If you’re one of those who think that sugar gliders eat only sugar because of its name, well, it’s time you discarded that notion. It’s true that these unique creatures like to sap on sugary flowers and stems, but that’s not all it eats to survive in the wild or grow well under pet care.
So, to answer the question “what do sugar gliders eat?” we’ll take you through a series of diet options that this animal could eat. Also, we’ll familiarize you with its characteristics, habitat, life span, and tips on how to properly feed a pet sugar glider.
Table of Contents
1. The Physical Characteristics of Sugar Gliders
Physically, sugar gliders have patagia, which is a pair of gliding membranes that spreads out from its forelegs to its hind legs when extended. The patagia help evade predators, swiftly reach food, and sustain air glides.
Sugar gliders are mostly covered in pale grey fur, which may sometimes be light brown. If not growing in the wild, they are mostly owned as exotic pets.
2. Sugar Gliders’ Nature
Sugar Gliders belong to the genus Petaurus, a class of mammalian marsupial rodents that are pretty small in size. These creatures are arboreal, meaning that they live in trees. They share a very close resemblance to the flying squirrels despite hailing from a different genus.
It’s in the nature of this animal to glide in the air. This acrobatic rodent can go up to 100ft in the air and fly from one point to another. It’s known to be pretty energetic because of its gliding abilities. This is why keeping them in a multi-level cage is advisable to sustain their agility.
This animal is an omnivore; that is, it feeds on plants and animals. This is evident in its food choice, ranging from flying insects to fruits, saps to nectars. Let’s also add that sugar gliders are social pets; keeping two or more is ideal for a fantastic breeding experience.
3. The Distribution, Habitat & Life Span of Sugar Gliders
It is believed that sugar gliders were originally from New Guinea and spread to Australia from there. From this distribution, several new species have emerged. Today, there are about seven animal subspecies, with three predominant species in New Guinea and the remaining four in Australia.
In the wild, sugar gliders are tree dwellers and can live in tree trunks or hollows for an extended period. They quickly change their habitat when threatened by pets or other forest hazards. But those growing in captivity are best kept in wired cages with optimal ventilation.
Concerning the animal’s life span, a typical sugar glider can live up to 12 years. But they are mostly considered geriatric or old from age 5-7.
4. What do Sugar Gliders Eat?
These tiny marsupials love to consume sugary plants, including sweet nectars and sap, hence the name sugar gliders. But that’s not all it can eat. We break this section into the following categories for an easy understanding of what different sugar gliders eat;
Wild sugar gliders
In the wild, sugar gliders live on a complicated diet. They mostly feed on tree sap, gum, honeydew, fruits, nuts, small insects, and reptiles.
What they eat mostly depends on what’s available for them in the wild at different seasons of the year.
During summer, when the trees are blossoming at their best, they easily get several plants, fruits, flowers, and insects to eat. Winter is usually hard, with plants drying up at this time. At these unpleasant times, wild sugar gliders mostly feed on smaller animals to survive.
Captive sugar gliders
When kept as a pet, it’s often hard to replicate what sugar gliders can get access to eat in the wild. The onus is on you to fend for them. Diversifying their food is essential to ensure they get the nutrients to grow well.
Apart from these food varieties, it is important to give them fresh water at regular intervals. Note that sugar gliders are messy eaters, so, their food is best served in a shoe box.
Baby sugar gliders
Sugar gliders in infancy require enough nutrients to grow well. It’s important to treat them to varieties of highly nutritious diets. A baby sugar glider should be fed with milk, supplements, and succulent plants, especially those who have no mothers to suck from.
Joeys that are six weeks old or less should not be given hard nuts to eat except if such nuts are crushed into smaller pellets. They cannot feed themselves at this stage, so they should be handfed with syringes or milk replacers.
At this tender stage, sugar gliders require enough calcium, protein, vitamins, and minerals for bone rigidity. It’s important to give them enough vegetables. Treating them to various feeds is vital to prevent them from becoming picky when they become adults.
5. How Much and How Often do Sugar Gliders Eat?
It’s important to measure the quantity of food given to sugar gliders. This prevents overfeeding, which can result in overweight or impair their agility. On the other hand, underfeeding may affect their growth, balance, and agility.
An adequate diet is required for healthy growth. Thus, they need to eat up to 15-20% of their weight daily, about 3-5 ounces of food. Note that what an adult sugar glider will consume daily varies from what the infant would consume. In all you do, ensure they are not underfed or overfed.
Feed them twice daily, preferably in the morning and evening. Treats including corn and mealworms may be served in the afternoon but in small quantities.
6. What not to Feed Sugar Gliders?
Exposing these amazing creatures to the wrong types of food exposes them to several health problems. Leg paralysis, aflatoxicosis, eye disorders, diarrhea, and vomiting, to mention a few, are diseases tied to nutritional conditions in sugar gliders.
Therefore, your pets should not be fed with caffeine, avocado, apple seeds, fruit pit, rhubarb, chocolate, chives, garlic, lettuce, onion, cheese, and bird seed. These foods must be avoided entirely. Also, bugs or fruits affected by pesticides should not be given as food.
Note that your pet could die when they are highly allergic to foods. So, it’s in their best interest to make only the recommended feeds available. It’s important to take this advice seriously.
7. Tips for Feeding Sugar Gliders
The following tips will come in handy for feeding your sugar gliders:
The right types of food are not bargainable
Balance your glider’s diet with a mixture of veggies and insects. This way, you give them the right amount of calcium, protein, and vitamins needed for their growth. You must identify a good source of protein for your gliders.
Boiled chicken or turkey, plain non-fat yogurt, bugs, and hard-boiled eggs are good protein sources. Fresh fruits and vegetables, including spinach, carrots, and apples, should also be served in moderation. Don’t forget to add clean water too.
Mount food bowls in the cage
Sugar gliders are real tree climbers and tree dwellers. Mounting their food bowl is like trying to model their natural environment. By doing this, their bowls will always be clean, and they will be more inclined to feed.
Separate real food from treats
Unsalted seeds and raw nuts, raw corn, gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, and other foods high in oxalate should be served occasionally as treats. These categories of food that are extremely sweet or rich in fat should not be given as real food.
Cut food open before serving
Open up food or cut them into smaller digestible pieces. It’s easy for gliders to ingest them that way. They will also encourage to eat a large portion of the meal.
Remove food remnants after feeding
Don’t leave perishable foods in the cage after your gliders have finished eating. These remnants will rot and make their cage look messy. Besides this, gliders might feed on rotten food and make that their preference.
Reach out to your vet
If you’re finding it difficult to feed your gliders or they are not eating well. You should reach out to your vet for help.
Sugar gliders are lively pets that are easy to care for. All you need is to give them the right food, and they’d grow well. However, it is best to avoid foods pointed out in the article to prevent your gliders from being exposed to nutritional disorders which might impair their health.
1. What do sugar gliders eat as pets?
Sugar gliders eat vegetables and insects to have a balanced diet. Some of the food they can be fed with include cicada, earthworms, moths, kiwi, cricket, mealworms, fungi, nectar, acacia seeds, bird eggs, spiders, beetles, pollen, honeydew, eucalyptus sap, and acacia gum.
2. What insects do sugar gliders eat?
Some of the insects that sugar gliders can eat include mealworms, fungi, caterpillars, weevils, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets. These insects serve as a good source of protein for the animal.