What do sugar gliders eat? This is a question many pet owners struggle with.
When you get a first get a sugar glider as a pet it can be very overwhelming to figure out what they can and can eat. Naturally, you start doing research and you read all kinds of stuff about which foods they can and can not eat. You eventually gather some knowledge but even still, since there are so many fruits, vegetables, and other foods in the world it can be hard to remember which foods are good for them to eat and which are best avoided.
In this post, I hope to remedy this by compiling a complete list of what sugar gliders can and can not eat. I will create an exhaustive list of all the vegetables, fruits, and other foods that are safe and not safe for sugar glider consumption.
For some foods, such as blueberries, I have also written a more detailed overview which you can read by clicking on the link. Now, let’s get into it!
Make sure to give them a varied diet
Before I begin listing off the foods that sugar gliders can and can’t eat I want to stress that you give them a varied diet. Just because you see that they can eat one of the fruits or vegetables that you plan on giving them does not mean that you should make this a large part of their diet.
Sugar gliders benefit from eating a large range of diverse fruits and vegetables.
In the wild, these creatures have a very complex diet and it’s quite difficult to replicate this in captivity. However, you have to try as best you can to do this for them to be happy and healthy.
The optimal diet for sugar gliders
Whenever you search for the optimal diet for sugar gliders you’ll most likely run across a lot of different and conflicting opinions and information. Some websites will tell you that you should feed your glider a diet made only of fruits and syrups, while others want you to feed them only pellets. Because of this, it can be hard to determine what your glider should eat.
To give your glider a nutritionally balanced diet, I would recommend reading the information below.
According to the North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital, the optimal diet for sugar gliders is made up of the following components:
- 60% Leadbeater mixture (read below on how to make this mixture) – this mixture, once completed, will be frozen in ice cube trays. Feed them a quarter to half of a cube per day of this.
- 30% pellets – Around 1 teaspoon per day
- 10% fresh fruits/vegetables and nuts – 2-3 teaspoons per day
- Occasionally some live insects, such as mealworms, as a treat – not too often due to the high fat content
Now, when you read “Leadbeater” mixture you might wonder what the heck that is and that’s very understandable. I hadn’t heard of it either until recently. Basically it’s a mixture that was created as food for possums that have a similar diet to sugar gliders. Some modifications to this mixture have been made to make it better for sugar glider consumption.
The ingredients you need to make this mixture are these:
- a quarter of a cup of apple juice
- half a cup of honey
- a hard-boiled egg without the shell
- 4 ounces of Mixed Fruit Yogurt Gerber Juice
- 1 teaspoon of Rep-Cal Herptivite Multivitamin Supplement (Blue label)
- 2 teaspoons of Rep-Cal Calcium Supplement Non-Phosphorus with Vitamin D3 (pink label)
- 2 0.5 ounce jars of chicken baby food
- a quarter cup of wheat germ
- half a cup of dry baby cereal (oatmeal or mixed)
Instructions on how to make this mixture:
Blend the honey, egg, and apple juice in a blender until smooth. Turn off the blender and add the Gerber juice
and Rep-cal Herpivite Vitamin Supplement. Blend until smooth and then turn off blender. Add the Rep-cal
Calcium Supplement, the chicken baby food, wheat germ, and dry baby cereal. One last time, blend until
smooth, and pour into ice cube trays, filling each compartment only halfway and place into the freezer.
The nice thing about this mixture is that it can be frozen. This means that you don’t have to make it that often – you can simply make a batch of it once in a while and keep it in the freezer. Just thaw it whenever it’s feeding time and give it to your glider.
Overall it’s a very convenient and healthy food for your sugar glider.
Fruits that sugar gliders can eat
Now that we’ve gone over the optimal diet, and know that it’s good for your glider to have at least 10% fruits and vegetables in it, let’s see which fruits they can eat.
The following fruits can be consumed by sugar gliders:
- Bell Peppers
- Casaba Melon
- Custard Apples
- Ground Cherries
- Java Plum
- Mammy Apple
- Mandarin Oranges
- Passion Fruit
- Prickly Pear
- Rose Apple
- Sugar Apple
As you can see, this list is quite big. That’s because sugar gliders can eat most fruits. However, not all fruits are equal; some are better than for gliders than others. The best way to ensure that your glider gets a balanced diet is to give them a large variety of these fruits rather than feeding them only one or two from this list.
Also, always make sure to wash the fruits properly before feeding; especially if they’re non-organic.
Vegetables that sugar gliders can eat
Vegetables are another important part of your glider’s diet. Let’s take a look at which vegetables they can safely eat:
- Alfalfa Sprouts,
- Baby Carrots
- Bamboo Shoots
- Beet Greens
- Black Eyed Peas
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Chicory Greens
- Chinese Cabbage
- Collard Greens
- Chick Peas
- Dandelion Greens
- French Beans
- Ginger Root
- Green Beans
- Green Pepper
- Mustard Greens
- Sweet Red Peppers
- Snow Peas
- Summer Squash
- Swiss Chard
- Turnip Greens
- Winter Squash
- Yellow Wax Beans
Again, a pretty large list. However, the same thing applies here as to the list of fruits: don’t just feed them one or two of these vegetables. Make sure to mix it up to give them a well-varied diet. Also, always make sure to wash the vegetables before feeding them to your suggie.
What about nuts?
Sugar gliders go nuts for nuts, but they shouldn’t eat too much of it. You can occasionally feed your glider a bit of roasted non-salted almond, but not too often. Nuts are very high in fat and you can very easily overfeed your glider when giving them nuts.
Overfeeding can lead to obese sugar gliders which comes with a whole range of health issues.
If you do give them nuts, make sure to give it to them only very sparingly as a special treat.
Can sugar gliders eat meat?
Sugar gliders eat insects in the wild, but of course, since they’re small creatures, they’re incapable of taking down and eating big animals like pigs, cows, or birds in the wild. However, you might be surprised to learn that they can in fact eat some meats in small quantities and it can even be a good source of protein for them.
Some meats and animal products that sugar gliders can eat are:
- Chicken and Turkey
- Ground beef
If you give your sugar glider meat make sure that it’s well-cooked (never raw) and that you do NOT use any seasonings or salt.
Foods to avoid giving your glider
Now that we’ve gone over the fruits and vegetables that are safe for your sugar glider to consume let’s discuss some foods that you should absolutely NOT give to your glider. After all, knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing what to include.
Foods to avoid are:
- Cheese (or other dairies besides yogurt)
- Processed foods such as french fries or potato chips
- Processed meats like ham, salami, etc
- Bird food
- Lettuce (low in nutrition)
- Raw Lima Beans
- Canned fruits and vegetables (too high in preservatives)
Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. There may very well be other foods that you should not feed your glider. Always do research to find out if something you want to feed your glider is safe for them to consume.
Calcium Phosphorus ratio for gliders
While there are many different opinions on the best diet for sugar gliders one thing that sugar gliders can agree on is that they need a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio.
The proper ratio is between 1 and 2 times more calcium than phosphorus, or in other words: a ratio of 1-2:1. This is important because if they do not have the proper ratio they can have problems like hind leg paralysis, definitely something you’ll want to avoid.
A good resource where you can find the calcium to phosphorus ratio for many common fruits and vegetables can be found here.
However, it should be noted that just because a fruit or vegetable does not have the ideal calcium:phosphorus ratio does not mean that they can not eat it. As long as their complete diet falls within the right ratio it’s fine for them to eat fruits and vegetables that fall outside this ratio.
Sugar gliders are difficult to feed; their natural diet is hard to replicate in captivity but with the right preparation and research you can give them a diet that’ll allow them to thrive. Make sure to always do your research before you feed them so that you don’t accidentally feed them the wrong foods.
Overall, the best way to feed them is by giving them a diet that consists of the Leadbeater mixture I’ve described, pellets, fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of nuts/insects as treats.
Also, make sure to keep the calcium to phosphorus ratio in mind to avoid the problems that can arise from a lack of calcium.