Feeding Your Joeys & Adult Gliders
Feeding Your Joeys & Adult Gliders
Feeding a proper, nutritionally complete and balanced diet is crucial to your joey's long-term health and longevity. There are many nutrients that need to be balanced, including the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio, which tends to get the most attention. However, the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio of the diet is not the only one to be concerned with. Many vitamins can react adversely with each other. Some will prevent the absorption of certain minerals and vice versa. For example, too much Vitamin C will prevent the absorption of Calcium.
In addition, it should be noted that too much Calcium is just as harmful as not enough. When too much Calcium is given to a sugar glider, the result can be kidney stones, crystals in the urine, gall stones and/or Calcium deposits on the bones, joints, muscles and organs.
Research done by the SUGAR Group over the past three years has revealed that almost 27% of the gliders necropsied during that time died from liver disease of one type or another. This sent up a red flag for me, so I started to delve into why. It seems that Australian necropsy results show significantly less liver disease. Although there is no concrete evidence at this time, it seems that sugar gliders may be susceptible to Iron Storage Disease (ISD), medically known as Hemochromatosis. It turns out that many of the diets we have been feeding our captive gliders here in the United States are very high in iron due to having iron-fortified ingredients in them. For this reason, I am now feeding my gliders the Australian Wombaroo Diet which has been fed successfully in Australia for almost 30 years.
There are several diet recipes for captive sugar gliders. If you don't want to feed the Australian Wombaroo Diet, then you will need to do further research to determine whether another recipe may be a better choice for you. Just remember to keep an eye on the ingredients and be aware that high iron content may be detrimental to your gliders' long term health.
Coobah and Carina Forage for Mealies in their toy from Xtreme Gliders
Although there are many pelleted food "diets" available for gliders, I do NOT recommend any of them, except the soft pellet that is part of the Suncoast Diet. Hard pellets can scrape the roof of a glider's mouth, causing a passage for bacteria to invade the respiratory sinuses and subsequent infection can be severe.
It is also very important to keep fresh water in their cage at all times since sugar gliders can dehydrate very easily. At first, have water available in a small, non-tippable bowl as well as in a water bottle. Do not take away the water bowl until you have seen your joey use the water bottle.
Sugar gliders need to have a low-fat diet. Therefore, although they love to eat sunflower seeds and nuts, these should only be offered as occasional treats. NEVER give your glider table scraps or human junk food. Although they might eat them with gusto, they are NOT healthy for your glider. Acceptable treats include mealworms*, crickets*, dried fruits, fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables and yogurt (avoid the type that is made with aspartame). It is also important to read the ingredient labels on any foods that you will be giving to your joey. Avoid those with garlic and/or onions, as these can be toxic to gliders.
*Please note, crickets and mealworms can be carriers of Aflatoxins. For more information about them, please read the article about