Sugar Glider Diet
So the question is what do sugar gliders eat. Before we delve into that let us find out a little more about the sugar glider or pocket pets as they are sometimes referred to.
A little about Sugar Gliders
A sugar glider (biological name Petaurus breviceps) is a small, gliding marsupial animal native to New Guinea and Australia. They live in medium sized groups (10-15 sugar gliders per colony), and are tree-dwelling animals. They derive their nutrients from eating the gum and sap of trees. They would also eat insects and fruits when they have a chance.
Why Are Sugar Gliders Such Popular Pets?
Sugar gliders are incredibly loving pets. Sugargliders have a lifespan of 7 -15 years while in captivity (a good alternative to cats and dogs). They also bond with their owner, meaning that they are exceptionally affectionate. They are becoming more and more popular and common in the United States, as well as overseas.
What Do Sugar Gliders Eat In The Wild?
Most experts and animal researchers agree that there are really only THREE basic types of nutrition sugar gliders need. The first is protein, the second is fresh vegetables and fruits and the last (but not the least) thing is vitamin supplements to fills in all the nutritional gaps.
In the wild, a Sugar bear’s diet consists of roughly 75% saps, gums, and nectars taken from different types of plants and trees. The other 25% is “LIVE” food; like bird eggs, baby birds and insects etc.
What To Feed Sugar Gliders In Captivity?
So all in all, Sugar Gliders need solid diet of 75% fruit and vegetables and 25% animal protein. The guideline is valid for feeding them as pets as well. The major protein source can be insects, meal worms, crickets, wax worms(feed these in moderation since they are high in fat), scrambled or boiled eggs, low fat turkey, boiled and skinned chicken, or feeder mice. If you don’t prefer to feed them live mice, you can get frozen mice and thaw them in warm water. Be careful about their fat intake because it can cause health problems.
The fruits and veggies you feed them must be fresh and NOT canned (the canned foods have added sugars and preservatives that can be deadly). Some of the fruits and veggies that sugar gliders usually enjoy (not a complete list): Apples, applesauce (not the canned ones), berries, bread, cantaloupe, carrots, bananas, cherries, corn, dates, dried fruit, figs, grapes, honey, honeydew, melons, apricots, papaya, peaches (NO pits please, they are toxic), pears, pineapple, plums, pure fruit juices, raisins, strawberries, and sweet potatoes. NEVER give Sugar Gliders chocolate! It is toxic for them.
What do sugar gliders eat? Well the diet of the sugar glider is very basic, consisting primarily of five ingredients, plus Gatorade and apple juice. These basic food items and liquids will keep your baby marsupial happy and healthy throughout its lifetime. While the food items may remain the same and become boring (to you), watching them eat is never the same. Sugar gliders have opposing thumbs on all four feet, making their feet much like our hands. Feeding time is show time for these little babies, so learn what and how to feed your sugar glider, then sit back and enjoy the show.
Since sugar gliders are so tiny, dehydration is always a concern. When they are first adopted and brought home to live with you, the unfamiliar surroundings and scents may cause them to be slow to drink from their water bottle.
To ensure they are getting enough liquids and prevent dehydration, prepare two methods for them to drink liquids. Prepare a water bottle to hang on the inside of the cage that contains half Gatorade and half water. Gently dab the tip of the water bottle on the sugar gliders nose so it will understand where the drinking spout is. Then use a lid, like the one on a Gatorade bottle, and place a mixture of half apple juice and half water in the lid. Place the lid near the baby marsupial’s food bowl. This will provide the sugar glider with two drinking choices and locations, observe to see which one the baby likes best.
Try different flavors of Gatorade until you discover the favorite one. If your sugar glider seems to like to drink from the lid best, slowly wean him off the lid and onto the bottle for best results. While drinking from the lid poses no health problem, it’s easy to turn over and could result in your tiny sugar glider being without drinking liquids in your absence.
Pelletized food, which look much like small dog kibble, that is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a sugar glider tops the ‘Big Five’ food list.
These food pellets can be purchased online and will ensure your sugar glider is getting needed vitamins and minerals. Plus this type of food prevents the marsupial from having any unpleasant body odors.
The second food source on the ‘Big Five’ list is a specially formulated gravy powder that is mixed with water. The gravy is packed full of nutrients and flavor and helps prevent boredom from a daily diet of crunchy pellets. Stir up a little gravy with water and pour over food pellets.
Hand your sugar glider baby an apple slice and both of you will get happy. They love apples and put on quite a show while eating them. Be sure to thoroughly wash and peel the apple prior to slicing it to remove all toxins. Better yet, buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible to feed to your sugar glider. the strong pesticides used on fruits and vegetables don’t always wash off completely and can be hazardous to the health of your tiny marsupial.
Coming in at number four on the five food list is bread. A little piece of bread makes them happy and provides them with fiber. The main way you will know something is wrong with a sugar glider’s diet is by the consistency of their stools. Diarrhea is an immediate red flag that alerts you to a dietary problem. Hard, infrequent stools will also alert you to a need for more dietary fiber in the marsupial’s daily diet.
And finishing out the basic five food list for sugar gliders is flavored yogurt. But this food item should not be fed to them more than twice per week. The flavor is a treat and the live yogurt cultures do for the marsupials digestive system the same thing it does for ours.
Sugar gliders are lactose intolerant, so feeding them any other dairy product or feeding them yogurt more than twice per week will have unpleasant results.
The above listed five foods should always be the steady, staple diet of a sugar glider. However, those are not the only foods which they can eat. Once the sugar glider has been eating the above mentioned foods and liquids for six weeks without any digestive problems, other foods can be slowly introduced.
As a rule of thumb, any food you would feed to a two-year old can be fed to a sugar glider. Fresh fruits and vegetables,, cooked meats (except pork), foods that are low in salt, sugar and fat (i.e no processed or fast foods).
Small nibbles of additional foods as a treat is fine, remember a sugar glider weighs less than eight ounces and its tiny stomach can’t hold much food. Introduce new foods slowly and one at a time. Then if a digestive problem occurs, the food causing the problem will be easy to identify and go on the ‘No-No’ list.
Safe tree saplings /branches which can be fed include;
Acacia, Apple, Aspen, Balsa, Bamboo (real bamboo, not decorative which is toxic), Beech, Blue Spruce, Butterfly Bush, Buttonwood, Carob Tree, Cholla, Citrus (orange, lime, lemon, etc.), Cork Bark (not the wood of the cork oak, just the bark), Cottonwood, Crabapple, Crape Myrtle, Eucalyptus (), Forsythia, Grapewood (woody grape vines), Hazelnut, Hybiscus, Lilac, Madrone, Magnolia, Manzanita, Maple (except Red Maple varieties), Mimosa, Mountain Ash, Mulberry, Pear, Pecan, Plane Tree, Poplar, Rose of Sharon, Sassafras, Silk Tree, Strawberry Tree, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Sycamore, Redbud, Ribbonwood, Willow, Yucca.
Woods that are often considered safe, but may cause dermatological reactions in some gliders; Birch, Elm, Ficus, Dogwood, Pussy Willow, Rosewood, Rubber Tree.
Unsafe woods/branches include;
Trees that bear pit containing fruits are NOT safe woods to use. These include; Apricot, Avocado, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach, Plum, etc. Other unsafe woods include (but are not remotely limited to); Box Elder, Boxwood, Cedar, Oak, Pine, Red variety Maples, Walnut, etc.
Fruits or Vegetables than can’t be thoroughly washed