Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) are insectivores and omnivores -- they eat insects, meat and vegetation, but not all foods are suitable for sugar gliders. Named for their preference for sweet foods, sugar gliders enjoy drinking nectar and tree sap the wild. They also enjoy fatty foods, such as mealworms and fly pupae. In captivity, they can become obese if they eat too many sweet and fatty foods, which leads to health problems. A sugar glider's diet should be no more than 5 percent treats.
List of Foods That Sugar Gliders Can Eat
Sugar gliders benefit from a homemade equivalent to nectar. To make your own nectar mix, use the one in "Sugar Gliders: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual" by Caroline MacPherson. You'll need a half-cup and 2 tablespoons of warm water with an equal amount of raw honey, a shelled hard-boiled egg, a teaspoon of a sugar glider-appropriate vitamin supplement and a half-cup of high-protein baby cereal.
Put the water, honey, egg and vitamin supplement in a blender, and start the blender running. Gradually add the baby cereal and continue blending until the mixture is smooth. The nectar mix stays fresh for three days in a refrigerator, and you can also freeze portions for later use. Sugar gliders need 1 tablespoon of nectar mix per day.
Insects and meat provide protein for sugar gliders, but these foods don't supply the calcium the animals need. Low calcium levels cause sugar gliders problems with bones and teeth. Boost calcium levels in sugar gliders by feeding them live insects gut-loaded with a calcium supplement.
Sugar gliders need about 1 tablespoon of insects per day. Sugar gliders can also eat 1 teaspoon of cooked, lean, unseasoned poultry or beef as an occasional treat.
Fruit and Vegetables
Small amounts of fruit and vegetables are nutritious for sugar gliders; they add variety to their diets. According to veterinarian Lorraine A. Corriveau of Purdue University Teaching Hospital, sugar gliders in zoos eat apples, bananas, grapes, kiwi fruit, oranges, pears, melons, pawpaws and papayas. Vegetables sugar gliders eat in zoos include sweet potatoes, lettuce and corn. They can also eat tomatoes, carrots, squash, sprouts and broccoli.
Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, and chop them into small pieces before offering them to sugar gliders. About a half-teaspoon of fruit and vegetables per day is sufficient for one sugar glider.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar gliders require a varied diet to provide all the nutrients they need, but there are also many foods they should not eat. Don't feed sugar gliders wild insects, worms, spiders or other creatures that may be contaminated with pesticides. Also avoid apple seeds and fruit pits.
Other foods that shouldn't be included in sugar glider diets are artificially sweetened, deep fried or processed foods, or foods high in fat or sugar, such as chocolate.