Calcium / Phosphorous Ratio Tables
One of Dr C’s guidelines in developing a good sugar glider menu is to watch the calcium / phosphorus ratios of the fruits and vegetables. The goal is to achieve, on average, a calcium to phosphorus ratio over 1 – more calcium than phosphorus in the diet. We are providing these tables as reference points only. Not all foods on these tables are acceptable sugar glider choices. You may want to print off this list and highlight the better choices that are good for sugar gliders.
For example, we have listed corn in this list as it is a common food that glider keepers choose as a regular menu item. As you will see in the charts, corn has a ratio of calcium to phosphorus ratio of .02:1 (the calcium number is always listed first). What this means is that for every one part phosphorus found in corn, there is hardly any calcium. Put another way, there is 50 times as much phosphorus as calcium in corn (50 x .02 = 1)! Yikes! This imbalance will not bode well for your sugar gliders’ good health over time.
It is always recommended that you give your sugar gliders a vitamin and calcium supplement on a daily basis. Dr C’s recommended dosages of these supplements is intended to work with a diet plan that does NOT have excessively high phosphorus ratios. In other words, even with supplementation, you want to pay good attention to the calcium to phosphorus ratios of the foods offered.
Please do not increase the calcium supplementation because you wish to offer foods higher in phosphorus. If you recall from last month’s newsletter, Arnold made a complete fool of himself over a can of corn. We know how much sugar gliders love corn. But their love for corn is not a good reason to feed corn regularly, because the phosphorus ratios are simply too high. Arnold will make a fool of himself over other foods as well, much healthier foods, so we do not need to deprive our fuzzbutts of meal time pleasures. It is our job to identify foods that they enjoy AND are healthful at the same time.
OK, now to the very exciting world of Ca:P (Calcium to Phosphorus) ratio tables. Remember, because a food is on the list does not mean it is an endorsed glider meal offering. Just so you know, we have not tried many of the foods on this list. We have found a core group of fruit and veggies that we work into a week long rotation and tend to repeat our meals on a weekly rotation, based on seasonal availability.
In order to develop this table, we acquired information from a variety of reputable sources and averaged the values. For example, take a fruit like an apple. How many varieties of apple can you think of? I know my grocery sells nearly a dozen varieties. The ratios will vary depending on variety and, in the case of apples, will vary whether the skin is on or off. Remember, it’s about keeping overall averages higher on the calcium side of the equation. We do feed specific fruits and vegetables that have a lower than 1:1 ratio, but papaya is a regular offering here. With a 4.8:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, the papaya offsets foods with a low ratio and over time, our averages are higher on the calcium side than phosphorus. We tend to avoid excessively high phosphorus foods like corn.
Ready for a good read? Here is the table we compiled in alphabetic order by food. The data have been adjusted so that the value of Phosphorus is always “1” – this makes it easier to compare foods.
If the Calcium (1st number) is under 1, the food has less Calcium than Phosphorus; if the first number is over 1, the food has moreCalcium than Phosphorus. A food with a 1:1 ratio has the same amount of Calcium and Phosphorus.
Some items have footnoted “yikes” alerts because they have known issues in sugar gliders. If you have evidence of other “yikes” alerts we need to add, please let us know.
Apple, with skin
Apple, without skin
Lettuce, Iceburg ****
Lettuce, Loose Leaf
Star Fruit (Carambola)
* Yikes! Avocado is high in fat content
** Yikes! Corn is very high in phosphorus
*** Yikes! Grapes may be dangerous to sugar gliders
**** Yikes! Lettuce can cause runny stool
‘Til next time, in good health for you and your gliders, we sign off in appreciation of all of you who share great glider adventures with us!