Diets & Treats

DIET TIPS

As with any animal, gliders need a balanced diet. When choosing a diet, pick one that will be healthy for them, and one that has clear, easy to follow instructions. We do not recommend feeding a diet that is based solely on owner judgment or convenience. We recommend following one of the three diet plans below. Additionally, one key consideration in choosing a glider diet is dental health. Many of the diets that are recommended by some sugar glider owners lead to horrible and deadly dental disease later in life. This can be avoided, and it is with this in mind that we recommend the diets below. You can read more about sugar glider dental disease here

Sugar Glider Guardians - Sugar Glider Diet
  • Gliders need at least two functional sources of fresh, plain water available to them at all times, regardless of diet. 
  • This is critical for your gliders survival. This can be in the form of water bottles (assuming your glider knows how to drink from a bottle), small water dishes, water silos, or a combination of those.
  • Fresh produce (feeding only fruits and vegetables) is not nutritionally adequate for your glider. Gliders need a variety of vitamins, and they also need protein and calcium. While fresh produce is a great part of any diet, feeding fresh produce by itself will lead to deterioration and malnutrition of sugar gliders. We highly recommend using a diet below.
  • Gliders are especially prone to dental problems such as tooth decay and dental abscesses. These can sometimes be diet-related if gliders are not getting enough calcium or if their diet has too much sugar. This is why we strongly recommend against diets where we have seen a high incidence of dental disease later in life. Currently, and in our personal experience, those diets we recommend against include TPG and OHPW, and some other less common homemade frozen or liquid diets.
  • Gliders need to be fed once per day. Most owners feed their gliders in the evening, and remove the leftover food and dishes the following morning. Start with fresh food and fresh dishes every day.
Sugar Glider Guardians - Sugar Glider Diet
  • If you are finding that your cage and walls are becoming messy/smelly, try using a large plastic pet igloo over the food, or a cage cover.
  • Food aggression: sometimes gliders fight over food. This is known as food aggression. You’ll need to take steps to remedy this, including adding another food dish on the opposite side of the cage. You can read more about it here: (coming soon)
  • Gliders sometimes extract the nutrients out of their food by chewing it, sucking the juice out, and then spitting the harder parts out. Especially if you feed a kibble-based diet, you will notice small, flattened flakes of food left. Those are the pieces they have already eaten, and those pieces should be discarded.
  • Gliders are omnivores, and can eat pretty much anything you can eat, with a few exceptions. Do not feed them chocolate, uncooked beans, onions/garlic, or artificial sweeteners.

DIETS WE RECOMMEND

There are many opinions on sugar glider diets, and there is not much concrete scientific research to give us answers as to the ideal diet for sugar gliders in captivity (although The Sugar Glider Foundation is working on this very issue, and you can read more about their work here). With that being said, some diets have worked well for many years for many owners, have a seemingly low incidence of dental disease, and we can recommend them as confidently as we could recommend any diet. Here are the ones we recommend:

TYPE: Purchased
 
NOTES: This diet comes veterinarian recommended. It combines the stability of a kibble with the variety and flexibility of your choice of produce. 
 
RECIPE
•  2 Tbsp Happy Glider kibble per glider per night. Discard unused kibble from the previous night. 
•  0.5 to 1 Tbsp per glider of ONE fresh fruit OR vegetable per night, choices include but are not limited to: green beans, carrots, peas, kiwi, apple, tomato, citrus, spinach, bell pepper, avocado, berries, melon, bok choy, sweet potato, cucumber, broccoli, etc. The goal is to achieve a wide variety of produce over many nights, while not feeding so much produce that the gliders do not eat the kibble. If they don’t eat the kibble, you are feeding too much produce. Try to feed veggies slightly more often. Avoid onions or garlic. 
•  A generous serving of flavored Greek yogurt once a week, in place of the fresh fruit or veggie.  (Noosa or Greek Gods brand recommended)
•  1 Tbsp per glider of protein a couple times a month such as cooked egg or cooked ground turkey without butter or seasoning, in place of the fresh fruit or veggie.
•  Always have two sources of fresh, filtered water per cage! This is critical!
* Check the flow mechanism when taking food dishes out and putting food in.
 

LINK: Kibble can be purchased at https://www.pet-pro.com/collections/sugar-glider-food. Any flavor kibble will work (I find the fruity flavor to be popular), and use “Alea” in the referral box for a discount at shipping! The proceeds from the commission go to help fund the sugar glider nutrition study.

 

Alea’s Happy Glider Diet Plan FAQ:

Why a kibble-based diet?
A kibble based diet can provide adequate nutrition for your gliders, with the added benefit of promoting dental health. Dental health is extremely important to consider. We see so many gliders who suffer and die from years of dental disease, and we see this especially with the sloppy/frozen diets. For more information on dental health, visit our Dental Health blog post
Aren’t gliders sap suckers? Don’t they need a soft sugary diet? They are called SUGAR gliders!
Sugar Gliders are omnivores. In the wild, they do eat some tree sap. However, they also eat bugs, small birds or other small animals, and some plants (generally not fruits, though). In the wild, they have the benefit of getting at least some crunchy food – they don’t just eat frozen mush or sap, and they do not need a lot of sugar (honey, fruit), nor is it healthy for them. A soft, sugary diet is not healthy for sugar gliders, and unfortunately, they are named for what the like to eat, not what is healthy for them. 
It seems like my glider is not eating the kibble?
The most common reason that gliders do not eat the kibble is because they have too many or too much of something else to eat, something else that is probably tastier or higher in sugar. Adhere to the diet plan, which calls for a small amount of one item of produce per night. The goal is for them to eat the kibble, so they need to be hungry enough to do that after they have already eaten the other thing you have offered. The question about transitioning to the diet (below) has a few more helpful tips to try. 
How can I transition to this diet?
To transition, you can offer just the kibble for a few nights with a small amount of your old diet on top for flavor and familiarity, until they get used to the kibble. You can also try pouring a bit of apple juice onto the kibble, or, for gliders with dental disease, wetting the kibble with water to make it a bit softer. If you feed too much produce with this diet, the gliders will avoid the kibble and fill up on the produce. Follow the diet plan, which calls for only a small amount of produce. 
TYPE: Homemade OR Purchased, depending on whether you choose the homemade version or the kibble version. Both are good. We prefer the kibble version because it is easier and we believe it has the added benefit of being good for dental health. The homemade version is made with ingredients that you can find in most pet stores and grocery stores. 
 
NOTES: A great diet! Served with specific fruits and vegetables. You can find the creator’s feeding notes here: http://bmldiet.com/feeding-notes.html.
 
PURCHASE: To purchase the kibble, you visit the White Oak Gliders Shop. 
 
RECIPE LINK for HOMEMADEBMLdiet.com
 
 
TYPE: Purchased, then mixed at home
 
NOTES: This diet actually has two diet plans – Critter Love Complete (just add water), and Critter Love Plus (additional ingredients are needed). The diet plan also includes salads. You can find more information about Critter Love diet plans here: https://www.critterlove.com/the-critter-love-diet-plan
 
TYPE: Purchased
 
NOTES: This diet comes veterinarian recommended. It combines the stability of a kibble with the variety and flexibility of your choice of produce. 
 
RECIPE
•  2 Tbsp Happy Glider kibble per glider per night. Discard unused kibble from the previous night. 
•  0.5 to 1 Tbsp per glider of ONE fresh fruit OR vegetable per night, choices include but are not limited to: green beans, carrots, peas, kiwi, apple, tomato, citrus, spinach, bell pepper, avocado, berries, melon, bok choy, sweet potato, cucumber, broccoli, etc. The goal is to achieve a wide variety of produce over many nights, while not feeding so much produce that the gliders do not eat the kibble. Try to feed veggies slightly more often. Avoid onions or garlic. 
•  A generous serving of flavored Greek yogurt once a week, in place of the fresh fruit or veggie.  (Noosa or Greek Gods brand recommended)
•  1 Tbsp per glider of protein a couple times a month such as cooked egg or cooked ground turkey without butter or seasoning, in place of the fresh fruit or veggie.
•  Always have two sources of fresh, filtered water per cage! This is critical!
 
* Check the flow mechanism when taking food dishes out and putting food in.
 
LINK: Kibble can be purchased at https://www.pet-pro.com/collections/sugar-glider-food. Any flavor kibble will work, and use “Alea” in the referral box for a discount at shipping! The proceeds from the commission go to help fund the sugar glider nutrition study.
 

Alea’s Happy Glider Diet Plan FAQ:

Why a kibble-based diet?
A kibble based diet can provide adequate nutrition for your gliders, with the added benefit of promoting dental health. Dental health is extremely important to consider. We see so many gliders who suffer and die from years of dental disease, and we see this especially with the sloppy/frozen diets. For more information on dental health, visit our Dental Health blog post
Aren’t gliders sap suckers? Don’t they need a soft sugary diet? They are called SUGAR gliders!
Sugar Gliders are omnivores. In the wild, they do eat some tree sap. However, they also eat bugs, small birds or other small animals, and some plants (generally not fruits, though). In the wild, they have the benefit of getting at least some crunchy food – they don’t just eat frozen mush or sap, and they do not need a lot of sugar (honey, fruit), nor is it healthy for them. A soft, sugary diet is not healthy for sugar gliders, and unfortunately, they are named for what the like to eat, not what is healthy for them. 
It seems like my glider is not eating the kibble?
The most common reason that gliders do not eat the kibble is because they have too many or too much of something else to eat, something else that is probably tastier or higher in sugar. Adhere to the diet plan, which calls for a small amount of one item of produce per night. The goal is for them to eat the kibble, so they need to be hungry enough to do that after they have already eaten the other thing you have offered. The question about transitioning to the diet (below) has a few more helpful tips to try. 
How can I transition to this diet?
To transition, you can offer just the kibble for a few nights with a small amount of your old diet on top for flavor and familiarity, until they get used to the kibble. You can also try pouring a bit of apple juice onto the kibble, or, for gliders with dental disease, wetting the kibble with water to make it a bit softer. If you feed too much produce with this diet, the gliders will avoid the kibble and fill up on the produce. Follow the diet plan, which calls for only a small amount of produce. 
TYPE: Homemade OR Purchased, depending on whether you choose the homemade version or the kibble version. Both are good. We prefer the kibble version because it is easier and we believe it has the added benefit of being good for dental health. The homemade version is made with ingredients that you can find in most pet stores and grocery stores. 
 
NOTES: A great diet! Served with specific fruits and vegetables. You can find the creator’s feeding notes here: http://bmldiet.com/feeding-notes.html.
 
PURCHASE: To purchase the kibble, you visit the White Oak Gliders Shop. 
 
RECIPE LINK for HOMEMADEBMLdiet.com
 
TYPE: Purchased, then mixed at home
 
NOTES: This diet actually has two diet plans – Critter Love Complete (just add water), and Critter Love Plus (additional ingredients are needed). The diet plan also includes salads. You can find more information about Critter Love diet plans here: https://www.critterlove.com/the-critter-love-diet-plan
 

TREATS AND OTHER EDIBLES

Here are a few treats we like to use for gliders. Please note that treats are to be used in moderation. 

  • Live mealworms or other insects such as crickets or hornworms
  • White mini marshmallows
  • White baking chips (no chocolate)
  • Taro fish snack treats
  • pine nuts
  • almond slivers
  • dried fruit
  • dried coconut
  • sunflower seeds
  • honey sticks