Sugar gliders are some of the most unique pets out there. If you get one of these adorable pets with giant eyes, you’ll be the talk of the town!
However, one of the downsides of having exotic pets is that it is harder to find information about taking care of that animal (or even veterinarians that can help you out if there is an issue). You don’t want to accidentally make your sugar glider sick by keeping it in the wrong habitat or feeding it the wrong food.
A captive sugar glider’s diet is going to look a bit different from its wild cousins. Your domesticated sugar glider will probably eat a lot of vegetables.
Which vegetables are safe for sugar gliders to eat, and which ones should you keep at home? Here is a rule of thumb for preparing salad for your flying friend.
Safe Vegetables for Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders can eat most vegetables that humans do. When preparing your sugar glider’s meal plan, be sure to create a precise balance of nutrients.
Sugar gliders need certain vitamins and minerals more than humans do. Here is a guide to the vegetables your sugar glider can eat based on nutritional value.
One of the most important nutrients for sugar gliders is calcium. Calcium is important for building strong bones. One of the most common health problems for sugar gliders is metabolic bone disease, which is most common in younger animals that don’t eat a balanced diet.
It doesn’t help that many vegetables are high in phosphorus, which leaches calcium out of the system. To keep your sugar glider healthy, be sure to feed it many vegetables that are high in calcium.
Leafy greens are some of the best sources of calcium for sugar gliders and for humans. Usually, the darker the green, the higher it is in calcium. Some of the best vegetables for sugar gliders are spinach, kale, and bitter greens such as mustard greens.
Other calcium-heavy vegetables include cabbage, green beans, and okra. You can also serve broccoli but in moderation. These vegetables should make up the bulk of your sugar glider’s diet.
Most of us humans are not used to thinking of vegetables as sweet because we’re spoiled by the selection of chocolate and artificially flavored desserts available to us. However, to a sugar glider, the natural sweetness of vegetables is the equivalent of candy to a kid.
Your sugar glider will love having a few pieces of sweet potato to chew on during mealtimes. Sweet potato is naturally sweet but does not contain any harmful chemicals for the sugar glider.
Another sweet vegetable that sugar gliders love is the humble carrot. These roots have a delicate natural sweetness and the animals like crunching on them.
Sweeter root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots are perfectly safe for sugar gliders. However, if you feed your glider too many sweet vegetables, you will spoil its appetite for other veggies and it may miss out on valuable nutrients, especially calcium. Try to keep sweeter vegetables to a minimum or only give them to your glider as treats.
Sugar gliders can eat most vegetables, giving you plenty of options if you want to switch up your pet’s diet so it doesn’t get bored, or you can’t find the exact vegetable that you wanted to buy at the grocery store.
Crunchy green vegetables such as peas, string beans, and green beans will be a hit with your sugar glider.
You can rotate out vegetables seasonally for your pet. Do you like chowing down on bountiful summer vegetables from the farmer’s market? So will your sugar glider if you share juicy summer tomatoes and late August corn with it. In the fall, chop up some squash to serve as a treat.
Your sugar glider probably doesn’t care about the aesthetics of its meal as long as it gets fed on time, but if you feel like being creative, you can add pops of color to its vegetable plate. Serve up chunks of colorful bell pepper, cooked beets, cooked eggplant, or even cooked pumpkin.
How to Serve Vegetables to Your Sugar Glider
Now that you know which vegetables are safe for sugar gliders, how can you serve them to your little pet?
Sugar gliders are fine with fresh or frozen vegetables, just let the frozen vegetables thaw before giving it to your pet. Avoid canned or preserved vegetables because they have added sugars and other materials that are harmful to sugar gliders.
Some people wonder if they have to buy organic vegetables for their pets. You can if you want to, but the price of organic vegetables will add up, even when you’re feeding an animal as small as a sugar glider! Just be sure to thoroughly wash the vegetables before feeding it to your sugar glider to get rid of any pesticides and you should be fine.
Before serving any vegetables to your sugar glider, fresh or frozen, chop them up into small pieces. These small animals don’t have very powerful jaws and you don’t want your poor sugar glider to be stuck in front of a meal it can’t eat.
How Often Can Sugar Gliders Eat Vegetables?
Most pet guides recommend feeding sugar gliders twice a day, once in the early morning and once in the evening, to replicate their natural circadian rhythms. They can eat vegetables daily—most pet guides recommend serving the vegetables at night.
When you give your sugar gliders their daily serving of vegetables, be sure to take away any leftovers the next day and give them a fresh serving. Sugar gliders don’t operate like human children where you make them eat their leftovers, so they learn their lesson. Rotting food in their habitat could make them sick and definitely will make for an unpleasant living environment for you.
How Much Vegetables Can Sugar Gliders Eat?
Sugar gliders are tiny animals so they don’t eat a lot of vegetables—which will save you money on your grocery bills! Most guides recommend feeding your glider two tablespoons of vegetables per day, or one tablespoon of vegetables and one tablespoon of fruits.
Of course, that’s not the only thing your glider will eat—even a tiny animal such as a sugar glider will starve on such little food. You should supplement its diet with protein or a dedicated sugar glider pet food such as HPW.
What Vegetables Should Sugar Gliders Avoid?
Sugar gliders can eat most vegetables, meaning that when you make yourself a salad it’s easy enough to make a smaller one for your pet. However, there are a few plants that are perfectly safe for humans but could make your sugar glider quite ill.
Sugar gliders cannot eat any alliums. Alliums is a family of aromatic vegetables that includes onions and garlic. In fact, onions and garlic are dangerous for almost all pets because the plants contain toxic substances that hurt pets such as cats, dogs, and sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders should never eat rhubarb either. Although rhubarb is technically not a vegetable, many people confuse it for one, so don’t accidentally give it to your glider. The plant contains oxalates that could be dangerous for your sugar glider.
You also shouldn’t give your sugar glider raw lima beans. If you want to serve your pet something from the bean family, opt for green beans or peas instead.
There are some vegetables that are not necessarily harmful to sugar gliders, but don’t offer much benefit either. Iceberg lettuce has little to no nutritional value, so cut up a leafy green with calcium for your sugar glider instead. Your glider also shouldn’t have too many vegetables that are high in phosphorus, including broccoli.
What Do Sugar Gliders Eat in the Wild?
The diet of a sugar glider hanging out in your home will be very different from its wild cousins.
In the Australian bush, which is their native habitat, sugar gliders primarily eat insects, nectar, pollen, and sap from eucalyptus and acacia trees. While you can replicate this diet for your sugar glider somewhat, for example by feeding it captive insects, a perfect reproduction is impossible.
That’s why sugar gliders in captivity eat primarily prepared pellets and other pet foods designed to give them the same nutrients as their wild diet, along with supplemental fruits and vegetables.
Sugar Gliders and Vegetables
Sugar gliders need a few tablespoons of vegetables daily to supplement their diet of prepared pet food. Luckily, these omnivorous creatures have wide-ranging tastes even when it comes to vegetables and will eat almost any vegetables.
Serve them crunchy produce such as beet tops, seasonal delights such as squash, and even some colorful cooked produce such as eggplant.
When putting together a vegetable plate for your sugar glider, just make sure that you have plenty of vegetables that are high in calcium and only a few sweet ones such as carrots to avoid the sugar glider equivalent of gorging on junk food.
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.