Food


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SugarGliders eat a varied diet in the wild and feed through out their own teritory. In Australia although common along the eastern coast they are rarely seen. Their natural diet consists of insects, native fruit, flowers, and sap.

Gliders are "sap suckers" by nature and cannot be sustained by dry foods and off-the-shelf food pellets that are designed for other small animals such as hamsters. Sap suckers chew their food to extract the liquids and then most often spit out the remains. A simple way to look at it is that they need squishy, wet, naturally sweet, and quickly perishable foods.

Diets will often include protein from meat, vegetables, fruit, other foraging foods, and the occasional nut for a treat. Their nightly diet should consist of around 50% protein, 25% fruit and 25% veggies. They are essentially lactose intolerant, but still need calcium. A lot of owners will add calcium to their food. I have never done that and have managed to keep healthy gliders by feeding a healthy diet. To that end, a diet should be low in salt, anything with added preservatives or chemicals, and fat. It is wise to use natural whole foods. Packaged baby food can be a good source if you would like it already prepared, otherwise, collecting fruits and vegetables at your neighborhood grocery or natural grocery store will become a weekly ceremony. It is also wise to give them a varied selection of food at every feeding. Do not always give them their favorites or too much of one thing because this could lead to vitamin deficiency.

I feed my animals every night just after they wake up and just before I go to bed. This allows me to spend a little time with them and hand feed them a few treats such as pecans or yogurt. I suggest removing all food in the morning after they go to sleep, it is bad for them to nibble on wet foods after they are a day old, and gliders are notorious for littering in the the areas with half-eaten food. I make sure to remove all the bits and pieces every morning so they do not rot and smell and so they wont end up eating something rotten.

A good practice for feeding is to prepare all food so that it is in small size chunks so your gliders can easily grasp it in their hands. For instance, you can serve corn kernels shaved off of the cob. Another good idea is to freeze fruits, veggies, and even completely prepared meals. You can defrost the meal during the day in the fridge or you can simply put the frozen meal or items in the cage before bed and they will thaw out during the night as the glider is active and feeding.

The following list contains foods that my animals eat. There is also some suggestions on what not to feed them. I try to vary the nightly feeding with random items that happen to be in the fridge as well as any leftovers from dinner.

MEAT / PROTEIN

FRUITS AND VEGGIES
  • grapes halved
  • tomatoes halved
  • raw corn kernels, sliced loose (small amounts)
  • cooked potato chunks
  • green bean
  • carrot
  • cantaloupe / melon
  • apple
  • Kale
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries (they are ok for them, however, be careful with cleaning them. They have a very hard surface to clean. Any fruit or veggies with a rough surface need to be cleaned very well before feeding them to prevent the suggies from getting sick.)
  • and so forth, whatever your pet likes and whatever is in the fridge

OTHER
  • Yogurt (vanilla or sweetened with honey)
  • Soy Yogurt with cultures added after pasturizing
  • Clean Water!
  • Various flowers such as baby's breath, bamboo, blue spruce, butterfly bush, cacti(with the thorns removed since they could harm your glider), dandelions, forget-me-nots, forsythia, hibiscus, lavender, lilac, money plants, petunias, protea, quince, roses(with the thorns removed), snap dragons, sycamore, willows, and yucca.

Suggestions on what NOT to feed Sugar Gliders
  • Chocolate (could kill them like it does to canines)
  • Eggs with butter (use a non-stick pan or cook in microwave to make eggs)
  • butter (to hard on their digestive systems to digest)
  • processed sugar (ie: marshmallows)
  • Anything high in Salt (ie:nuts with salt, best to serve non-salted ones)
  • Baby food with spices or onion powder (the best is the plain meat or plain vegies)
  • Bread (it is a filler, may cause them not to eat the good stuff. Some people say it causes problems for them in the digestive tract also)

See Also


I just want to say that kazkos diet is a great place to start when looking at foods to feed your gliders. Here in Australia one of the local Zoos has been breeding and keeping Sugar Gliders since the early 1960's. There diet has been developed over the years and the latest was added to by an animal nutritionist who added the bird vitamins. After some discussions we think this may have come about because of the ease to which these vitamins can be added to many diets. Here it is not recommended to add the reptile vitamins as these were designed primarily for reptiles although I dont understand therefore why the bird vitamins were added for sugar gliders other than perhaps they are more gentle to the digestive system of gliders. Instead of just posting the Healesville Sanctuary diet I will give you the link so that you can see how similar many of the native animal diets are.

[url] http://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/cms/images/stories/docs/HS%20Current%20Diets.pdf [/url]

There are also many diets that you will come across that are refered to as so called proven diets. Most of these diets have not been used consistently for enough time to be called proven. Just know that many do not back up there diets with the so called research that they claim to have done but instead declare that if you do the research you will find the proof. In my books if I had invented a diet that had backing and research done on it I would happily give out all this inforamtion to back up my diet. I'm not telling people not to use these diets but just be aware that they are just a diet made up in someones kitchen. Also don't think because a vet says you have a good diet your glider will not end up with diet related health issues. Many diets are high in Iron and vitamins that can lead to kidney and liver damage when used for long periods of time. Too many vitamins can be as bad as not enough.

Sugar gliders need a diet that is high in calcium. In the wild they eat a lot of insects to gain a large portion of what they need. In captivity it is important to look at the fruit and vegatables you are giving them to make sure that the amount of phosphorus you are giving them is not impeding the calcium they need in there diet. Giving them a high calcium to phosphorus ratio is a good start. Lack of clacium and other vitamains can lead to Hindleg paralyisis or brittle bone decease. Lack of some vitamins can lead to general lethargy, if you see any of these symptons in your Sugar Glider you should seek specialized vetinary care as soon as possable. Delaying vet care may lead to death. (edited by Jett)

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Last Edited April 3, 2010



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