You can keep bees and chickens -- heck, even a horse -- if you have a permit for them in St. Paul.

Skunks, coyotes and raccoons are definitely off-limits. Sugar gliders might soon join them on the no-no list.

Don't count Bill Stephenson, St. Paul's animal control supervisor, among the fans of the little marsupials.

He has asked the City Council to consider banning the animals, and the proposed ordinance will get its first public reading Wednesday.

"I'm gonna catch some heat, I know I am," he said. The issue came about in the past couple of years after people complained to him about dealers trying to sell the animals at conventions.

Sugar gliders, nocturnal natives of Australia, have become popular pets in parts of the United States. Several states, including California and Massachusetts, have banned them.

They can be up to 7 inches long, with a tail almost the same length. They have a membrane connected from wrist to ankle that spreads out when they jump and helps them glide through the air.

They're social omnivores that like sweet things and mark their territory with a special scent. They chatter and bark.

Stephenson acknowledges they're cute but says he's looking out for people, as well as the sugar gliders. He said he's unsure of what danger they could pose to people or the environment. This also isn't the climate for sugar gliders, he said.

"I don't know if it's fear of the unknown, but you know what, I've got enough to do," he said.

For the record, the city's animal control folks haven't snared a sugar glider. As far as Stephenson is concerned, it can stay that way.