How to choose a diet

There are many different diets available for your sugar glider. Make sure it is an approved diet and keep the following in mind: A healthy diet is VERY important, serious health conditions can arise if your glider is not fed properly. Keep the correct calcium to phosphorous ratio. A sugar gliders diet should consist of a protein source, vitamins, fruits and vegetables. Often times breeders will offer pregnant or lactating mothers extra protein. Before doing this, be sure it fits into your current diet plan. Always follow the directions of your chosen diet. Fresh water must be available at all times. Feed you glider a varied diet within your chosen diet plan. This will prevent food boredom, and ensures a balanced diet. Example, feed various fruits, juices, vegetables, etc. Cat food or pellet base diets are not recommended. Do not mix diets. Give the diet a chance before deciding your gliders don't like it. One week they will go without touching any fruit, the next that is all they will eat.


Recognized Sugar Glider Diets available in South Africa


HPW Complete and Plus


HPW (High Protein Wombaroo)


BGreen Organic Sugar Glider Diet

Recognized diets for sugar gliders include:

HPW Complete and Plus
HPW (High Protein Wombaroo)
Blended diet BML (Bourbon's Modified Leadbeaters)
Darcy's Diet
The Suncoast Diet
The Pet Glider Nutrition System
Judie's BML
PML (Pocket's Modified Leadbeaters)
Reep's Wombaroo Diet


Safe Fruits and Veggie list

Water and food dishes

Make sure the food bowl can't tip over. Place the food dishes high enough so that faeces can't drop into the food dishes. You may want to use a food dish that is split into portions to provide for the solids and the liquid substances. If you have chewers, you may want to opt for glass or stainless steel. Create a way to keep the dishes in place. Gliders tend to push food off of a shelf or turn a bowl over. Always make sure there is water available in the cage. Dehydration is a leading cause of death in gliders. Using a water bottle helps keep glider waste out of their water supply. It also prevents spillage because it can't tip over. Choose a water bottle, without a spring behind the ball. The spring makes it difficult for the gliders to move the ball. Two water bottles are better than one. If one of them breaks, your glider still has a water source. If you choose to put a dish in the cage for water, remember to put it up high to help keep faeces and waste out of it.

What NOT to feed

Foods that have a high fat content: Sugar Gliders have an inability to digest fatty foods such as nuts, ground beef, pork, cheese, etc.
Cheese or dairy other than yogurt: Cheese is a high fat food. It is not yet determined whether Sugar Gliders are lactose intolerant, and is therefore safer to avoid all dairy products other than yogurt.

Nuts: Nuts are a health risk because it has a high fat content, and also provide a choking risk.


Peanuts may contain aflatoxins.


Lettuce: Lettuce lacks the nutrition that a sugar glider needs; it does not contain much nutritional value, and can often induce diarrhea.


Corn: It is important to have higher calcium to phosphorus ratio in a sugar glider's food.


Bird seeds or Rodent food: Bird food is usually made of seeds, nuts, dried fruits and sugar gliders are simply not built to digest this type of food.


Cat or Dog food: Cats are carnivores and sugar gliders are omnivores.


Chocolates, Coffee, Tea or Soda: Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs and other pets; we assume the same is true for sugar gliders.


Pits or seeds of fruit: These are toxic and could cause intestinal blockage.


Garlic: Studies indicate that garlic seems to have an anti-coagulant ability, which means that garlic may reduce the number of red blood cells in the body.


Onions: Avoid onions and foods that contain onion powder, as it is believed to be toxic to gliders.


Lima Beans: Uncooked lima beans & kidney beans are considered toxic as they contain cyanide-producing compounds (cyanogenic glycosides) & the liver is only capable of detoxifying small amounts of them.

Foraging ideas

So often I see people struggling to get their gliders to eat their fruits and veggies, or even gliders with food aggression.

I wanted to share a few ideas for those who need help in these two areas, or even if you just like to stimulate your gliders natural foraging behaviour. Or you just like to flat out spoil your babies.

Gliders have natural foraging behaviour, you can use this to your advantage by presenting their foods differently to make up for the Ca:P ratios with the fruits and veggies. Also, sometimes young gliders may take a while to "take" to fruits and veggies, this way you make it interesting for them.

You can hide their fruits/veggies, change the size for example instead of cutting up foods in cubes you can give bigger chunks etc. Instead of cutting up their watermelon for example, I will use one whole slice and hang it in their cage.

You can use relishes to mix in with the staple, some like it some don't.

You need to find a way to present the food that your gliders like. Use foraging cups (shot glasses) to put their fruits/veggies all over the cage.


Hide things in straws. Wrap fruits/veggies in bok choi leaves.  Like wrapping blue berries in the leaves.



They will find their food much more interesting if you change up the presentations and make it a bit more of a challenge.


Cut a red, yellow or green pepper in the shape of a bowl, line the sweet pepper with bok choi or spinach, add broccoli and green beans.


Cook a squash with no spices added, fill it with their veggie mix.



String Fresh Strawberries and Kiwi Fruit on a cocktail stick.


Banana Split:
Peel a banana 3/4 of the way, cut off 3/4 of the banana and eat. J  leaving 1/4 of the banana in the peel. Cover the banana with honey and dip in coconut.  Tie a fleece string to the banana end and hang in the cage. My babies don't like banana, but this way, they some extensive nibbling!


Guava Swing:

Remove the top and bottom part of the Guava. Push a cocktail stick through the center part of the guava. Attach fleece to both ends of the cocktail stick to be able to hang it in the cage.

Make tiny holes all over the Guava with the back end of a teaspoon.


Apple Swing:
Remove the center part of the apple making sure there are no pits left


Place a Celery stick through the center and make several tiny holes all over the apple


Fill some of the holes with acacia gum, then attach a fleece strip to the Celery ends to be able to hang it in the cage

Cabbage platter:
Use a cabbage leaf as a bowl and fill it with mushrooms, tomato, radish and parsley.

Carrot Fountain:
Wash and peel a carrot, use the peeler to create thin strips to hang down. Attach a fleece strip to the top end of the carrot to be able to hang it in the cage.

Cucumber Spiral:
Cut a piece of cucumber in a spiral, attach a link to hang it from and voila!
You can place a scewer through the center of the cucumber, begin at one end of the skewered cucumber, place your knife at a slight angle and cut down to the skewer. Continue cutting with the blade resting against the skewer while turning cucumber until you reach the end.


La Cucaracha - by Jason Sampson

Cockroaches as feeders for your Suggies; species, care, breeding and feeding

I have been asked to prepare a little “how to” guide on tropical roaches as feeders for Sugar Gliders in South Africa, this is written drawing on my own experience and will be specific to Suggies, although there will be a list of net references included in the text that will contain extra information on the subject. I hope that this will serve to educate owners as well as entertain and improve the diet of our little furballs in captivity!

Although I have bred pretty much every species of feeder insect available in the country, roaches have become my favourite protein source for all my exotic insectivores. The simple reasons for this are that they are without any doubt the easiest to feed and breed, are eagerly accepted by our pets, are disease free, don’t smell and are massively nutritious. A nutritional analysis of commonly fed roach species as compared to both mealworms and crickets can be found here:, from which it can be easily seen that roaches are higher in protein than either and much lower in fat than mealworms, which are the commonest insect feeders for Suggies.

It must be mentioned at this point that feeder roach species are NOT pest types. There are about 4,500 species of cockroach worldwide of which 6, at most, are true pests and associate with human habitation. Feeder species are chosen for their ease of breeding in a controlled environment coupled with their inability to survive in a home or the wild if they escape their rearing container and are invariably tropical species with high humidity and food quality needs, which means they either die of dehydration or starvation in a typical household. So no worries about causing an infestation with your roaches! J

While we are on the subject, never, ever feed a “wild” roach to your babies, you do not know where it has been or what it has been eating/exposed to. The reason one breeds one’s own feeders is to give the best possible nutrition to your babies, not poison them through inadvertent exposure to insecticide, for example!

A list of other pros and cons of roaches, as adapted from

·         PROS:
- They do not jump or fly.
-Do not make any loud noises and are silent 99%-100% of the time depending on species.
- They have a high meat: shell ratio and very high protein: fat ratio.
-They are very hardy and adults live substantially longer than crickets, up to a few years for some species.
-There are always a variety of sizes in the colony when they are breeding, and a variety of species to choose from for individual needs, although I have found two to be best for Suggies.
-When a colony is established you may never need to buy other feeders again, except for variety.

·         CONS:
-Setting up can be an expensive initial investment (compared to more common feeders)
-Takes some time to establish a colony, you do need some patience!
-Some (not all) species can climb smooth surfaces such as glass
-‘Gril’ factor, although I find the bigger species, and co-incidentally the Suggie favorites, are more beetle like and thus less “gross”!

There are six commonly bred species of feeder roach in South Africa of which two are hugely favored by Suggies, probably because of a lack of a “defensive smell”, given off when a roach is stressed or trying to chase away a predator and because they are large bodied with lots of meat!

These two species are Blaptica dubia - Guyana Orange Spotted Roach or “Dubia”

The female is wingless, males do have wings but cannot fly. Nymphs (babies) look like small females.


and Gromphadorhina portentosa - Madagascar Hissing Roach or “Hisser”

This is a prize alpha, or “bull” male. The bumps on his head are used to fight other males for females, who look similar but without the “horns”. These are named because they make a hissing noise if disturbed. Males hiss more and louder than females.

To successfully breed enough roaches to keep your animals fed you need only a few things: an escape proof bin with ventilation, hides/habitat, food/hydration, and warmth.


I prefer black plastic bins as roaches are shy animals that breed in the dark.

As you can see I have cut out a large square from each bin and silicone glued a fine plastic mesh over the hole for ventilation. I use marine silicone as there are no additives. Each bin in this picture houses a different species, I have found it is possible to house different species in the same bin but invariable one or more of them does not thrive. The bin on the extreme far left is being repurposed and does not have any roaches in it at this time.

Dubia cockroaches cannot climb a smooth surface whereas Hissers can and do; this is easily blocked with a layer of Vaseline on the rim of the bin and foam cavity tape glued under the rim of a bins lid.



Then you need habitat; I use egg crates and wood pulp cartons stacked on end to shed frass (poop) to the bottom of the bin.

You can clearly see the Vaseline layer around the edge of the bin. Important: Don’t stack the crates high enough for the roaches to reach the lid, else the Vaseline becomes meaningless.

A group of female hissers, nymphs and mealworm beatles, the “dust” on the crates are chewed up cardboard and wheat bran, more on this below:

I add a small amount of wheat bran to the bottom of a colony container and introduce mealworms, these help keep a colony clean, eat roach frass and dead roaches and generally keep house. 

A well maintained roach colony only needs cleaning every six months to one year!

I do not add additional heat in summer, although I will tape a reptile heating pad to one end of the container in winter. I prefer the black plastic pads as they do not get too hot. You do not need to do this with big healthy colonies, it’s only to stretch the breeding months as the roaches slowdown in cooler weather.

I feed my roaches’ good quality dog and cat food, and make sure they have plenty of fresh fruit. Oranges seem to be roach Viagra.

Both Dubias and Hissers give live birth to small litters of nymphs, below is a group of day or two old little ones. Roaches of these two species mature in 3-6 months and breed well every two or three months until a year or two old. I am sorry to generalise so wildly but these figures are dependent on temperature and feeding.

I prefer to feed males to my Suggies, but you must be careful not to feed too many as you may end up with all female colonies and no new nymphs! Else older (past their prime, you soon learn to recognise the signs) and younger sub-adults are all good choices, breeding age females and young, alpha males should be left alone.

Roaches breed best when somewhat crowded, so you should start a colony in groups of 30-50 adults and more.

As far as feeding them to your babies goes, feed live for enrichment purposes, or if you have little ones that ‘gril’ for big insects (yes, I have one such), I find that freezing a large hisser (very humane, they go into a deep sleep called “torpor” and just slip away) and then cutting up into large chunks in their nosh results in licked clean bowls. It helps if you think of the insect as seafood! J My Suggies will dispatch a roach very quickly with a bite to the head when fed live, and they learn to do this very quickly, although they will spend hours cleaning out the shell, something like a large lobster!

My breeding stock was acquired from a number of sources but good internet suppliers are as follows:

Or two private sellers I have bought from in the past:

Nina: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jacquie: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or look in Junkmail/OLX/Gumtree, or at Expo’s, of which there are more every year, or wait for a friend to have too many, or ask around on Forums… :)

I genuinely hope you are inspired by this to start your own roach colonies for the good of your Suggies.




Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014 09:08
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