Sugar Glider Foods to Avoid - What not to feed them!
Foods to Avoid
Virgil here! It’s usually around this time in “new parenthood” when we start getting asked a lot of questions about the OTHER “fun” kinds of food (besides the standard Glide-r-Chow, Glide-r-Gravy and apples, etc..) people can start feeding their sugar glider baby(ies)… The fact is, since they have little “opposable thumbs” just like we do, it is incredibly entertaining to watch them eat things – and the bigger your baby(ies) get, the more overwhelming this temptation becomes :-)
HOWEVER, while this is perfectly natural behavior for new “moms & dads”, remember what we said in a previous day. We strongly recommend limiting your new baby(ies) food to:
- Glide-r-Chow & Glide-a-Mins
- a teaspoon of flavored yogurt no more than 2x per week for at least the FIRST 6 WEEKS you have them….
Again, this is because their small digestive systems are not yet fully-developed, and a small change in diet can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, and in small babies, that can be fatal in a very short period of time…
Now, KEEPING THIS IN MIND, if – and only IF – your baby(ies) are now eating the above foods regularly with no problems, and their stools are continually firm, then use your own judgment when SLOWLY experimenting with adding new foods (ie. Yum-E-Treats) to their diet – AS TREATS ONLY. Remember, throughout their lives, in order to make SURE they are always getting the “foundational” nutrients they need, their main foods should always be the 5 listed above – and any other foods should ONLY be used as occasional “treats”.
The other important thing to remember before we get into a list of foods they CAN’T have – is that when you start introducing new foods – always do it ONE at a time. This way, if they do start to develop diarrhea, you won’t have to waste valuable time trying to figure out WHICH food caused it – and you can get your baby(ies) health right back on track…
In VERY general terms, here is a good question to ask yourself EVERY TIME you are thinking about giving a new food treat to your baby(ies)…
“WOULD I FEED THIS TO MY 2 YEAR OLD SON OR DAUGHTER UNSUPERVISED?…”
Now, while this question is not the blanket “end-all, be-all” hurdle, it should give you a good idea of where to start. For example, in SMALL quantities (remember, these little guys only weigh 5-8 ounces) almost any kind of fresh fruits or vegetables are fine… most cooked meats except pork are ok, etc… Just like you probably wouldn’t feed a young child foods that contain a high-fat content, lots of sodium, processed sugar, MSG, saturated-fats, etc… for general “health” reasons – you also want to avoid feeding these kinds of foods to Sugar Bears.
Ok, with all that said, let’s move on to a SPECIFIC list of foods that generally are considered NOT to be good for Sugar Gliders. This list is by NO means comprehensive, and if you ever have a question about a specific food, either err on the side of caution – or just shoot us a quick email and we’ll let you know what our experience has been…
- CHOCOLATE: We’ve already covered this one at length in previous emails, so we won’t reiterate everything here. Suffice to say that it’s a big “no-no”…
- CHEESE, ICE-CREAM or OTHER DAIRY PRODUCTS: As we’ve also said in previous emails, it is generally accepted that most Sugar Bears are lactose-intolerant. While there is still (and probably always will be) ongoing debate about this issue, the best we can tell you is that we’ve learned from experience to never feed our Sugar Bears ANY dairy product – except flavored yogurt of course. Therefore, before feeding your baby(ies) any new food, always take a second to read the label and see if it contains any dairy products (or crazy chemicals you can’t pronounce). If so, best to err on the side of caution, and find something else. There are just too many other good, healthy foods out there to risk feeding them something “borderline” that could possibly harm their health.
- “HIGH-RISK” FRUITS and VEGETABLES: We already covered this in a previous email, but we consider a “high-risk” food to be ANYTHING that is:
- treated with any pesticide during it’s production, and
- difficult to wash completely clean.
This is due to the extremely toxic pesticides used nowadays in our foods – which are almost never completely cleaned off by the time you buy them. For a clear-cut example of what we mean by this, let’s compare “apples and raspberries” here for a second (no pun intended)…
If you wash an apple, you can pretty much be sure that you got every crack and crevice… However, with “rough” fruits like a raspberry, it is almost impossible to reach every nook & cranny – and since it only takes a small amount of any toxin to hurt our fuzzy little friends – it’s usually best to just avoid them completely.
Of course, one way to make sure you never have to worry about this is to only feed them “certified organic” fruits & veggies, but shopping like this on any kind of a regular basis can get VERY expensive REAL fast.
In general, good, safe “FUN” fruits are pretty much anything in the “melon” family (without the seeds of course)… For example, Sugar Bears typically LOVE “melon-type” foods like: watermelon, muskmelon, cantelope, papayas, etc…
Now, if you are like us – and want to routinely give your Sugar Bears SAFE and FUN foods without having to spend hours sorting and preparing an endless menu of expensive fruits & veggies, the best alternative out there is a product called Yum-E-Treats. You can find out more about this product at our Online Store, but in a nutshell, Yum-E-Treats is a special “Super-Mix” of 15 all-time favorite Sugar Bear fruits and sweet treats that is both 100% Certified Organic – and is guaranteed to not cause your Sugar Bears to develop any offensive odors. At under $30, it’s MUCH cheaper than going out and buying everything yourself – and a single bag of it will last most Sugar Bears more than a YEAR :-)
Now, while we’re on the topic of fruits & veggies, I want to quickly cover ONE other specific fruit -and ONE other specific veggie – that have recently become controversial in respect to whether or not they can harm Sugar Bears. In particular, we are talking about GRAPES and CORN…
First off, there is NO conclusive proof at the time we are writing this that either of these foods – when fed ONLY as occasional “treats” – are harmful to Sugar Bears. In addition to Yum-E-Treats, we – along with literally tens of thousands of our happy customers – have fed our Sugar Bears BOTH these foods – as OCCASIONAL TREATS – for many years, and never experienced a single adverse effect.
Most of the controversy around grapes seems to originate with some older veterinary studies that seem to POSSIBLY show a link between kidney failure in dogs who have consumed large quantities of grapes or raisins. Again, how applicable this is to Sugar Bears – especially when only fed periodically – is something open to debate… Just remember that a single grape would be roughly the equivalent of a human eating an ENTIRE watermelon in one sitting – so when cut up into small pieces and used as an occasional treat – we have never had, or seen, any problems.
As far a corn goes, the main reason why some self-proclaimed internet “experts” – none of which are veterinarians – fanatically object to feeding it to Sugar Bears is simply that it contains a relatively high level of phosphorous. This is true, and in general it’s NOT a good thing to consistently feed a Sugar Bear anything that contains high amounts of phosphorous. However, again, we cannot point out strongly enough these internet “whackos” are NOT veterinarians – and instead often just love to use this issue as a way of literally “scaring” owners into listening to them.
The TRUTH about corn in a sugar bear’s diet is that this issue has been studied EXTENSIVELY by extremely knowledgeable Vets and nutritionists for many years, and the phosphorous contained in corn simply does not – I repeat does NOT – interfere with vital calcium absorption. This is a well-established scientific FACT which is not up for debate – no matter what any “website” or “internet expert” might claim. Furthermore, controlled levels of corn precisely incorporated into Sugar Bear pellets has also proven to be a crucial source of valuable phytonutrients and other important nutrients that are actually critical to maintaining your Sugar Bear’s health. Therefore, if you ever hear any internet nonsense about how corn should not be a key ingredient in Sugar Bear pelleted food, our advice is just to RUN – not walk – in the other direction.
That being said, ANY food item fed in excess is never a good thing, so as long as corn is only limited to a single kernel as an occasional treat, you should be just fine.
BIRD, CAT or DOG FOOD: These are all BIG “no-no’s. In our opinion, it’s absolutely OBSCENE that ill-informed pet stores out there are still recommending that Sugar Bears can eat any of these foods. The ingredients that go into these “cheap, mass foods” nowadays – even the so-called “premium” ones – are in almost every case completely WRONG for Sugar Bears – and the list of the reasons why is simply too long to print here. Just suffice to say, please stay away from these foods under all circumstances.
PEANUTS: While peanuts and other foods in the “nut” family may not necessarily be harmful to your Sugar Bear, they DO contain a VERY high fat content – and just like it wouldn’t be good to feed a HUMAN baby peanuts all day – the same is true for Sugar Bears. The occasional peanut is fine, but generally speaking, they like pine nuts and sunflower seeds better anyway – so try to stay as healthy as possible.
LETTUCE: Lettuce is kind of an “empty” vegetable, in that it contains almost no nutritional value for Sugar Bears – and it has been proven to cause diarrhea in Sugar Bears. With SO many other good, nutritious veggies out there, there’s just no need to give them lettuce.
PORK: If you want to treat your Sugar Bear occasionally with a bit of meat – avoid Pork whenever possible. The high level of nitrates and sodium in Pork products (ie. ham, bacon, pork chops, etc…) – while they may not kill your baby – are generally not a good thing for your Sugar Bear’s digestive system.
SUMMARY: In closing, like we said earlier, the above list is by no means “conclusive”, but it should give you a good idea of the main things to avoid…
We hope by now that you’ve noticed TWO main underlying “themes” throughout this entire email, and they are:
- If you would feed a particular new food to a 2 year-old child without any hesitation, then it’s probably ok, and
- ANY food in too high of a quantity can be harmful to almost any animal. Common-sense and MODERATION are the key…
Having said that, when you go out and search the web, you will find literally DOZENS of sites urgently warning you to avoid ALL kinds of other foods, but just like we said in your original purple “Quick-Start” audio CD – when it comes to raising healthy and happy Sugar Bears – there are basically TWO ways you can do it…
- The EASY way…. or
- The COMPLICATED way…
That being said, if you just READ the labels of any new potential food, and make sure that your Sugar Bear’s MAIN diet always consists of:
- Glide-a-Mins, and
- a teaspoon of flavored yogurt a couple times a week
You will be JUST FINE :-) Just approach everything else as an “OCCASIONAL TREAT” – and your baby(ies) will live a long, happy and rewarding life with your family :-)
Well, that’s about it for now!… As always, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to feeding – if you have any questions about this topic – or a specific food that we didn’t mention here – just shoot us a quick email and we’ll get right back to you :-)