Puff Daddy on eucalyptus pellets shortly before his death.

Sugar glider food in pellet form seems like an easy and safe way to feed gliders especially with promises like: "A Pellet diet with all your sugar gliders dietary requirements", "All the nutrition your sugar glider requires", and "A diet approved by vets nationwide for age joey - adult sugar gliders". The only problem is all of these statements are false because sugar gliders are exotic omnivores, innate sap-suckers, and require strict dietary requirements all of which exceed what pellets can offer.

This is not to say pellets cannot be offered but it is very important to note they are not complete diets on their own. When offered alongside a diet or as an occasional treat pellets are okay but fed alone they led to malnutrition for the reasons that follow.

Aussie on cat food, pellets, and nuts.

Sugar gliders are omnivores and they digest their food relatively different from carnivores. Cats are a good example of carnivores, they will rip chunks of meat off with their teeth and then swallow it whole whereas omnivores consume both plant and animal materials and use their teeth to grind the food down to then swallow it. This process is called masticate, sugar gliders masticate their food severely until they have swallowed all the liquids. They will then spit out the remainder which is a hard solid that is not digestible. Sugar gliders mouths and digestive systems are not built for a diet consisting of pellets solely. If you already own gliders you may notice they leave crescent shaped food solids laying around their food bowl, these are the pieces they cannot swallow.

Since the process of how sugar gliders digest food requires liquids it is easy to understand why wild sugar gliders mainly eat gums, wattles, manna, and other liquid consistent materials. These items and their consistencies are important to replicate for captive gliders if they are to receive adequate nutrition.

In captivity their are a number of diet related issues that have begun to surface. The following is a list of correlations that for the most part are linked to diets made up solely of pellets: low Calcium leds to Hind Leg Paralysis, high iron may result in liver and kidney disease, high Phosphorus causes Calcium deficiencies, and generally a lack in any nutrients causes fur staining (an indication of poor health / malnutrition), and a weakened immune system.

When choosing a diet for your gliders be sure to consult an exotics vet that has knowledge on nutrition in theses animals, a reputable or informed vet will never make you feel you must buy a certain product or steer you away from nectar replacements diets, they should be concerned with the Calcium levels in the diet you choose, and know the consequences of feeding pellets alone.

A glider fed only pellets.

See Also

Some Popular Pellets
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Last Edited August 17, 2012