Last Modified

January 2, 2024 by Umair Shahid

Sugar gliders, those small marsupials from Australia and New Guinea, are interesting creatures with special gliding abilities and charming personalities. When kept as pets, it’s crucial to feed them a diet that mimics what they eat in the wild. In their natural environment, sugar gliders eat a mix of things like eucalyptus and acacia sap, nectar, pollen, insects, and spiders, adjusting their diet based on what’s available in different seasons. 

Pet owners should offer a well-rounded diet to keep them healthy in captivity. This includes specially formulated pelleted kibble, mixtures with nectar or sap, fresh fruits and veggies, a few insects, and a calcium-based multivitamin. It’s also important to know which human foods are safe for them, like chocolate, uncooked beans, onions, garlic, and artificial sweeteners should be avoided. 

By understanding and meeting the dietary needs of sugar gliders, pet owners contribute to the well-being of these fascinating animals, ensuring they thrive in a home setting. Let’s now delve deeper into the specifics of the sugar glider diet.

What Do Sugar Gliders Eat

Understanding the Diet of Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders, the small marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea, boast a diverse diet in their natural habitat. Being opportunistic omnivores, they adapt their food choices based on what’s available. 

Their menu includes eucalyptus and acacia tree sap, pollen, nectar, manna (a sugary substance from tree wounds), honeydew (produced by sap-sucking insects), and various insects and spiders. This diet shifts with the seasons, aligning with the changing availability of food sources.

When these creatures become pets, it becomes paramount to provide a diet closely resembling their natural eating patterns to ward off nutritional issues. Ailments like obesity, malnutrition, and osteodystrophy often result from an inadequate diet. Nutrition-related concerns are a primary reason sugar gliders visit veterinarians.

The Association of Sugar Glider Veterinarians advises a daily diet comprising approximately 15-20% of their body weight, divided into thirds: one-third nutritionally balanced pelleted kibble, one-third nectar/sap-based mix, and one-third a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. 

Additionally, a small number of insects every other day and a calcium-based multivitamin are recommended. It’s crucial to be mindful of human foods that are safe for sugar gliders and those that should be avoided, including chocolate, uncooked beans, onions, garlic, and artificial sweeteners.

Feeding Sugar Gliders: Frequency and Quantity

Sugar gliders, weighing between 3-5 ounces, have a daily dietary requirement of about 15-20% of their body weight. To break it down, this translates to roughly a quarter to half an ice cube of Leadbeater’s mix, a teaspoon of nutritional pellets, and 2-3 teaspoons of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. 

The feeding routine varies among owners, with some opting for once a day at dusk, while others choose twice a day – morning and night. Generally, evening feedings are common, with leftover food and dishes removed the next morning.

Treats like mealworms should be given sparingly due to their high-fat content. Some owners provide mealworms every 3 days, with 5-7 mealworms per glider. It’s essential to be mindful of certain foods to avoid, including chocolate, uncooked beans, onions, garlic, and artificial sweeteners.

Foods suitable for sugar gliders

1. Hot Dogs: Not recommended due to chemicals, salt, and potentially toxic ingredients like onions or garlic.

2. Spinach: Can be given in moderation, ensuring it’s fresh and thoroughly washed to remove pesticides.

3. Fruits: A variety is suitable, such as apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, cherries, dates, figs, grapefruit, honeydew, mangoes, oranges, and pears.

4. Dried Vegetables: Acceptable as they provide protein and minerals.

5. Grains: While specific information is not conclusive, being omnivores, sugar gliders may consume grains; expert advice is recommended.

6. Meat: Includes insects and small reptiles.

7. Milk: Dairy products, including milk, should be avoided as they can cause complications.

8. Carob: Considered a safe treat that mimics chocolate but is glider-friendly.

9. Cornbread: An occasional treat, not a staple, to be given with care.

Remember, with time, managing this dietary regimen becomes more straightforward. When it comes to feeding sugar gliders, it’s crucial to be mindful of what they should avoid. Despite their broad food preferences, certain items can be harmful. Ensuring the freshness and pesticide-free nature of their food is paramount. Maintaining a balanced diet that mirrors their wild eating habits is equally important.

Foods Not Recommended for Sugar Gliders 

1. Chocolate: Even a small amount is toxic and can be fatal to sugar gliders.

2. Dairy Products: Generally lactose intolerant, sugar gliders should avoid cheese or ice cream. Small amounts of flavored yogurt may be tolerated, but avoiding dairy is safest.

3. Foods with Refined Sugar: Items like canned fruit or candy, with high sugar content, can lead to health problems.

4. Pesticide-Treated Foods: Foods treated with pesticides pose a risk; thorough washing of fruits and vegetables is essential.

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5. Certain Fruits and Vegetables: Some, like blackberries and broccoli, may retain harmful chemicals. Additionally, avocados, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, garlic, onions, peas, turnips, and others can be toxic.

6. Nuts and Seeds: While not toxic, they’re high in fat and low in nutritional value, suitable only as occasional treats.

7. High-Fat Foods: Foods like pork, rich in fat, should be avoided due to digestion difficulties.

8. Foods High in Phosphorus: Items like corn should be fed sparingly to prevent intestinal problems and calcium deficiency.

9. Fruit Pits: Poisonous and should be kept away from sugar gliders.

10. Onions and Garlic: Completely toxic and should be avoided in their entirety. Being aware of these guidelines ensures the well-being of your sugar gliders.

When it comes to feeding sugar gliders, ensuring a well-rounded and diverse diet is essential. The following practical tips cover the provision of water, dry food, vegetables, and strawberries

Water for Sugar Gliders

While sugar gliders obtain a significant portion of their water from food, it’s crucial to have fresh water accessible. Opt for a stoppered glass water bottle over plastic. If you observe inadequate water consumption, a cautious solution is mixing water with a 50/50 ratio of Gatorade or apple juice. However, moderation is key to avoiding potential health issues arising from excessive sugar intake.

Dry Food for Sugar Gliders

Specially formulated dry foods with human-grade ingredients, such as Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wholesome Balance Real Chicken Sugar Glider Food and Critter Love® Tropical Kibble, meet the nutritional requirements without fillers, by-products, corn, or soy ingredients.

Vegetables for Sugar Gliders

Vegetables should constitute a substantial part of the sugar glider diet. Safe options include alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, asparagus, beet greens, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli (in moderation), carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumber, green beans, kale, peas, sweet potato, and more. Thoroughly wash all vegetables to eliminate potential pesticides before feeding them to your sugar glider.

Strawberries for Sugar Gliders

While sugar gliders can enjoy strawberries, treat them as an occasional dessert. Low in acid and beneficial when fully ripe, strawberries should be given in moderation due to their sugar content.

Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive. If uncertain about a particular food, consulting with a vet or a sugar glider expert is the best course of action. Always prioritize fresh, pesticide-free options to ensure the well-being of your sugar gliders.

Sugar Gliders and Human Food

Sugar gliders, those petite marsupials with diverse tastes, are omnivores, enjoying a menu of insects, tree sap, pollen, fruits, and small reptiles. When it comes to our food, they can nibble on various fruits and veggies like apples, bananas, grapes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and leafy greens. Importantly, stick to fresh or frozen options – no canned goods.

Now, about cheese – it’s a no-go for sugar gliders. Much like many mammals, they’re lactose intolerant, lacking the enzyme to tackle milk sugars. For them, cheese consumption spells trouble – think bloating, gas, diarrhea, and overall discomfort. Given their small size, these issues can seriously harm their health. Since cheese isn’t part of their natural diet, it’s better to keep it off the menu.

Bear in mind not all human foods suit sugar gliders. Some fruits and veggies are downright toxic, like avocado, onion, garlic, and rhubarb – an absolute no-no. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can upset their tummies, so steer clear. As for human junk food – chips, cookies, and candy – they’re a sugary, fatty, and additive-laden minefield best left untouched by sugar gliders. Healthy choices mean happy gliders!

Conclusion

Ensuring a wholesome diet for your sugar glider is vital for their overall health and happiness. A well-rounded and balanced diet, closely mimicking their natural eating patterns in the wild, is crucial to prevent nutritional concerns and promote thriving in a home setting. As a responsible owner, being knowledgeable about safe and beneficial foods, as well as those to avoid, is key.

This involves offering a mix of nutritionally balanced pelleted kibble, nectar/sap-based blends, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a limited quantity of insects, supplemented with a calcium-based multivitamin. Regularly monitoring your sugar glider’s eating habits, weight, and overall health is essential to catch any potential issues early.

By comprehending and addressing the dietary needs of sugar gliders, pet owners play a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of these captivating creatures, enabling them to flourish in a domestic environment. Ongoing consultation with a veterinarian or sugar glider expert keeps you updated on the latest dietary recommendations and optimal practices for maintaining your pet’s health.

References:

  1. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/sugar-gliders-feeding
  2. https://www.webmd.com/pets/feeding-a-sugar-glider
  3. https://www.wikihow.com/Feed-a-Sugar-Glider
  4. https://www.thesprucepets.com/bml-diet-for-sugar-gliders-5105257
Author

I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.

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