Feeding and Nutrition

What do you feed your gliders?

The diet of captive sugar gliders is very different to that of wild gliders.  In captivity we cannot recreate the wild diet as it consists mainly of gum and tree exudates as well as pollen, nectar, honeydew (insect secretions), manna, and naturally gut loaded insects.

In captivity there are many different diets to choose and confuse you.  The most popular diet in the UK by far is SGS II.  It is a highly effective diet producing fantastic improvements in gliders when they are switched to SGS II from another diet.  On the Sugar Gliders UK Facebook page there is a photo album showing before and after pictures: Before and After SGS II.  You do need to be a member of the group to view the album.

SGS II is now very popular across Europe and it is also an approved diet in America.

What Does SGS II consist of?

SGS II consists of a base made from fruit and vegetables all blended together to form a ‘mush’ mix.  The mush should be at least two thirds vegetables and one third fruit.  Many people like to do a large 1lb batch and freeze in ice cubes.  A batch of this size can make 20 – 25 individual meals (each glider having a heaped tablespoon of mush).

Ingredients for one pound (450g) batch:

  • 450g fruit and vegetables.  I tend to use a lot of butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, the fruit varies from apple, pear, papaya (very good for calcium), melon.  Do not add grapes, avocado or anything in the onion family.
  • 2 teaspoons of Wombaroo High Protein Supplement
  • 1 teaspoon of bee pollen
  • 1 quarter of a teaspoon of acacia gum
  • 1 tablespoon of linseed (soaked in 3 – 4 tablespoons of boiled water)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon natural probiotic yogurt
  • 1 peeled hard boiled egg
  • Half a teaspoon of calcium powder in the mush mix OR, if you prefer, use a liquid calcium but do not add that to the large batch.  Liquid calcium should be added to individual meals at time of feeding.  DO NOT USE BOTH.
  • Gliderade to be give 2 – 3 times a week as per the instructions on the pack.  DO NOT ADD TO THE MUSH MIX.

Click HERE to shop for all the supplements required for the SGS II diet.

Always wash your fruit and veg; peel the butternut squash and sweet potato, etc.  If we peel the item for us to eat then peel it for the gliders.  I don’t bother peeling things like apples, pears, carrots, sharon fruit, peaches, nectarines, etc.  All fruit and vegetables are raw.

Chop the fruit and veg up, remove seeds and pop it in the food processor, add water and blend it to a mush, add as much water as you need to keep the mix moving easily.  The point of ‘mushing’ is to stop your gliders from picking and choosing their favourites.  This ensures that they receive the nutrients from all of the ingredients.  Mushing also ensures that supplements are evenly distributed throughout the mix.

Add the rest of the ingredients while the fruit and vegetable mix is mushing. When you add the linseed, add the boiled water too as that contains the oils. I pummel my linseed a bit to allow more oils to escape which in turn allows easier absorption.   It really is that simple!

Calcium is a very important part of the diet to avoid ‘hind leg paralysis’.  Calcium is only needed 2 – 3 times a week (or every other day).  I use a liquid calcium which is given at a rate of 0.1ml per 100g of bodyweight.  Do not exceed the dose stated.  Too much calcium is as bad as too little.

The protein source (the boiled egg) can be substituted with a high quality cat biscuit.  It is important to provide a crunch in the diet to maintain oral health.

There are a few people that recommend cooking sweet potato and butternut squash to allow easier/better absorption of Vitamin A.  I do not recommend this as the cooking process kills other equally important vitamins like Vitamin C for example.  Vitamin A can still be absorbed whether the food item is cooked or not.  If a vitamin has been destroyed through cooking, that specific vitamin cannot be absorbed at all.

There is much speculation regarding what sugar gliders should eat, but there are a few basic rules:

  • Never feed chocolate, anything from the onion family, millet, caffeine, canned fruit, rhubarb, grapes and avocado should also be avoided due to its high fat content.
  • Ensure clean water is available at all times, use a water bottle not a dish.
  • Always remove any uneaten fruit in the morning, this is a breeding ground for bacteria and will also attract flies and ants.
  • Never feed rodent mixes, peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn or corn products. Gliders are not seed and nut eaters, not only can they be a choke hazard and possibly damage the intestine, but they are prone to aflatoxin contamination which can prove fatal.

Click HERE for balanced SGS II recipe ideas – the link takes you to a Facebook group which you will need to join in order to see the recipes.