Sugar Glider Diet
Sugar gliders are nocturnal and should be fed once a day in the evening. You will learn your sugar glider’s schedules after a few weeks as to when they wake up for the night. Food should be placed in their enclosure before they get up for the evening. Water should be available at all times. It is good practice to pick up any uneaten food in the morning to prevent the gliders from eating anything spoiled. It is a necessity to have multiple feeding and watering stations at different elevations in the cage which helps prevent against food aggression. The food dishes should be shallow for easy access. A bird silo style waterer should be used instead of a bowl. Gliders prefer to lap their water and their droppings cannot fall into a silo waterer, contaminating it. How much food to be offered depends on the size of appetite of the glider. Sugar gliders have fast metabolism so a small bowl full of food may look daunting and wasteful but they should go through most of it and some should be left over to ensure your glider got their fill and didn’t go hungry. Over time, this can be adjusted to not waste so much. We recommend that 1 ½-2 tablespoons per glider is sufficient but this could change depending on your specific glider.
A sugar glider’s diet out in the wild is impractical to replicate in captivity because it is so diverse but we can get close offering a variety of foods available online or at your local super market. Sugar Gliders are omnivorous but mainly insectivores so we recommend a rotation of diets/food/insects. Sugar gliders can become bored with their food and/or pick their favorite things out to eat and leave the rest. It is best to limit sweet and fatty foods and offer more healthy options to prevent your glider from becoming picky. There are a few different diet options for sugar gliders. There are commercial diets, buffet style and homemade diets. Commercial diets are found over the counter at pet food stores. We recommend only a few commercial diets that were developed with veterinary guidance. These are complete and balanced and theoretically the sugar glider could live its whole life solely on this diet. A buffet style is a bunch of different food from different categories offered; a lean protein source, veggies and a fruit. Homemade diet is a bunch of different ingredients blended together to make a pancake batter type consistency of food to replicate the nectar a glider would eat out in the wild. Examples below…
Trusted Commercial Diets:
Exotic Nutrition and The Pet Glider’s. Follow feeding recommendations on the packaging or websites. Mazuri insectivore diet is a good diet for a protein source but should be served with other fruits and veggies for other nutrients/minerals not included in the diet. Many sugar glider enthusiasts do not recommend pellets as sugar gliders do not eat pellets in the wild. However, we believe pellets are a great way to give your glider easy complete and balanced nutrition. In the wild, sugar gliders are chewing on trees and eating many insects that scrape the tartar off of their teeth. A buildup of tartar leads to tooth decay and tooth root abscesses. These conditions are painful and can be expensive to treat. We recommend keeping a bowl of the pelleted diet available to your glider at all times.
This diet entails using a rotation of fresh or frozen foods; organic is preferred but isn’t needed if you wash your fresh produce. When using frozen food, check the ingredients to make sure it’s just the product inside and no additives. Never use canned food. A calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1 is important as phosphorus inhibits the body’s absorption of calcium.
When choosing a nights meal it is important to look at the calcium and phosphorus of each ingredient to balance the ratio. You can purchase calcium and multivitamin supplements at the Pet Glider or the Exotic Nutrition website to add to the buffet style diet when in doubt. Example of a night’s meal: Boiled egg, boiled or baked chicken (No seasonings), frozen or fresh sweet potato, green beans, red bell pepper, blue berries or mango.
Appropriate ingredients for a Buffet Style meal:
There are many more, this is just a select few...
There are a few different recipes that have been successfully fed for many years. Leadbetters, the Pet Glider (TPG) and the Original High Protein Wombaroo(OPHW). The OHPW is just a protein source and needs to be supplemented with fresh fruits and veggies. In general, these diets are usually made in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The recipes are available with a simple google search.
Foods to Avoid:
Chocolate, candy, garlic, onion, corn, beans/legumes, Rhubarb, dairy products, foods high in oxalates (dark green vegetables, such as spinach, beets).
Dubia roaches, mealworms, super worms (feed with caution-they have large teeth and can bite your sugar glider) and wax worms.
Insects to Avoid:
Crickets, Freeze dried and dehydrated bugs-these are good for treats but are lacking nutrients from the cooking processes.
Extra Helpful Information:
Sugar gliders get bored easily with their food and it is recommended to rotate between these diets to prevent food aversions among your gliders. This also ensures that they get many different food sources, nutrients and minerals that will complement their diverse needs. They will thank you for it! If you are trying a new diet for your glider, and they are refusing to eat it, withhold all other foods for at least 5 days. Your sugar gliders will not starve themselves; this forces them to try the new diet.
Common illness related to improper diet:
Obesity- Caused by a diet too high in fruits/sugars/carbs and fats usually combined with improper exercise levels.
Hypocalcemia- Caused by a diet with little calcium or a diet that is improperly balanced. Foods high in oxalates can inhibit the absorption of calcium. Please be sure to avoid these.
Symptoms- wobbliness, weakness in grip strength (cannot climb normally), a dull patchy coat, lethargy. In extreme cases, hind limb paresis is noticed.
Dental disease: Tooth root abscess form when their diet is made up of mostly soft things and plaque builds up on teeth
Symptoms: Not eating, swelling on sides of the face under the eye, lethargy
Prevention: The chewing of the pellets and insects act like a tooth brush scrapping the tartar and plaque that have built up on their teeth.
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