Sugar Gliders are omnivores which means they eat a variety of food sources in their natural diet! When we replicate this diet in captivity, it's important to include a wide range of nutrients that can be obtained from a combination of fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, as well as the necessary supplements.
They get their name - "sugar" gliders - from their wild diet which includes nectar and tree saps! While these food items aren't actually very rich in "sugar", they are packed with nutrients that are essential to a sugar gliders' diet. Gliders are very active animals with a high metabolism. It's important that we feed them a proper balance in nutrients, replicating their complex natural diet as best as possible and not overloading our suggies with processed diets and sugary foods! Daily vitamins are essential to supplementing some of those nutrients like bee pollen that gliders would be obtaining in the wild. Another way that you can mimic their wild diet is by feeding insects! It’s a huge part of their diet in the wild, and a great boost of protein that your babies will really enjoy. Gliders in the wild will eat more bugs during their breeding season. During winter when bugs are off reproducing, gliders will eat more tree saps and nectar.
Below is a list of some safe insects to feed your gliders:
Dubia Roaches - Good amount of protein and less fat (the best overall nutritional value for gliders)
Crickets - Feed with caution as they are known to have *aflatoxin*
Waxworms - Very high in fat and protein
Superworms - Higher in fat than mealworms. Feed with caution since they have teeth and can bite the inside of your gliders
Mealworms - High in fat. This is what we feed our gliders since they are easiest to obtain and a favorite for many! Feed approximately 10 per day
Freeze dried/dehydrated bugs lack in nutritional value. While you can feed it to your gliders as a treat, most gliders will prefer the live bugs.
Gliders won’t eat bugs? This is normal if your glider has never been exposed to an insect before. They’ll be unsure on what to do and most likely won’t eat it. Sugar gliders learn from behavior (normally it’s from their parents or an older glider). If you would like to get your glider interested in eating bugs, you’ll need to either mash it up with their regular food or pop open one bug to allow your gliders to see and smell it better.
Remember, feeding your gliders insects is more of a treat than a meal. It is a good source of protein, but feed in moderation. Follow the TPG diet with regular portions of protein measured into their daily meals to ensure a constant balance in your gliders' diet. DO NOT feed any wild insects that may be contaminated with pesticides. Always purchase your bugs from a reputable distributor.
*Aflatoxin is mold that grows in corn/corn cob/corn meal products. It is mostly bedding used for insects, especially crickets. The crickets will consume the corn and the mold is bind to their DNA, it is lethal for gliders to consume crickets that have aflatoxin. This is why you need to purchase your insects from a farm that doesn’t use corn bedding.