Walk into Lynn Martel’s house and you will likely be greeted by a 9-year-old rottweiler named Meg, but those are not her only pets.
Martel of Mount Pleasant is also an owner of six cats and a bearded dragon, though the pets she is most proud of are her 16 sugar gliders, which she breeds and sells from her 7540 E. Broadway St. home. Sugar gliders, small marsupials native to Australia, she said, are some of the best pets she has ever owned.
“They are great pets,” she said. “They take work and dedication, but it is really rewarding.”
Martel said she began breeding the animals about five years ago after seeing some at a convention. Since then she has become the leading breeder in mid-Michigan and founder of the Mid Michigan Glider Group.
The reason raising gliders takes dedication, she said, is because the animals are nocturnal, have a relatively specific diet and, like many other pets, require attention from their owners.
She said she did not purchase any gliders until she did the research on what it takes to own one.
One of her biggest motivations as a breeder is to educate potential owners.
“(Martel) was so supportive and helpful,” said Tonna Kleinhans, a Lansing resident.
Klienhans recently purchased two gliders from Martel named Gypsy and Hendrix, and will be picking them up this week.
“I’m very excited to pick them up,” Kleinhans said. “They are the perfect pet for me. I have a small apartment and I’m didn’t want a cat, and they’re so personal.”
Finding the right owner for her gliders is one of her biggest priorities as a breeder, Martel said. She will not sell a glider, which can range in price from $150 to more than $1,000 depending on the type, to an owner she doesn’t feel will give the glider ample attention and care.
She said she evaluates potential owners to make sure they are the right fit for the animals.
“I won’t just sell to anyone,” Martel said. “They have to be the right match. The animals need attention, they can be drama queens and need that care and attention.”
She said gliders can live for 10 to 12 years, which is one reason why owning one is such a commitment.
Ortonville resident Danielle Bauman bought a glider named Flash from Martel in January and said she is in the process of buying another.
“(Flash is) really sweet and we really like him,” she said.
Bauman said Martel gave her toys, a bonding pouch and other items to help her start her ownership.
Martel said it is important that gliders be taken care of by the best people possible.
“They aren’t throwaway disposable pets,” Martel said.