Sugar gliders, also known as sugar bears and honey gliders, are delicate and cute. Anyone will enjoy having them around the house as pets.
They’re curious and playful around their caretakers. However, they’re not low-maintenance pets.
Unlike most pets, sugar gliders need extra special care, especially when it comes to the type of food you’re feeding them.
Sugar gliders are omnivores, which means they can eat both animal and plant matter. The problem is that certain types of food can be toxic or harmful to your cute little friends.
So, you’re probably wondering: what foods are harmful to sugar gliders? And what can you feed your sugar bears to keep them healthy and meet their bodies’ needs?
You don’t need to worry! In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to feed and what not to feed your little buddies. Let’s dive in.
Certain foods can be harmful to your sugar gliders. Some types of foods can harm your sugar gliders in the long term, while other types of food can cause immediate health problems.
That’s why you always need to make sure not to leave those foods lying around your house if your sugar glider is roaming around. Here’s a list of harmful foods to sugar gliders:
Chocolate is one of the most harmful foods for sugar gliders. In fact, some chocolate components could be fatal to them.
First, almost all types of chocolate contain theobromine. Theobromine is a chemical compound that’s found in cacao, and it’s extremely toxic to honey gliders.
While not all chocolate contains the same amount of theobromine, you can’t be sure that the type of chocolate you feed them contains a tolerable amount.
Most chocolates contain high levels of sugar and fat, which can be harmful to your sugar gliders’ health.
Many chocolates contain high levels of caffeine. Sugar bears can’t handle caffeine at all.
Sugar bears are lactose intolerant. That means milk chocolates are also off the table as they contain dairy products. Lactose will disturb the gastrointestinal system of your gliders.
While white chocolate has trace amounts of theobromine, you still should never feed it to your honey gliders. It’s extremely high in fats and sugar, which can lead to obesity in sugar gliders. Obesity is harmful to your little friends.
The bottom line is that you should never provide sugar gliders with any type of chocolate.
When it comes to dairy, gliders are lactose intolerant. So, milk and some dairy products aren’t suitable for them.
Both cow’s milk and goat’s milk aren’t suitable for gliders. They aren’t fatal, but they should be avoided.
Unpasteurized milk is even more unhealthy. It could contain many types of harmful bacteria, like salmonella.
Lactose-free milk and formulas may be a more suitable option.
Surprisingly, sugar gliders can tolerate the lactose in small amounts of yogurt, as it contains a more digestible form that doesn’t harm your gliders.
Cheese is also not suitable for your gliders. Aside from the fact that it contains lactose, it also contains high amounts of salt. So, cheese should be completely avoided.
Ice cream can be harmful to sugar gliders, as it contains both sugar and dairy.
Despite their name, sugar gliders should never be given sweets, candies, sweetened juices, or desserts. High amounts of sugar can be fatal for your little pets.
Sweeteners and sugar substitutes are just as harmful as normal sugar. So, make sure not to serve any sweetened food to sugar bears.
Any form of caffeinated beverage can be fatal to gliders. That includes tea, coffee, soft drinks, or energy drinks.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential in a healthy diet for sugar gliders. However, some fruits and vegetables should be downright avoided.
Here’s a list of the fruits and vegetables you should absolutely avoid giving to your honey gliders:
Both onion and garlic contain thiosulfate, which can be life-threatening for sugar gliders.
Thiosulfate causes damage to the red blood cells of sugar gliders, which can lead to a disease called hemolytic anemia. It happens after losing excessive amounts of red blood cells, so it can be fatal to sugar gliders.
As a result, you should never feed onion or garlic to your sugar glider. Additionally, you need to make sure that any type of food you give to your gliders doesn’t contain traces of onion or garlic.
Rhubarb is toxic to sugar gliders, so it should be absolutely avoided. That’s because every part of the plant contains high concentrations of oxalic acid.
Unlike fresh fruit, canned fruit should never be offered to sugar gliders. In addition, you shouldn’t offer them the liquid in the can.
First, they contain excessive amounts of sugar. Also, they contain sodium and other types of preservatives. Those chemicals are harmful to your sugar glider.
So, you should always remove any seeds or pits from the fruit you’re offering to your little friends.
Sugar gliders are playful explorers. Just like human babies, sugar gliders will attempt to eat anything in front of them, especially if it’s sweet. That’s why it’s crucial not to leave any type of toxic food lying around.
The first thing you should do if your sugar glider ingested any of the food we’ve mentioned above is to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Moreover, you should contact your veterinarian if your sugar glider shows any of the following symptoms:
- Muscle spasms
The following types of foods aren’t necessarily harmful to sugar gliders if you offer them in safe, moderate amounts.
Fruits contain natural sugar in them, called fructose. While it’s safer than commercial sugar, it should still be in limited amounts.
Fruits should be given in moderate amounts, which depends on the weight of your sugar gliders.
While fruits with a high oxalate content aren’t toxic, they’re best given in smaller quantities. That’s because the oxalate binds to the calcium inside the sugar glider, causing illness in the long term.
These types of fruits include:
While nuts have many benefits, they contain a high amount of fat content. Still, they aren’t necessarily harmful to your sugar gliders.
A nutty treat from time to time won’t do any harm. Most sugar gliders love nuts.
One thing worth mentioning is that salted nuts aren’t recommended due to their high salt content. If you’re giving your little pet nuts, make sure they’re plain and unsalted.
Pork isn’t the best option if you want to treat your little buddy to some meat. Most pork products contain high levels of sodium nitrates. This chemical can be harmful to your gliders.
Additionally, pork contains high amounts of fat, which can lead to obesity and harm the digestive system of your sugar bears.
While lettuce doesn’t do any harm to sugar gliders, it doesn’t do any good either. That’s because lettuce has a low nutritional value.
It’ll just take up space in your little friend’s stomach. More importantly, lettuce may cause diarrhea due to its high fiber content.
There are many other vegetables that are more beneficial than lettuce. So, you should replace the lettuce in your glider’s diet with another glider-safe vegetable.
As we’ve previously mentioned, sugar gliders are omnivores. That means they eat a wide variety of food in nature.
As pets, sugar gliders need to be fed around 15-20% of their total body weight daily. Some veterinarians recommend that the daily sugar glider diet should consist of: 75% pellets, 20% fresh fruits or vegetables, and 5% treats.
Other veterinarians recommend dividing the meal into three equal parts. The first part should be a nectar/sap-based mixture, such as the Leadbeater’s mixture.
The second part should be a balanced pelleted kibble, and the last part can be either a few insects or glider-safe fresh fruits or vegetables. Both diets are healthy and will meet the needs of your honey gliders.
In other words, it doesn’t matter which diet you pick, as long as it includes the right amount of essential foods. These foods are:
- A nectar mixture, such as Leadbeater’s mixture
When it comes to protein, it must make up for around a third of your sugar glider’s daily intake. Pellets are the main source of protein that’s suitable for your little friends. They’ll need around 1/4 to 1/3 cups per day to meet their protein needs.
Occasionally, you can give them small pieces of plain, unseasoned, fully cooked lean meat or poultry. You can also offer them hard-boiled eggs, tofu, and a tiny amount of yogurt for a change.
This mixture was initially made for Leadbeater’s possums, hence the name. Surprisingly, they have similar nutritional needs to sugar gliders.
There are many Leadbeater’s mixture recipes that you can do. The Bourbon’s Modified Leadbeater’s sugar glider diet is one of the best recipes you can make for your sugar bears.
The following are the ingredients you’ll need:
- ¼ cup natural apple juice
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- ½ cup dry baby cereal
- 1 hard-boiled egg without the shell
- 4 oz. bottle of Gerber Mixed Fruit Juice & Yogurt Blends
- 1 teaspoon of blue-labeled Rep-Cal Herptivite Vitamin Supplement
- 2 jars of 0.5 oz chicken baby food
- 2 teaspoons of Rep-Cal Calcium Supplement, Non-Phosphorus with Vitamin D3 (the pink-labeled package)
After getting all the ingredients you need, follow these steps to prepare the sugar glider food:
- In a blender, add the egg, honey, and apple juice. Blend them until they become smooth.
- Turn off the blender and add the Gerber juice and the blue-labeled Rep-cal vitamins to the mix. Then blend again until smooth.
- Turn off the blender and add the pink-labeled Rep-cal calcium supplement, the wheat germ, the chicken baby food, and the dry baby cereal. Then, blend them until smooth.
- Grab a clean ice tray and fill each compartment halfway with the mixture
- Place the tray into the freezer
Here’s a list of fruits that are safe to add to your sugar glider’s diet:
- Passion fruit
Here’s a list of glider-safe vegetables you can add to your sugar glider’s diet:
It’s essential to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before offering them to sugar bears, as fruits and vegetables often carry trace amounts of pesticides on them. Sugar gliders are tiny, so the smallest amount of pesticides can be extremely harmful to them.
One thing worth mentioning is that tap water contains chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, which can harm sugar gliders. So, wash the fruits and vegetables with mineral water or spring water.
Not every food we eat is suitable for sugar gliders. Many types of food are extremely toxic and dangerous to sugar gliders. So, they should be completely avoided.
These foods include chocolates, dairy products, sweets, caffeinated drinks, onions, garlic, rhubarb, canned fruit, and any type of fruit or vegetable that might have traces of pesticides on them.
You should also wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly with mineral water or spring water. It might be a good idea to avoid vegetables and fruits that can’t be easily washed, like cauliflower and raspberries.
Some other types of food can be harmful to your sugar gliders if they eat too much of them, including fruits, nuts, and pork.
So, it’s best to keep all kinds of harmful food away from your sugar gliders. They’re playful creatures, and they won’t hesitate to try any food lying around.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.