Diet is one of the most controversial but highly important topics you will come across with owning sugar gliders and everyone has their own opinions on the subject. Like with any diet please do your own research and talk to your vets to decide which diet would work best for you and your sugar gliders. Each recipe has the link to the original website which will have the creator’s contact information if you would like to talk to them directly. If in doubt, you can try making a couple and see which one your gliders like best and also works well with your lifestyle/budget. There are more diet recipes than what we have listed here but these are the main staples that are typically recommended by most reputable breeders and have been proven through both research and time as both healthy and reliable diets.

Whichever diet you end up choosing, your gliders should maintain a 2:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio. A lack of calcium can lead to a condition called Hind Leg Paralysis (aka Hypocalcemia, Metabolic Bone Disease, or Nutritional Osteodystrophy) which is caused when the body steals calcium from the bones to make up for the lack of calcium needed for digestion and other metabolic processes in the body. As more calcium is stolen, the bones become thin and brittle to the point where they can’t support their own weight and your glider will gradually lose mobility starting with the hind legs. Hind Leg Paralysis is also usually accompanied by a parasitic or bacterial infection and if the condition is not addressed it can lead to death. If the condition is caught early enough your vet can prescribe an antibiotic or antiparasitic medicine as well as an oral calcium supplement to treat the condition. Alternatively, too much calcium can lead to kidney stones, gall stones, crystals in the urine, and calcium deposits on the joints, bones, organs, and muscles.

 

Important and Helpful Notes

No canned foods, chocolate/cocoa, coffee, cheese, catnip, fruit pits, apple seeds, lima beans, hot peppers, onions of any variety (chives, leeks, green onions, etc.), garlic, or rhubarb.

When switching over to a new diet, do so gradually so you don’t upset your glider’s stomach. Start with a little bit of the new diet with the normal amount of their current diet and over the period of a few days to a week gradually increase the amount of new diet and decrease the amount of old diet. Make sure your glider is eating the new diet before completely eliminating the old diet.

If giving frozen fruits/veggies/staple diet, let it sit out and defrost first. Your glider can get hypothermia if it eats too much frozen food at once. Scoop out your staple diet first so it can partially defrost while you prepare the fruits and vegetables. If you are in a rush, you can quickly defrost the fruits and veggies by soaking them in water for a few minutes. Do not defrost in the microwave. Stir the contents to make sure they are broken apart then drain out the water. Slice or dice the defrosted fruits/veggies and serve.

It helps to chop or slice up their fruits/veggies so it is easier for them to hold onto and so that there are several pieces of each food article just in case your gliders don’t like to share.

Do not feed insects from outside because you don’t know what those insects have been eating, walking in, or have been sprayed with. Better safe than sorry.

Do not substitute or make modifications to any of the recipes without first consulting the creators. Doing so will change the Calcium: Phosphorous ratios which can drastically unbalance your sugar glider’s diet and lead to health problems. The same goes for trying to make your own diet without professional help. All of these recipes have been formulated with the assistance of licensed veterinarians and have been thoroughly researched into their affects on sugar glider health. Please don’t play with your pet’s life just to make things more simple or convenient for yourself. It is not worth it.

Please tread carefully with newly formulated diet plans. New diets don’t have enough data on them to prove how they affect a sugar glider’s health.

Do not feed your sugar glider pellet food. Pellet food is low in calcium and protein and is in no way a complete or even healthy diet. Many gliders on pellet diets have cracked fur, easily susceptible to Hind Leg Paralysis, and are short-lived. Sugar gliders are also susceptible to choking and dying from trying to eat the pellets.

Do not purchase any sugar glider products from your local pet store such as the instant HPW powder because they are not the same as the original recipe. Do not purchase any staple diet recipes or even pellet recipes claiming to be a “complete” diet because they are lying to you. There is currently no complete diet that has hard evidence through research proving it to be a completely balanced diet. All of the currently approved diets have to be accompanied by an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and insects to make the diet successful and are backed up by actual lab research proving that they are indeed balanced and healthy for our pet sugar gliders. You can find an assortment of approved sugar glider diets through any glider forum and most trusted sugar glider sites will point you towards at least one approved diet recipe.

Sugar gliders are extremely messy eaters. The best way to contain most of their food mess is by using a Glider Kitchen. A Glider Kitchen is a plastic container such as a plastic shoe container with one or more holes drilled into the sides to allow gliders to go inside the container to get their food. Makes feeding and cleanup super easy.

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Main Diet Recipes

 

Original Leadbeaters Diet (For informational purposes only)

The Original Leadbeaters Diet was created by Des Hackett in 1971. Des Hackett is an Australian naturalist who was the first person to successfully breed the endangered Leadbeater’s possum in captivity. He formulated this diet for the Leadbeater’s possums and other marsupials at the Taronga Zoo in Australia. The Original Leadbeaters diet was only a small part of the complete diet which was never fully published and it wasn’t intended for pet sugar gliders. This made it hard for sugar glider owners to properly make a balanced diet at home. This diet is not possible to make in the U.S. because several ingredients cannot be found or efficiently imported into the United States. Because of this, you will find many popular diets fed in the U.S. are modifications that are based off of this diet to some extent. These modified recipes are to this day being continually modified and researched to further develop into complete and nutritionally balanced diets for our sugar gliders.

Ingredients

450 ml (~2 cups) Warm Water
450 ml (~2 cups) Honey
3 Boiled eggs with shell removed
75g (~5 Tablespoons) High-Protein baby cereal (The U.S. doesn’t have baby cereal with the same amount of high protein as is used for this recipe)
3 teaspoons Sustagen (Vitamin supplement available in Australia and New Zealand)

Directions

1. Put warm water into container and slowly mix in the honey.

2. Blend the boiled eggs until mushy. Then blend in half of the honey/water mix.

3. Blend in the other half of the honey/water mix.

4. Add sustagen and half the baby cereal and blend it in.

5. Add the remaining baby cereal and blend for 1 ½ minutes to make the mixture lump free.

6. Keep refrigerated or frozen.

Feeding instructions for 2 gliders

3 grams apple

3 grams banana/corn

1.5 grams dog kibble

1 teaspoon Fly pupae

3 grams grapes / kiwi fruit

10 grams hard boiled egg

2 teaspoon Leadbeaters mixture (recipe above)

4 grams orange with skin

2 grams pear

2 grams papaya

3 grams sweet potato

Give the list above nightly. Once a week (they did it on Wednesdays) feed a day old chick when available and large mealworms.

Personal Notes

This recipe was posted for informational purposes only. As stated above this diet is not possible to make in the U.S. but has served as the baseline for many of the recipes currently used today such as the BML, the PML, and the OHPW/Critter Love diets which you can find listed below.

 

Bourbon’s Modified Leadbeaters Diet (BML)

The BML diet was created by Bourbon Hackworth in 1998 with the assistance of her veterinarian. This diet was inspired by the Original Leadbeaters Diet which was one of the first meal plans fed to captive gliders in Australia successfully and is what most popular diets today were based off of to some extent. Due to some of the ingredients of the Original Leadbeaters Diet not being available in the United States, Bourbon modified the ingredients into a version that could be fed to captive sugar gliders in the US. This diet is high in calcium, iron, and Menadoine (K3) which can pose some health concerns. This diet also has a 3.6: 1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio making it too high in calcium. However, the select fruits/veggies that accompany this diet are there to balance it out to a 2:1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio. This diet is extremely restrictive and lacks variety but does have ongoing research into its effects on sugar glider health. The research has shown good results for a balanced diet and many owners have found this diet to be very convenient.

Due to the strict and restrictive nature of this diet we highly recommend that you read through the original site before giving your glider this diet. http://bmldiet.com/

Ingredients

½ cup Honey

1 bottle of 4 oz premixed Gerber Yogurt juice (Mixed Fruit or Banana) (You can substitute this with 2 oz of plain yogurt and 2 oz of mixed fruit juice)

¼ cup Wheat Germ

1 teaspoon Rep-Cal Herptivite MultiVitamin supplement 

2 teaspoons Rep-Cal Calcium Supplement non-phosphorus with Vit. D3

2 jars 2½ oz of Stage 1 or 2 Beechnut, Gerber or Heinz Chicken baby food

1 egg hardboiled or scrambled

¼ cup apple juice

1/2 cup dry baby cereal Heinz or Gerber (Rice or Oatmeal) 

Directions

1. Put the honey and premixed Gerber Yogurt juice in the blender and turn on the blender.

2. One by one add the ingredients above in the order they are listed into the blender. When you get to the apple juice and dry baby cereal only add a little of each and alternate them until they are both completely mixed in.

3. Continue to blend for another 5 minutes then pour into a freezer safe container or ice cube trays (1 cube is approximately 2 tablespoons depending on your ice cube tray) and put in the freezer. It will freeze to the consistency of ice cream.

One batch of this mix should feed one sugar glider for about a month.

Feeding Instructions per glider (double for 2 gliders)

1 Tablespoon BML
1 Tablespoon mixed fruits selected from the list below
1 Tablespoon mixed veggies selected from the list below

Feed insects in the morning as a snack.

Select Fruit/Vegetable List (Very strict list that cannot be substituted with anything else)

Fruits: apples, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, frozen pitted cherries, blueberries Vegetables: corn, peas, carrots, green beans
Do not feed apple seeds, cherry pits, canned fruits or veggies, fruit slurries, or vegetable relishes.

Personal Notes

We do not feed our gliders the BML diet because it promotes the use of canned goods and is too restrictive in our opinion. If you were fed only one dish with little to no variation for the next 15 years of your life how would you feel about food? We personally prefer variety over convenience. We also do not like how this diet promotes the use of canned goods because they are stuffed with a ton of preservatives and undesirable/unlisted ingredients that could pose health problems for your glider. We especially don’t like the use of baby canned foods because of how often baby foods have been recalled as of late. With that said, there is ongoing research into this diet that has shown positive results on sugar glider health and this is an approved diet that has been used since about 1998. There is nothing wrong with choosing this diet if it works for you and your gliders.

 

Pocket’s Modified Leadbeaters (PML) Diet

Pocket’s Modified Leadbeaters diet was created by Debbie Houston. Debbie originally fed her gliders the BML diet but decided to try making her own diet with the help and support of her veterinarians because she wanted to feed her gliders a diet that better resembled what sugar gliders eat in the wild. She ended up making a modified version of the Original Leadbeaters diet that uses less eggs, water, and honey. She substituted the Sustagen and high protein baby cereal with Wombaroo high protein powder with great success. The Wombaroo powder has double the amount of protein contained in the high protein baby cereal and contains selenium which is a vital vitamin for marsupials. She also grows many Australian flora that she uses for her gliders diet. Many glider owners opted for the Original HPW which was modified from this diet because the PML diet was never fully clear on what needed to be fed with this recipe to make a completely balanced diet.

You can view the recipe and contact Debbie (aka Pockets on GliderCentral) here: http://www.gliderdad79.com/pml.php.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups warm water

1 ¾ Honey

2 Hardboiled eggs with shell removed

1 oz (30 grams) Wombaroo High Protein Supplement

Directions

1. Stir honey in warm water until it is dissolved (Do not use hot water because it can affect the vitamins in the honey and wombaroo powder).

2. Put water/honey mix and eggs into blender and mix for 1 minute.

3. Add Wombaroo and blend for an additional minute.

4. Pour into freezer safe container and freeze. It will only last 4 days if put in the refrigerator.

Feeding Instructions

1 ½-2 Tablespoons PML for 2 sugar gliders

1-2 Tablespoons of fruits and veggies

1 Tablespoon of Zookeeper’s Secret or Insectivore-Fare, Chicken, Egg, Yogurt or another protein source

The diet should be 50% PML, 40% fruits, veggies, Zookeeper’s Secret or Insectivore-Fare, Chicken, Egg, Yogurt or another protein source, and 10% treats such as acacia gum, xanthan gum, pollens, etc.

 

Original High Protein Wombaroo Diet (OHPW) aka Critter Love Original Diet

The Original HPW diet was created in 2005 by Peggy Brewer with the assistance of her veterinarian Dr. Tim Tristan, DVM. This diet was inspired by Pocket’s Modified Leadbeaters (PML) diet and is very popular because it is inexpensive (the greatest expense is the fruits and vegetables), easy to feed, and has a wide variety of fruit/veggie combos for a balanced yet diverse food plan. It is also the closest diet ingredients-wise to the Original Leadbeaters Diet. The HPW mixture has a 1.29:1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio making it relatively low in calcium but the various combinations of fruits/veggies help make up for this to balance it out to a 2:1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio. Please look at the Nutritional Values section to see which fruits/veggies are high/low in calcium/phosphorous to better prepare a balanced meal plan. You can also find recipes for fruit/veggie relishes online that are already balanced for this diet.

Due to many individuals and companies creating their own “HPW” imitation products, in 2014 Peggy officially branded and renamed her diet plans from HPW to Critter Love. She has also modified the original wombaroo powder into an American version of wombaroo in 2010 for her new recipes Critter Love Plus and Critter Love Complete. You can learn more about the Original HPW diet and Peggy’s other diet plans here: http://www.critterlovedietcenter.com/

Ingredients

1/4 cup High Protein Wombaroo Powder (1/2 cup for breeding sugar gliders)

3 cooked scrambled eggs

2 cups warm water
1 ½ cups honey
1 Tablespoon bee pollen

Directions

1. Cook the eggs on the stove and set aside to cool down. (Please don’t radiate your eggs by cooking them in the microwave. Radiated food is not healthy for pets and will lead to health problems later on.)

2. In a blender mix the warm water and honey until the honey is dissolved (Do not use hot water because it can affect the vitamins in the honey and wombaroo powder). Then mix in the HPW powder, bee pollen, and eggs and blend for a few minutes.

3. Pour mixture into a freezer safe container with an airtight lid (we reused and old ice cream bucket). Put it in the freezer and it should freeze to about the consistency of ice cream. We also re-stir the HPW when it is about half frozen to make sure that the ingredients don’t separate during the freezing process but this is not mandatory.

One batch of this mix will make approximately 5 cups or 80 Tablespoons. This will feed 2 sugar gliders for about two and a half months or 11 ½ weeks.

Feeding instructions (for 2 gliders)

1 Tablespoon HPW (1 ½ teaspoons per glider)

2 Tablespoons of mixed fruits (at least 3 different kinds) (1 Tablespoon per glider)

2 Tablespoons of mixed vegetables (at least 3 different kinds) (1 Tablespoon per glider)

Scoop out the HPW first so that it has time to partially defrost while you prepare the fruits and veggies. Feed once per day in the afternoon before or about the time your sugar gliders wake up and remove from the cage in the morning.

Optional

Add freeze dried mealworms for extra protein

Add nuts/seeds for gliders that need to put on more weight

Add fresh glider safe flowers/flower petals as a delectably aesthetic treat

If you feel that your gliders need more calcium you can sprinkle a pinch of Glider-Cal or Rep-cal Calcium Supplement on top of their food before you serve it but we don’t recommend doing this every night.

Personal Notes

We feed our sugar gliders the Original HPW diet that uses the Paswell Wombaroo supplement from Australia. The protein supplements used in the other Critter Love recipes were based off of the Wombaroo supplement to create an American protein supplement version. Hence they are two different supplements that have different nutritional values and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. We have stuck with the original diet because our gliders love it and they are very healthy and happy with it so we feel it unnecessary to change their diet. We also like it because it is very similar to what wild sugar gliders would eat in their native habitat. (One of us did decide to try out the BML diet but found that their gliders turned it into a huge food fight every night like the food fights from grade school lol. Ya they got tired of cleaning their cage every day and went back to this diet. The rest of us found this story hysterical though.)

Do not purchase any HPW imitation products such as the instant HPW because they are not the same as the original recipe. Do not purchase any HPW recipes or even pellet recipes claiming to be a “complete” diet because they are lying to you. There is currently no complete diet that has hard evidence through research proving it to be a completely balanced diet. All of the currently approved diets have to be accompanied by an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and insects to make the diet successful and are backed up by actual lab research proving that they are indeed balanced and healthy for our pet sugar gliders.

 

The Pet Glider Diet (TPG) aka the Priscilla Price Diet (PP Diet)

Originally called the Sugar Glider Exotic Diet, The Pet Glider Nutrition System was created in early 2003 and is commonly called The Pet Glider Diet. This diet as well as the vitamin supplement for this diet was created by Priscilla Price with the assistance of her veterinarian. The vitamin supplement is human grade with a 5:1 Ca:P ratio. This recipe has had major modifications in the ingredient quantities several times (in 2009, 2016 and again in 2017) to accommodate for deficiencies in the nutritional balance and negative effects on sugar glider health. In 2014, this diet was evaluated by the Sugar Glider Nutrition Study and had unfavorable results that displayed a nutritionally unbalanced diet due to the variety within the recipe. The nutritional breakdown of the vitamin supplement was not provided or known at the time and was excluded from consideration. The vitamin supplement was created based on a metabolic rate 3x that of a human which is excessive considering the metabolic rate of a sugar glider is less than ¾ that of any placental mammal. Other than this study in 2014 there is no other known research or testing on this diet.

You can learn more about the TPG diet and watch a video on how to make this recipe here: https://www.thepetglider.com/pages/the-glider-nutrition-system#Recipe

Ingredients (Last Modified as of January 2017)

2 cups (16 oz.) of at least 4 different types of fruits mixed (fresh or frozen but not canned) either finely chopped or use a food processor

2 cups (16 oz.) of at least 4 different types of vegetables mixed (fresh or frozen but not canned) either finely chopped or use a food processor

6-8 oz. plain (full fat) Yogurt (No Artificial Sweeteners)

6 tablespoons Calcium Fortified Orange Juice Concentrate (can substitute with regular OJ)

6-8 tablespoons uncooked oatmeal (do not use quick/instant oatmeal use the 5 minute kind, more or less will be needed depending on water consistency generated by your fruits and veggies)

4 oz. Protein (cooked chicken (boiled, broiled or roasted), cooked ground turkey (pan cooked using extra virgin olive oil) and cooked scrambled eggs)

1-2 tablespoon Ground flax seed or wheat germ (optional if using fresh fruits/veggies)

For serving: TPG multi-vitamins and calcium powder (you cannot use other vitamins for this recipe!)

Directions

1. Finely chop your fruits and veggies or use a food processor.

2. Cook your protein – chicken, turkey, or eggs.

3. In a large bowl, put all ingredients except the oatmeal and stir vigorously until all ingredients are fully incorporated and mixed thoroughly.

4. Depending on the thickness of your mix, add oatmeal. You don’t want it to be too runny or too thick, but one that has the consistency of cake mix.

5. Divide the mixture into smaller containers to freeze. Here are some suggestions:

a. Ice cube trays: Measure 2 tablespoons of the mixture into individual ice cube holes and freeze. After they are frozen pop them out into freezer bags then put all bags into a freezer container and take out bags as needed to thaw on a daily basis for feeding. You can feed them frozen because they do thaw out quickly.

b. Divide your mixture into 10 smaller containers and freeze. Each container will last 2 gliders for 3 days. Don’t divide into less than 10 containers because you want the mixture to be fresh and shouldn’t be in the refrigerator for more than 3 days.

This recipe is enough for 2 sugar gliders for 30 days. The variety of fruits and veggies being mixed should be different with every batch. Nuts and seeds should not be fed as treats if using this diet due to their high amount of phosphorous.

Feeding Instructions

Serve 1 ½ tablespoons per sugar glider per day in the late afternoon. Sprinkle your multi-vitamin with calcium on top of the food you serve each day. Use 1/8th teaspoon per sugar glider and always keep multi-vitamins and calcium in the refrigerator (do not freeze).

Optional

Leave Monkey biscuits or a small bowl of TPG Sugar Glider Brunch Cereal in their cage so they have something to munch on if they get hungry during the day.

Personal Opinion

In a nutshell this diet is controversial in many ways and from our point of view has more cons than pros. One being that this diet is still new (since it was last modified in 2017) and has little to no data on its effectiveness towards sugar diet health and is still under experimentation. We personally don’t recommend this diet until further research has been done and a permanent, unchanging, perfected recipe has been finalized but we will include it since it is important to know the facts. Many people are convinced that it is an approved diet with no issues. Yes, this is an approved diet but it is not without its issues and it is still being worked on by Priscilla and her veterinarian. The ingredients list is all over the place in its quantities (which have been changed multiple times) and for a novice cook that has never made cake batter good luck you will need to watch the video. One pro of this recipe it that most of the ingredients are very convenient to find at just about any grocery store except for the vitamins. Now a recipe that claims you can only use their vitamins just screams marketing scheme to me, but they do make it with the nutritional balance of the recipe in mind. The biggest con that really offsets the balance of this recipe (other than the unclear occasionally modified quantities) is the fact that you sprinkle on the vitamins on top of the food on a daily basis instead of just mixing it in when you make the staple. This can lead to vitamin imbalances due to measuring inaccuracies, as well as actual sugar glider intake. Sugar gliders are very picky eaters that pick and choose what they do and do not eat and they eat when they feel like it. While one glider is eating all of the vitamins on top, the other may be off playing and will not get the recommended amount of vitamins. Another issue is that orange juice concentrate is a key main ingredient. Citrus fruits are very acidic and high in oxalates which can cause stomach issues and diarrhea. Even fed normally citrus fruits should be fed in moderation not on a daily basis. This recipe has more cons than pros but same as any other recipe do your research and use your best judgment.


Treats

Great treats for bonding

Raw unfiltered honey

Nectar/Gum (Gum is similar to tree sap not chewing gum)

Insects (live or dried): Crickets and mealworms (can be coated in calcium powder for a calcium boost as needed)

Yogurt drops (double check to make sure there is NO chocolate/cocoa in the ingredients)

Nuts/seeds (raw and unseasoned): Acorns, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, peanuts, and pecans.

Flowers (see approved list of edible flowers in Links tab)

Smoothies

Dehydrated fruits/veggies

 

Tips:

Hide treats around their cage and in their toys to encourage foraging behavior.

Every morning or evening greet your gliders with a small treat. Works great as an extra bonding experience.

If you have a glider that tends to bite your fingers, put some honey on your fingertip to encourage glider kisses instead of finger biting.

If your glider has a calcium deficiency you can toss some live crickets/mealworms in calcium powder for a calcium boost.

Sugar gliders can learn to take most treats politely from your fingers but they love live insects so much that they may forget their manners at the cost of a nip on your finger. Use tweezers/forceps to give them live insects to avoid accidental finger biting.

If you have a picky glider that won’t eat certain foods you can blend it up as a smoothie so they still get the nutrients they need.

One issue to avoid is that pet sugar gliders can easily gain too much weight due to high amounts of sugar or fat in their diet. Honey and nuts do make great bonding treats but shouldn't be fed on a frequent basis because of their high amounts of sugar and fats. While chubby gliders are super adorable it is not good for their health and can result in a shorter lifespan.

If your glider needs to gain weight due to being underweight or sick, treats work great for gaining weight fast. Below is a recipe that also works great as both a treat (very sparingly) or as a weight gain add-on diet.

 

Glider Crack Recipe

Ingredients

1 (6 oz.) can white chunk chicken (drained and rinsed well)

1 scrambled egg

½ avocado (seed and skin removed)

½ teaspoon Rep-Cal or Wombaroo powder

water

Directions

Put all ingredients into a blender and add water until it is a paste consistency.

Optional: After blending stir in some dried crickets/mealworms.

Feed 1 teaspoon per night until glider gains weight then reduce to 1 teaspoon every other night until a consistent healthy weight has been achieved.