What do sugar gliders eat?

I know you’ve all been dying to read another post about my darling new pets. At any rate, I’ve been dying to write a post about them. Unfortunately, I have yet to get some really awesome photos that are truly worthy of their adorableness. So in the meantime, I’ll tell you about my exploits as an amateur zookeeper.

In the exotic pet world, diet for sugar gliders is a contentious topic with potentially serious implications. One of the most common hazards for pet sugar gliders (right up there with drowning in toilets and accidents with other pets) is calcium deficiency, which can cause paralysis and even death.

Naturally, before I got my gliders I did a lot of research online about diets. In the wild, sugar gliders eat a variety of sap and gum, nectar and pollen, honeydew, and insects. Needless to say, this is a somewhat difficult diet to replicate in captivity.

What you can find in most pet stores as far as glider food usually comes in the form of pellets. These are an O.K. occasional snack, but not a great staple food. Here’s the brand I got, along with the other snacks my gliders like: dried papaya, pumpkin seeds, and (ewww!) mealworms. These are the things I hand-feed them when they’re out playing. I also carry a few with me when I’m carrying my gliders around during the day, in case they need a pick-me-up.

But for an everyday meal staple, gilders need something different. There are several well-regarded sugar glider diet “recipes” out there. The one I picked is called the HPW diet. It’s an American version of a diet based on “High Protein Wombaroo” powder from Australia. Here’s what goes into it:

I scramble the eggs, then put them in the blender with the HPW powder, pollen, honey, and water. Then I freeze it. The great thing about it is that it freezes soft, so you can scoop it out like ice cream. HPW also comes in a version called “Complete HPW,” to which you just add water.

Along with their “protein shake,” my little gliders eat vegetables and fruits. At least in theory. In practice, they will often refuse to eat any fruits and vegetables (although they like avocado). Fortunately, as a mother this is not new to me.

I’ve been just giving them whatever fruits and vegetables we happen to eat in a day, since they eat such a tiny amount (a couple of tablespoons each, if that). But the HPW diet prescribes a certain combination of fruits and veggies that have a good calcium to phosphorus ratio. So today I finally got around to mixing it up. Here are the fresh components, which got mixed in with frozen berries, peas, beans, and mixed vegetables.

Yes, behind the vegetables is the huge pasta pot I ended up mixing it in, because the recipe makes a TON, and it quickly overflowed from my popcorn bowl. Everything was cut up into glider-bite-sized pieces.

Actually, those pieces (which are fairly finely diced) are the size of a large apple to a glider. It takes them about a dozen bites to eat a raisin. So cute. Then I divided it up in freezer bags.

I now have what must be a year supply of glider food in my freezer. I had so much, in fact, that I thought I’d whip up a green smoothie for myself with it.

It tasted . . . O.K. I’m going to try blending it up for the gliders tonight, to see if they find their fruits and veggies more palatable in smoothie form. And voilà! Dinner is served.

Bon appetit, Merry and Pippin!

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