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Sugar Gliders 

 Exotic Pet / Vet Smart Fact Series - Sugar Gliders

Don't let the name fool you ... Sugar Gliders do not have a diet consisting mainly of fruit, or sugar.  These nocturnal marsupials are considered both insectivorous, and carnivorous, which means that you'll need to feed them a wide variety of insects, meats, fruits and vegetables.

They can quite easily become deficient in Calcium and Vitamins, so the absolute best live insect feeder for them will be the Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL)

Note: BSFL are the only live feeder with an almost ideal Calcium-to-Phosphorous 1.75-to-1 ratio (2-to-1 ration is the ideal), and they need NO feeding or cleaning, and will keep for weeks in a cool spot.  The absolute easiest live feeder for you to keep and the healthiest for your pet to eat.

 Who Should Own a Sugar Glider?

Sugar gliders are generally not recommended for children or teenagers. Because they are exotic animals, taking care of a sugar glider is more complicated than owning domestic pets like dogs or cats. It is very important to do research on the care of these animals before purchasing one.

As an exotic animal, sugar gliders are illegal to have as pets in some states, provinces and/or municipalities. Because of this, some veterinarians will not treat sugar gliders. Due to their specific dietary needs, it is important to realize that sugar gliders are expensive to purchase and to keep. 

Sugar gliders are social animals so it is much preferable to own a pair of them, not just one living alone by itself, since they will be much happier living with a buddy.

Natural Sugar Glider Diets

Don’t let the name trick you: sugar gliders do not have diets consisting mainly of fruit or sugar. these animals are considered both insectivores and omnivores, which means they eat a variety of insects, meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Why is insect/animal protein in your Glider's diet important?

Diets using insect protein as the primary staple (as opposed to vegetable proteins such as found in soy or corn) contain a better balance of essential amino acids that help your gliders to maintain optimum health and to thrive - not just survive!  Insects eaten in their natural environment provide a balance of amino acids which cannot easily be reproduced in prepared pet foods, no matter how good they may be.  This is why the BSFL is so important!

Sugar Gliders Diets

The 'Black Soldier Fly larvae' is the ideal live insect feeder for Sugar gliders
Nutritional Values: Calcium/Phosphorous Ratio Comparison
Live FeederCricketsBSFLSilkwormButterwormWaxwormSuperwormMealworm
Fat %
Protein %21.317.329.614.814.817.420.3
Calcium (ppm)34579176651197134124133
Phosphorous (ppm)432853557981729119723203345
Cal/Ph Ratio0.081.430.830.690.110.530.08
The chart reveals that BSFL and Silkworms are by far  the two best live feeders available today

Commercial diets are available for sugar gliders in the form of an extruded protein pellet. Other options for protein sources are small amounts of cooked chicken or mealworms and crickets, which can be purchased at many pet stores. Fresh fruits and vegetables should also be offered in small amounts. A suggested diet for your sugar glider includes one of each of these 3 categories:

  • 1 Tbsp commercial small carnivore/insectivore mix
  • 1 Tbsp commercial nectar mix or Leadbeater’s mixture
  • ½ tsp fresh vegetables (tomatoes, carrot, squash) or greens (sprouts, broccoli)

Common Nutritional Problems

Low Calcium: A diet low in calcium can lead to problems with bones or teeth.  Insects in the sugar glider diet do not offer much calcium, so you should plan to feed a commercially available calcium supplement before offering any insects; this will improve calcium intake.  Fruits and vegetables are also low in calcium and high in phosphorus.  Sugar glider diets need to be balanced, so avoid over-feeding of fruits or vegetables.

The BSFL is the ONLY live insect feeder that is High in Calcium and also Low in Phosphorous, making it the ideal insect for your sugar glider. BSFL require zero maintenance (NO feeding or cleaning ever), and keep for weeks in your fridge door (butter keeper) or wine cooler, so you no longer have to run out to your local pet store every week for crickets. 

Obesity: As with other species of animals, obesity predisposes sugar gliders to health problems.  The biggest mistake sugar glider owners make in feeding their pets is believing that the diet should be high in sugar.  This is incorrect.  A diet with too much sugar and fat can lead to obesity and breeding problems.  Fly pupae and mealworms are high in fat and should only make up a small part of your sugar glider’s diet.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Foods with artificial sweeteners
  • Fruit pits and apple seeds
  • Foods high in fat or refined sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Deep fried or processed foods

When and How to Feed

Like other nocturnal animals, sugar gliders are active at night, so feeding your sugar glider at dusk is recommended.  If your sugar glider appears hungry during the day you may offer a small amount of food in the morning (1/4–1/3 of the daily ration), with the larger portion given at night.

Sugar gliders are arborial (live in trees) in the wild and like having their food up high.  Therefore, food bowls should be mounted toward the top of their cage.

Making sure that your sugar glider eats different types of foodstuffs will help yin providing a balanced diet.  Be sure your sugar glider eats all of the food you offer and doesn’t just pick out certain parts.  One way to do this is by finely chopping the ingredients and mixing the food well.


Sugar gliders are social animals so it is best to have two as companions.  Because they jump and climb, height is an important consideration when making a cage.  A typical cage is 2 feet wide by 2 feet long and 3 feet in height.  Toys, branches, ropes and ladders all allow for climbing and exercise.  The cage wire should be less than ½” wide and have a secure latch.  A layer of shavings on the bottom of the cage is also recommended.  The shavings should be aspen or fir, never cedar, and should be cleaned out at least twice a week.  A sugar glider’s cage should be out of direct sunlight and the temperature kept between 70˚ to 90˚F.

References and Further Reading

Veterinary Medical Center

College of Veterinary Medicine

Michigan State University

Prepared for the Veterinary Medical Center by Travis Reed, Class of 2009

 What are Sugar Gliders?

Sugar gliders are small marsupial animals from Australia and New Guinea. Although they do have a gliding membrane between front and back legs, they are not related to flying squirrels. They are nocturnal animals, which means they are most active at night.

Sugar gliders measure about 5 to 6 inches from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail; and their tail is another 5 to 6 inches in length. Typical colorings are gray or brown, with a black stripe from the nose to the base of the tail and a white underside. Male sugar gliders can weigh up to 200 grams while females generally weigh 110 grams. They can live up to 12 to 15 years in captivity and usually 5 to 7 years in the wild.

Sugar gliders are social animals so it is much preferable to own a pair of them, not just one living alone by itself, since they will be much happier living with a buddy.

Are Sugar Gliders the Right Pet For You?

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Sugar Gliders 

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