Sugar gliders are extremely cute pets. They are small and funny and have that look in their eyes that can melt hearts. However, these are exotic animals that require special care. If you have or want to get one, you should know that besides special sugar glider cages, love and attention, these small furry creatures also require a particular diet. Read on and learn what food you should give your sugar glider.
A little bit of insight on sugar gliders
Sugar gliders are small exotic pets whose bodies can reach up to 6 – 8.5 inches long when they become adults. They have long tails that measure as much as their body’s length and their weight can vary between 3 and 6 ounces. They are omnivorous and arboreal animals which means that, in their natural habitat, they live in trees.
These are marsupial mammals. The females have a small pouch and they carry their cubs in there after they are born and up to 100 days afterward.
Sugar gliders are nocturnal, so they become active during the night. Also, they are social animals who love to live surrounded by others of their kind. Their life expectancy is pretty long compared to other pets. A sugar glider can live up to 10 or even 15 years.
As previously highlighted, these adorable creatures are exotic specimens. This means that they might not naturally be prone to socializing with humans, especially if you adopt them when they are already adults. The best way to befriend a sugar glider is by trying to create some interaction every day. You will gradually be able to play with them and see how fun they really are.
In their own environment (be it out there in nature or in captivity), gliders are extremely sociable and playful. That is why raising one glider only might not be beneficial as these animals need companions and find it easy to adapt to others of their own kind.
Training sugar gliders to play with you is definitely entertaining as these small pets love climbing and can be quite fun to play with. However, you should be careful in the beginning as they have sharp nails and equally sharp teeth and they might hurt you not intentionally, but out of fear.
Because sugar gliders love climbing, as it is in their nature to constantly look for things they can cling to or hang on to, you should get them a special environment where they can exercise, but also rest. There are numerous sugar glider cages you can purchase online to meet this essential requirement of your pet.
One last thing to keep in mind is that sugar gliders can be quite noisy. Of course, in time you will get used to their ‘voice’. They make certain sounds in order to signal that they need something, or they feel bothered by something. You will learn to distinguish the sounds based on their needs and act accordingly.
What do sugar gliders eat?
In their natural habitat, sugar gliders eat what they can find in trees, given that this is the place where they spend most of their time. In short, they eat fruits, nectar, and gum. They also eat vegetables and other plants if they cannot find sufficient fruit or nectar. Also, they require protein, so they eat small insects or lizards.
As you might assume, given their name, these pets have a sweet tooth. So, in the wilderness, their favorite foods are fruit and nectar. However, not all types of sweet foods are suitable for them. Additionally, on their list of preferences, we can also find food that contains a high content of fats (for example mealworms). Here are some of the common foods you should include in your sugar gliders’ diet.
Fruit is the essential element of a sugar glider’s diet as this is the main source of nutrients these mammals find in nature. You can feed your sugar glider fruits such as bananas, grapes, apples, melon, pears, kiwi, oranges, etc. In other words, almost any type of fruit you like eating is also good for your pet.
Before giving any of the above mentioned to your pet, make sure you wash the products really well. Also, don’t feed them the whole fruit. Cut small pieces of it and put them in your sugar gliders’ bowl or tray. A half-teaspoon of fruit is enough for one pet.
When you feed your sugar glider apples, make sure you priorly eliminate the seeds as they should not be consumed by these animals.
There are different home-made recipes for this source of nutrients that sugar gliders love. You can prepare the nectar by mixing water with honey, eggs, and cereal. You should give approximately one tablespoon of this mix to each sugar glider every day. You can store the nectar for several days in the fridge.
Just like us, sugar gliders also benefit from the myriad useful nutrients found in vegetables. These are recommended for sugar gliders because they contain fibers, vitamins and minerals which are essential to the little creatures’ health.
Some of the most common vegetables you can give to your sugar gliders are lettuce, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, squash. As you can see, these types of vegetables are easy to get and they are quite affordable. Together with fruit, vegetables make up the main part of the sugar glider’s diet. Approximately 75% of a sugar glider’s diet should consist of fruit and vegetables.
Before you give any vegetables to these lovely pets, make sure you priorly wash them really well, just like you would do if you ate them yourself. Then, you should cut them in small pieces in order to feed the pets.
Insects and other protein sources
Insects are a great source of proteins which are very useful to these mammals. Proteins can represent up to 25% of a sugar glider’s diet. In nature, sugar gliders can easily get their source of protein by eating the insects found in their environment. Alternatively, they sometimes eat small lizards or even small species of birds.
In captivity, you will have to do some research at your local pet shop to see if you can find any suitable source of protein for your sugar gliders. Theoretically, you should be able to find mealworms, wax worms, insects or crickets quite easily.
You should be careful with wax worms because, although the furry bundles of joy love it, they are very fat and should be used as a treat and not as a frequent meal.
Other common sources of protein you can provide these pets with are eggs (scrambled or boiled), chicken or turkey.
What foods should sugar gliders avoid?
These mammals can’t eat just about every food that tastes sweet just because they enjoy it. If you want to get a sugar glider as a pet, you should not experiment with feeding it all the sugary foods you eat yourself.
The biggest problem in feeding these pets too many sweets or fatty food is that they can become overweight or obese and, just like humans, develop various correlated diseases. You should keep your sugar glider’s weight under control and reduce the amount of food if you see it is starting to gain weight.
Moreover, if you regularly give your sugar glider treats, you should make sure it has enough freedom and space to exercise to consume those calories. As a rule, in order to keep your pet’s weight within normal limits, you should make sure that treats represent less than 5% of its diet.
When it comes to foods that you shouldn’t give your sugar gliders, think of it this way: these mammals are omnivores. In other words, the foods that are not ok for our health are also bad for them. Since these small creatures eat mainly fruit and vegetables, it is important to try to give them quality products, ideally from organic sources.
Just like us, in the long term, these pets can develop health problems due to the pesticides found in many fresh products. This is why it’s important to buy trusted fruit and vegetables. Any processed or fried food should also be avoided, just like commercial sweets that contain added sugar.
Sugar gliders are lovely and loving once they get used to you. They are somewhat more difficult to maintain due to their varied diet, but, at the end of the day, the effort is worth it as these are quite adorable pets.