Greatestgrammie, there is a lot of conflicting information on diet. It gets emotional sometimes because people have a tendency to take sides or go with the popularity of certain diets based on completely human foibles, such as site orientation, posse-making and general ignorance. If you have the time to study the facts, and if you have the time to use the tools available to you on this site, a lot of the conjecture and arguing melts away.
For the benefit of you old-timers, I warn you that some of the content of this reply will be a repeat for some of you so pardon that please on behalf of the newcomers...
First, let me say I love those smoothie recipes that Dahlia_2020 has been so kind to publish. You should consider going to the nutrition section here to use the recipe calculator. We encourage people to use this fine resource. It takes the mystery out of doing calculations for recipes because it adds up all the nutrients and you add and change the amounts of the ingredients. Please try it.
Now to the subject at hand, or at least some of the issues brought up in this post that are relevant....
Good Diets for captive gliders can only approximate what they eat in the wild. Too few of us can actually simulate exactly what they eat in the wild.
Bear in mind that gliders only live about 3 years in the wild, most dying from predators (owls, larger marsupials, snakes, kookaburra, etc.) and some from starvation.
So one may argue, since they only live 3 years in the wild and survive over a dozen years in captivity, who cares what they eat in the wild?
Regardless, if you really want to understand what they actually eat in the wild, there are texts and field studies available that provide a lot of detail. All you have to do is buy the books or borrow them. And in some cases, cruise the internet for university white papers and field reports. We have done all of this in our exhaustive, multi-year research on what to feed gliders. That research has helped us to formulate our own recipe for the rescue operation at LGRS (more on that later), and we did use other diets like HPW in the beginning.
Regarding the establishment of diet fact, one of my favorite resources is "Marsupial Nutrition" by Ian D. Hume. (ISBN 0-521-59555-X Cambridge University Press, 1999). These university-promulgated texts are expensive owing to their obscure and limited distribution, but they contain a lot of detail. The details from this book and others have cleared up for us so many of the misconceptions and rumor that plague the internet on sugar glider diet.
Here is an adaptation of a graph from that book. I have made formatting changes to it to show the seasons:
As you can see, what gliders eat is highly influenced by the seasons. For example, in the summertime, depending on area, gliders may subsist almost entirely on Eucalypt flowers. Field studies cited in Humes' book have been conducted where the scat of gliders has been analyzed to determine the metabolic uptake of pollen granules from flowers. According to the book, more than 60% of the pollen grains are metabolized by gliders - ostensibly because of their enlarged caceums (Gliders' enlarged caceums are apparently effective in breaking down pollen grains gleaned from flowers).
It should be noted that pollen, in the summertime, is a chief source of vegetable protein for gliders. As you can see, less then five percent of their fare is from insect proteins during that time of the year. So the whole idea that gliders only have enough protein and energy to reproduce when insects are available is called to question by these data points. Consider how sap and nectars are the mainstay of a glider's diet during autumn and winter, with no more than 22% of their diet consisting of insects. (Based on the way they behave when you offer them insects, I reckon they enjoy pouncing on insects and eating them more than scraping bark and licking sap).
That brings me to the point about honey and how it approximates saps and nectars in the wild. Eucalypt and Acacia saps are very high in glucose and sucrose and other complex carbs. So is honey. But make no mistake about it, the moniker "sugar" in "sugar glider" derives from their sweet tooth which is satisfied largely by sugar-rich saps, gums, exudates and nectar. To bring it closer to home, consider the sweetness of maple syrup. Pretty sweet and sugary, huh? Well, it's the same as the sap from Acacia and Eucalypts. The bottom line: Saps contain both protein and carbs that gliders need to survive. Honey VERY CLOSELY approximates this native fare.
It is no wonder then, that glider food preparations as old as the 50-year-old Leadbetter's Mix (first formulated by the hermit-like and unfortunately misogynistic amateur naturalist Des Hackett), BML, HPW, etc., etc. contain honey. Of course they contain honey. It's much easier to get honey and feed it than it is to get pure Acacia and Eucalypt sap. So we feed them honey. It's a natural food and it is safe (filtered, never raw or comb).
Now, if your gliders are getting fat on a diet that uses honey, it's pretty easy to cut back on it. But that may not be the best way to keep their weight in check - just like cutting back on food in humans is NOT the sole way to keep OUR weight in check. That is to say that you must let your gliders run and jump and glide and play outside of their cage as much as possible. It is our general observation, out of about 100 gliders from about 30 colonies large and small, that the ones that run around a lot outside of the cage are not fat. The ones that languish in their cage without a lot of out-of-cage play or wheel time have a tendency to get fat. It's pretty simple really - just as it is with us humans.
In the spirit of full disclosure, allow me to admit that at Lucky Glider Rescue & Sanctuary, our suggie soup recipe does in fact have honey in it. You can find the recipe here: http://files.meetup.com/768852/LGRS_SuggieSoup.pdf
The nutritional breakdown of the recipe is here in the nutrition section of GG: http://www.sugarglider.com/nutrition/viewrecipe.asp?item=36
We encourage you to ask for and look closely at the nutritional breakdown of any diet you are considering. Having a nutritional breakdown gives you the ability to see for yourself what the ratios are and how much actual protein, carbs, etc. your pets will be getting.
Take that nutritional analysis to your vet if you are not familiar with how it works.
If the purveyor of a certain diet does not offer a nutritional breakdown, then you really have no idea what you are feeding, do you? If you really want to use a diet from a person or organization that has not taken the time to offer a nutritional breakdown, you could poke the values in yourself here in the nutrition section using the recipe calculator.
But then it's only natural to ask yourself: "Why would someone or some organization who professes to have a good diet not publish a nutritional breakdown?"
We can think of only two reasons: 1) Laziness (which of course calls to question the veracity of the research done to come up with the diet in the first place); or 2) Arrogance (institutional or otherwise). Please consider these simple facts before deciding on a "popular" diet. Please also consider the motivation of the purveyor of the diet. Unfortunately, you will find a lot of commercial motivation and clique/clubbish motivations. Ask a lot of questions.
P.S. This so-called "Glider Grub" Rita mentions in this thread is none other than Mazuri (now Purina) New World Primate #5MA5. You can buy a 25 lb. bag for $49.97.
Or, if you like being ripped off, you can buy a lousy 5 lbs. for $34.95 at Custom Cage Works.
Sadly, Custom Cage Works says on their site: "Glider Grub is designed to be an essential part of your glider's total feeding system. This high protein dry food is designed to take the place of live food and cooked meat supplying the gliders protein needs."
What crap! First of all, "Glider Grub" was NOT formulated for gliders. It was formulated by Purina to feed monkeys a simple cage staple. It was NOT designed as a total diet for gliders. Liars!!!@!!
That is of course, if you believe feeding pellets as a diet is the right thing to do. It isn't. At LGRS we call the "apples and pellets" diet foisted by trade show and flea market hucksters the "glider death diet." Too many gliders come in to our rescue half-dead from eating this crap. Just say "no" to pellets.