Sugar Glider Care
Dr. Alondra Martin
Some special considerations in keeping sugar gliders healthy involve both their nutritional and environmental requirements. It is important to realize that improper nutrition leads to the majority of deaths of sugar gliders. The following are several tried and true captive diets: 50 ml of warm water
Leadbeater's Mixture Diet
50% Leadbeater's Mixture (see recipe below)
50% Insectivore/Carnivore Diets (Suppliers are Reliable Protein Products (760-321-7533), Mazuri brand (314-768-4592), and Zupreem (800-345-4767).
50 ml of honey
1 shelled hard boil egg
5 grams high protein baby cereal
1 teaspoon vitamin/mineral supplement i.e. Vionate, Reptivite, Rep-Cal (phosphorus free)
Blend well and refrigerate until needed.
Chicago Zoological Park Diet
1 teaspoon each: apple, carrot, sweet potato, banana, leaf lettuce
½ hardboiled egg yolk
1 tablespoon of Nebraska feline diet(Zupreem or Mazuri are also acceptable)
1 dozen meal worms that have been properly fed
Taronga Zoo Diet
3 grams each: apple, banana, corn, grapes, kiwi, sweet potato, orange, pear, melon
1.5 grams-Premium dog food
1 teaspoon fly pupae
2 teaspoons Leadbeater's mix (see above recipe)
Sugar glider pellets are also now available. It is called Accu-Feed for Gliders and is manufactured by Brisky Pet Products. Call 1-800-294-1202 or go to www.brisky.com for further information on this new product. As with all new exotic animal diets, this diet should not be fed exclusively but in moderation and mixed with the "normal" diets listed above.
The cage should measure at least 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches. Large, upright commercial birdcages often meet these specifications. Multiple nesting boxes need to be provided for the gliders to sleep in during the day. Some simple ideas that have been used are wooden bird nest boxes, a small cardboard box, a cloth pouch with a slit in front that is then anchored to the side of the cage, and a plastic hamster house.
Bedding within the "nest" is optional but if used can be made of plain shredded paper or aspen wood shavings (note that cedar shavings can be toxic). Alternatively, a sock or cloth can also be placed within the nest. The nest boxes should be cleaned out at least twice weekly and the cage should be cleaned out daily of obvious messes and thoroughly cleaned weekly with a disinfectant. All furnishings should be included in this cleaning.
The cage needs to be out of direct sunlight because these animals are sensitive to warmer temperatures. Temperatures higher than 88 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to hyperthermia, which can be life threatening. Ideally, the sugar glider's environment should be somewhere between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is conveniently about room temperature.
Furnishings that are necessary for exercise and environmental enrichment are climbing branches that are non-toxic in origin, such as elm, oak and hickory or any type of wood rated as safe for birds. An elevated exercise wheel is a strongly recommended addition. It needs to a solid wheel, not one made from wires, to ensure that their feet and tail remain safe from injury.
Water can be offered from a sipper-type bottle, a non-tip dish or a clip-on bird dish placed in an elevated part of the cage. Their food can be offered from a flat-bottomed, non-tip dish that can be affixed to the wire of the cage. These dishes need to be cleaned out daily and ideally disinfected to prevent bacterial overgrowth given the unique dietary requirements of these animals.
Recommended Reading Material
Sugar Gliders: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Caroline MacPherson