Believe it or not, diet is one of the most controversial issues in the sugar glider community. With exotic pets, diet is not as simple or cut and dry as you may be used to with your average domestic animal.
With dogs and cats, you can just go to the pet store and buy a bag of dry food and call it a day. With sugar gliders, you are going to have to feed them a nutritionally balanced and varied diet that you buy at the grocery store.
Although there are people out there that tell you it is okay to feed sugar gliders dry pellet food, if you do some digging you will find that this is not a healthy diet for them. There is tons of evidence online that shows what a poor diet of dry pellets can do to sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders who are fed pellet diets can become malnourished quickly and can get diseases such as Hind Leg Paralysis. One of the first signs of a poor diet may be a dull and cracked coat. A healthy sugar glider will have a fluffy, soft fur.
One of the reasons pellets are not nutrionally sufficient is that they usually contain fillers. Sugar gliders need to get 50% protein in their diet. Ideally, you should provide live insects for your sugar gliders because this is what they would eat in the wild. You can also give them other proteins such as lean meats and eggs.
The other half of their diet is split 25% vegetables and 25% fruits. You will need to be able to provide fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Sugar gliders do not eat large portions, so you can keep frozen fruits and veggies and they will last quite a while.
It is also important to give a variety so that they get a well rounded nutritious diet. It is the same for sugar gliders as it is for people. If you were to eat the same food every day, you probably would not be getting the right nutrients because all fruits and vegetables are slightly different and contain different vitamins.
Knowing the right fruits and vegetables to give your glider is also crucial to a healthy diet. You want to make sure you maintain a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1. If you give too many fruits and vegetables that are high in phosphorous, it will inhibit the absorption of calcium. It is extremely important that your sugar glider gets enough calcium. A calcium deficiency is what leads to Hind Leg Paralysis and it is a very dangerous condition for your sugar glider.
There is a lot of research that you should do about diet before you get a sugar glider. It is important to understand the ins and outs of what is good for them and what should be avoided. There are various diets you can follow that have been used for years successfully by breeders and rescue groups.
You can find recipes that are easy to follow. Just be sure to follow the recipes exactly if you choose to go that route because they take into account the proper calcium to phosphorous ratio. If you change stuff around, you may mess up the ratio.
Although diet is a somewhat complicated issue, once you get the hang of it, it is actually quite simple. There is a lot of research that you will need to do in the beginning, but you will learn quickly and after that it’s no big deal. Most people find that if they need to, they can feed their sugar gliders with the food they have on hand for themselves.