Sugar Gliders and Pregnant Humans; SunCoast on “other diets”; Calcium, Vitamins, Minerals

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans”

~ James Herriot

Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the July 2012 edition of the GliderVet News!

This month we’re sticking just to the mailbag. You guys ask so many wonderful questions and in time, we hope to have covered all relevant topics concerning sugar gliders and the people that love them. I think in over ten years of offering your insightful views that this archivedoes cover just about everything most people want to know and I’m always surprised and delighted to know that we are not likely to ever run out of things to talk about. We learn a great deal from your ideas, questions and suggestions and I just want you to know that we certainly appreciate your input.

As the mailbag continues to be pregnant with questions, we’ll start off with a little expectant anticipation as we glide on in – do sugar gliders pose a risk to pregnant human ladies? Then we will cover Suncoast’s opinion on the “other diets” that are out there, and discuss different vitamins and minerals and how important the are.

But first a head’s up – are your gliders fans of Grasshoppers? ZooMed is reporting shortages on their canned Grasshopper product and are not sure when this will be resolved. We’ve scoured around and grabbed some of the last available, with a “good until” date of 2015. If your suggies can’t survive without their Hoppers, you might consider picking up a few extras cans to cover the rest of the year.

Please remember that this newsletter is intended to express the wishes of the whole sugar glider community.  Every article published in this newsletter is a result of someone just like you taking the time to write us with thoughts, ideas, stories and questions.  Send your comments to us here.

If you ever want to find earlier issues of GliderVet News, you can access our archives here.  Fun pics of sugar gliders sent in by our customers are found here.  If you are looking for sugar glider tested and approved products, check out our ever expanding store here.

Are you new to sugar gliders or just in the early stages of trying to decide if one is right for you?  Questions you can ask yourself to help  make this very important and long term decision are here.  

A very confusing area for those considering glider ownership (and for some current owners too!) is diet.  See what our vet has to say here.  And if you decide that a sugar glider (or two!) would become future members of your household, then you might want to check out Arnold’s great deals on starter kits, with or without cages.

Sugar Gliders and Pregnant Humans


I just found out I’m pregnant and I’m concerned about contact with my suggie boys…should I be extra careful about direct contact with the boys or cage cleaning?

Anxious first-time mommy
Hi Anxious!

Well first and foremost, hearty and huge congratulations.  How exciting for you!  I’ve been asked this question a lot and I know many women have asked their obstetricians about any knowledge they may have on potential risk and we’ve never received any feedback that sugar gliders would pose such a risk.  

I think this is a very personal decision and I’ve met many women over the years who have had sugar gliders during pregnancy.  I think if I hear any hindrance of having sugar gliders or any other pets for that matter is that new parents often find themselves so involved in the process of being present for their newest human family member, that they may find their time has been severely restricted to attend and give as much attention to the animal family.  So as I said, this is a personal decision, but insofar as harm to an unborn child, there is nothing we’ve ever heard to expect that could happen.  And we do encourage you to have this conversation with your obstetrician.

So yes, you should be extra careful about many things now … Like get lots of sleep and eat really healthy!  And keep the anxiety down, because you don’t want to pass that stress to your new baby either!

Cajun Disclaimer: We not doctors, so we not s’posed to know nuttin bout nuttin.  Dis here jes an opinion and we s’gest ya see a doctor who s’posed to know sumtin bout ev’rytang!

Arnold’s Two Cents: Preggy suggies are ok round hoomans, so why not preggy hoomans around suggies?

Suncoast Opinion on “other diets”
by Lisa


I have a quick question for you, but first I would like to say how much we enjoy Arnold and the newsletter along with the information and services you all provide – keep up the good work!

We own 5 sugar gliders (and a houseful of other pets) and prepare a BML recipe for them on a weekly basis.  I have tried to find actual BML online, either canned, frozen or other and have had no luck.  I have also spoken with local veterinarians and they do not know of a source online or otherwise to obtain prepared BML.  I would very much appreciate any opinions you and others at SunCoast may have on the subject.  Thank you for your time and I eagerly look forward to hearing back from you.

Cliff G
Hi Cliff,

I appreciate your email and I will share with you a viewpoint of one of our original vet’s that I’ve embraced since she began working with us on diet.  Since BML was and is so popular, I asked her several times to comment on it.  She had given us a plan of nutrition that she felt best about and it’s served us well for the last 13 years.  And her comment every time I asked is this, “Lisa, in my opinion, there is only one best.  Why would you want to educate on something that my peers and I consider a bit less than best?”

So I’ve not pursued the question of BML again.  Personally I see our diet plan and BML similar in many ways, except presentation is different giving the gliders different tastes and flavors on a day to day basis, which many vets and zoo people see as beneficial because captive animals can get bored in captivity.  Using a more rotational type of concept is only one way we can help to prevent boredom.

I understand the convenience of a BML type of diet to just pop out a BML ice cube and serve it, along with fresh fruits and veggies (which could be chopped in advance and frozen as well).  Fact is, I don’t think it should take longer than a few minutes to prepare evening meals.  Also, here at Suncoast, we are serving many gliders on a daily basis.  Feeding around here takes a lot longer than a few minutes for sure!  We’re always considering ways to make things more efficient, and as advocates of feeding a lot of fresh and wholesome foods, well, some things you just cannot short cut and maintain the freshness value (which you probably know by now is something we consider very important!)

Suncoast has always been a proponent of only one plan of nutrition, since this is the only one which we are intimately familiar and thus don’t feel like we are qualified to promote other things that we have no intention of using with our own colony.  We try our very best to only talk about that which we know either from our own experience and from surveying the vet’s and nutritionist’s we’ve connected with over many years.  And we always give more weight to the “professional” opinions that come out of direct experience over something that a doctor may have read somewhere.  There is nothing like seeing the proof in the pudding, and with 13 years devoted to sugar gliders only, I like what I see!

Calcium, Vitamins, Minerals 

Dear Suncoast,

Can i use Repti Calcium (ultrafine precipitated calcium carbonate supplement w/ D3) as instead of rep-cal calcium?

Dear Curious,

It’s probably a high quality calcium, but I am hesitant to say yes or no.  As stated in the previous email, we are not comfortable giving opinions on products we don’t use.  That is, unless there is clear, evidentiary science to show that two things are created equally (or equally enough).  We use the Repcal without D3 because we use it in conjunction with Vionate vitamins which has Vitamin D3, so it is important to not only use high quality vitamins / mineral supplement AND a calcium supplement, but finding two that combine well together.  What I mean by that is you don’t want to double up on certain things, like Vitamin D.  If it is included in the Calcium supplement and then vitamin supplement, you may be overdoing it. Vitamin D is one of those things that you can get too much of unlike Vitamin C which will just be expelled via urination if too much is used.

And I would just like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that using a calcium supplement is mission critical in sugar glider nutrition to balance out the fruits and vegetables that most of us feed in our daily meal preparations.  The driving idea behind our approach to diet is this: we want every bite (excluding treats) to be broadly balanced and nutritious, regardless of what each glider prefers to eat.

Fruits and veggies contain phosphorus to varying degrees.  Calcium balances the phosphorus.  Calcium also needs the presence of certain vitamins in order to be usable by the body, so the vitamins support the calcium absorption (along with providing a wide range of other health benefits) and the calcium helps balance the fruits and vegetables that many of us feed our gliders.

I often hear the question posed like this. Sugar gliders would not have access to vitamin and mineral supplements in the wild, and I want to feed my sugar gliders just like they would eat in the wild, so why do I need to feed these supplements?  On the surface, this is a great question.  But we really can’t feed them like they would eat in the wild and if we could, I know I would not choose that option because sugar gliders, like many wild animals, go through periods of feast and famine.  I could never impose “famine” on my colony to create a more closely aligned to the wild diet. 

Captive diets, if they are good captive diets, will catch the balance and key elements of the free range diet.  In other words, we are seeking a balance or proteins and carbohydrates and being mindful of low fat levels.  The captive diets that are successful all recommend supplementing with calcium and vitamins and this is to maximize the balance that will pay dividends over time.

‘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!