll perpetuate for the rest of their lives. Outfit your sugar gliders with a tall wire cage with lots of perches and branches -- as well as a sleeping house -- and feed them a special food called Bourbon's Modified Leadbeaters diet, which can be supplemented by fruits, vegetables, and mealworms. With the proper care, a healthy sugar glider will enjoy a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

South American pygmy possums possess a gentle disposition, which makes them great pets for households with children. They can be housed in a glass aquarium equipped with an exercise wheel. Pygmy possums thrive on a diet of prepared pellets supplemented with fresh fruit, and they're naturally clean and quiet. A well-tended pygmy possum will live for about 8 years.