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#1327974 - 02/19/13 08:03 AM Why fruits and vegetables?
Cloudberry Offline
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Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Something has been bugging me for a while, and I'd be interested in hearing what more experienced glider owners might have to say about this.

Why is it that pretty much every sugar glider diet in existence contains fruits and veggies? Do gliders actually eat these things in the wild? I imagine that they might if they were to come across some, but it hardly seems to make up any significant portion of the things that they eat naturally.

I've gotten the impression that Sugar Gliders are actually predatory animals much of the time, and so I worry that the high amount of carbohydrates in their food may actually do more harm than good.

Wouldn't it make more sense to try and work out a diet plan that mimics their natural foods as closely as possible? For instance, trying to create some sort of nectar/sap replacement and feeding that along with good sources of protein (mostly insects would make sense). Bee pollen and/or egg yolks could be used as natural vitamin supplements. The nectar/sap replacement blend could be flavored with safe spices and herbs, with different batches being served every day to prevent boredom.

No need to worry about me starting to feed my gliders a bunch of weird things without consulting a vet. I'm also really not looking to start some sort of diet war. This is just something I've been thinking about, and I would very much like to know what other people think about this.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 08:04 AM)

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#1327977 - 02/19/13 08:13 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
yiyo Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 06/08/11
Posts: 7560
Loc: Long Island, NY
I think that we all would absolutely love to be able to offer our gliders a more "natural" diet in terms of giving them something closer to what they would eat in the wild. But there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

The first is that, quite simply, what they'd eat in the wild isn't readily available everywhere for us to buy. The other is that animals that are in the wild have different dietary needs than ones that are in captivity.

There are ways to make the developed diets more like their natural ones. I try to do this in multiple ways. They get insects every day, mostly in the form of mealworms; but they do get other insects a couple of times a month as well. They also get fresh eucalyptus, apple, and other tree branches weekly. And I give them fresh flowers very often as well. In the summer that's easier because I grow my own, but in the winter it's more difficult because I have to find food grade, organically grown flowers that are on the safe list.....that's a little more challenging crazy
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#1327982 - 02/19/13 08:28 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Jackie_Chans_Mom Offline
Glider Addict

Registered: 05/01/07
Posts: 2511
Loc: Texas
It is true that the needs of captive gliders are different than those of gliders in their natural habitats. It is also true that the lifespan of captive gliders is different than those in the wild. smile

Here is what I shared on TSS previously:
Quote:
The diet of the sugar glider in the wild is based upon seasonal availability and luck in foraging. It is not necessarily what is best for them, it is simply what is available to them.


I am always interested in why people want to mimic diets an animal eats in the wild. This is not something that I personally have any desire to do. I think of other animals - lets take dogs for example - dogs (and sugar gliders) can survive in the wild by hunting and foraging and eating anything they come across that is edible. One of my dogs was rescued from just such a situation. She was alive, but thin and full of parasites and not healthy. But, she was surviving just fine. I want more for her. I want better for her.
The overall life of a sugar glider in the wild is a harder one with a much shorter life span than those in captivity. Though there are stressors and problems that come with captivity, one of the improvements we can make is to their diet. So, I feed them the best, most well rounded diet I can. This means that I'm not mimicing their diet in the wild....I'm doing better.

That's my 2 cents on it. I'd love to hear others. I see this come up a lot in terms of diet and of enrichment opportunities. Every time I see it, I don't see compelling reasons shared to try to replicate these things in the confines of captivity. I can think of a few compelling reasons myself, but I would love to hear the reasons that others have
.
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#1327985 - 02/19/13 08:36 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
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Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: yiyo
I think that we all would absolutely love to be able to offer our gliders a more "natural" diet in terms of giving them something closer to what they would eat in the wild. But there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

The first is that, quite simply, what they'd eat in the wild isn't readily available everywhere for us to buy. The other is that animals that are in the wild have different dietary needs than ones that are in captivity.

There are ways to make the developed diets more like their natural ones. I try to do this in multiple ways. They get insects every day, mostly in the form of mealworms; but they do get other insects a couple of times a month as well. They also get fresh eucalyptus, apple, and other tree branches weekly. And I give them fresh flowers very often as well. In the summer that's easier because I grow my own, but in the winter it's more difficult because I have to find food grade, organically grown flowers that are on the safe list.....that's a little more challenging crazy

Thanks for the quick response, yiyo. I'd like to argue, however, that a lot of natural sugar glider foods (or at least the next best thing) aren't that hard to come by. Diluted maple syrup (the natural, pure kind) is an acceptable replacement for tree sap, even though it comes from a different species of tree than the ones they would naturally feed from. Dilute some honey with water and you pretty much have nectar. Things such as honeydew or manna aren't exactly easy to find, but acacia gum is readily available (although it usually needs to be bought online). Insects are available in living, freeze dried and canned form. Bee pollen (which is pretty much just pollen from many different flowers) isn't hard to find either.

I'm not saying that fruits and vegetables should not be fed at all, but I am a bit confused as to why they make up such a large portion of the foods that captive sugar gliders eat. Perhaps they should mostly be fed as treats.

I'm also not sure that I agree with you on the idea that a captive sugar glider would have different dietary needs than a wild one. They have not been kept as pets for very long at all, and likely need exactly the same things as their wild cousins. They will need less food than a wild glider since they don't use as much energy, but the basic foods should (in a perfect world) be the same.

Giving them flowers and branches is a wonderful idea, and I try to do that as often as I can. They seem to enjoy it. Branches are definitely good for their teeth, and encourage natural foraging behaviors. I'm not certain of how often they actually eat flowers in the wild, but I do give them ones that I have grown myself.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 08:43 AM)

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#1327987 - 02/19/13 08:40 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Jackie_Chans_Mom]
Cloudberry Offline
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Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: Jackie_Chans_Mom
It is true that the needs of captive gliders are different than those of gliders in their natural habitats. It is also true that the lifespan of captive gliders is different than those in the wild. smile

Thank you for responding. I see your point. smile
I don't think, however, that your quote can be taken as evidence of anything. A captive glider is safe from predators, and taken care of by professional veterinarians as soon as they show any sign of illness or injury. These things will definitely prolong an animal's lifespan by quite a bit, and therefore it cannot be said that longer captive lifespans are proof of optimal captive diets. smile

---------------

[Edit] Here's what I'm thinking:
We have to keep in mind that the things that Sugar Gliders eat in the wild are foods that they have evolved to eat over a ridiculously long period of time. They are specialized in their wild diet, as all animals are. There is no other diet that they will be able to digest and utilize in quite the same way. If we do not try to mimic the diet that the Sugar Gliders are optimized for eating, how can we ever know that what we feed them is optimal? I'm much too paranoid to be completely satisfied with gambling on the idea that this is the best we can do because it's worked so far. I may end up getting in touch with my vet (who is an amazingly talented and intelligent woman), and see what she has to say about this.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 09:06 AM)

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#1328013 - 02/19/13 09:50 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Tigerlily Offline
Glider Explorer

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 180
Loc: Kentucky
I'm curious to know what diets you have looked into to make these comparisons. There are a great variety that use bee pollen, egg yolks and whole eggs, acacia, honey, fly pupa and other natural ingredients to make up the diet. Gliders are omnivores in the wild, and do need simple sugars to make up some of their dietary requirements. They are foragers and do eat some plant matter in the wild, so why wouldn't it make sense to feed them a comparable substitute? Most diets also recommend the addition of insects, both for the nutritional content and for enrichment.

I agree with Val, an animal's nutritional needs in the wild versus what they need in captivity are greatly different. This is true of all animal species and has been widely studied by vets. Any time you take a creature away from it's natural habitat, you change it's dietary requirements if only for the simple reason that you've changed it's entire scope of natural activities, no matter how closely you try to mimic its natural surroundings.
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#1328015 - 02/19/13 09:52 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Feather Offline
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Registered: 01/19/08
Posts: 12057
Loc: Wisconsin
With the fact that gliders are omnivores, we add fruits and vegetables to their captive diet.

I bet if you started putting out fruits and vegetables near where wild gliders were living in Australia I bet they would start eating it. Just like feeding the wild birds here.
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#1328028 - 02/19/13 10:44 AM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Imbrium Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 826
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Cloudberry
I'm also not sure that I agree with you on the idea that a captive sugar glider would have different dietary needs than a wild one. They have not been kept as pets for very long at all, and likely need exactly the same things as their wild cousins. They will need less food than a wild glider since they don't use as much energy, but the basic foods should (in a perfect world) be the same.


what sustains wild gliders (ie fulfills their basic needs) isn't necessarily the same as what's *ideal* for them, though - in fact, it probably isn't. their dietary choices are based on a) what's actually available and b) what they think tastes good. they're oblivious to the very concept of "nutrition" as humans know it and, of course, they don't exactly do research to find out what's actually better for them.

think of it this way - if you offered a human 2-year-old a diet that was 50% candy and 50% other (less unhealthy) foods, they'd eat the candy and when it was gone and they were still hungry, they'd eat the other stuff. would they survive? definitely. is that diet ideal? far from it. obviously, a wild glider's diet isn't actually anywhere near as bad for them as a half-candy diet would be for a human - but IF it was, they would still eat it and would still survive (as long as it tasted good and was plentiful) tounge.

and they do have somewhat different dietary needs simply because wild gliders die to other natural causes (predators, for example) before a decent but less-than-ideal would have time to really take a toll on them. pet gliders have a life-span that's like 3x as long as that of a wild glider. without predators, food shortages and the elements to worry about, ideal nutrition becomes more of a concern.
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#1328045 - 02/19/13 12:38 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
josefine Offline
Glider Addict

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 2713
Loc: Perry, Iowa
Could we also compare all the many different types of food that we humans eat from around the world?
Many in the U.S. would definetly not eat what anyone in the Bush Country would.
What they eat for their staple, would be really hard to swallow for us.
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#1328047 - 02/19/13 12:40 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
I'll just shamelessly quote myself:
Quote:
We have to keep in mind that the things that Sugar Gliders eat in the wild are foods that they have evolved to eat over a ridiculously long period of time. They are specialized in their wild diet, as all animals are. There is no other diet that they will be able to digest and utilize in quite the same way.

This is the case with all animals, and it's the reason why cats, for instance, do much better in every way on a diet of mice (or just raw meat, bones and animal bits in general) than they do on a diet consisting of grain-based kibble. Natural selection works in such a way that each creature specializes in a specific kind of diet. This is why dogs wouldn't do well on a grass diet, while cows cannot stay healthy by eating only meat.

Sugar Gliders are, of course, omnivorous creatures. But that doesn't mean that they would eat the same things as every other species of omnivorous creatures would. Every type of animal has very specific needs, and the place in which they evolve (along with their niche in nature) decides what kinds of foods they have been optimized for digesting. Therefore, natural Sugar Glider foods (and possibly things that resemble them) are the only foods that a Sugar Glider's body can truly use in the best way possible. I think that a case can be made, for instance, for Acacia Gum as a rather important part in sugar glider diets. Perhaps they can do just fine without it, but we have no way of knowing how it affects them to not eat such things.

I'm not saying that fruits and veggies are bad. I was just looking to start a conversation on alternatives that might possibly supply the necessary carbohydrates in a way that may be more optimally utilized by Sugar Gliders. smile

---------------

[Edit] The reason why captive diets differ from wild diets is typically a money or convenience issue, and generally has nothing to do with choosing the healthiest diet possible.

Also; I hope that my views on all this have not offended anyone. I was really hoping for a good discussion on this subject, and all of your arguments so far have really helped me to look at this issue from different perspectives. So thank you all.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 12:59 PM)

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#1328050 - 02/19/13 12:59 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Tigerlily Offline
Glider Explorer

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 180
Loc: Kentucky
I'm still curious as to what research you are drawing these conclusions. You will be hard pressed to find many vets that will agree with you that a diet of raw food is better for cats and dogs at this point with the many, highly researched and developed commercially available diets out there. I have worked in the veterinary industry for over a decade and seen these results first hand alongside the vets that treat them.

Many of the diets that we use for our gliders HAVE been reviewed by vets, and while there simply has not been enough time for the comparable extensive research that has been done in other animals, a good deal of veterinarians as well as wildlife specialists in the gliders' native Australia will agree that several of the options we feed are a good substitute. We have to make adaptations to accommodate for this, or we will end up with obese and unhealthy gliders.

You simply cannot ignore the fact that as you change an animal's environment, it's needs change. For example, a glider that is in a domestic situation, no matter HOW much time it gets playing and exercising, is NOT anywhere NEAR using the same energy requirements as it's wild counterpart.
_________________________
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Happily indentured servant to many precious sugar gliders, 3 mischievous dachshunds, 3 horses, and one very patient cat.

www.tigerlilygliders.net

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#1328055 - 02/19/13 01:15 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
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Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
I kind of agree with your last point, and I said it in another post as well. Captive Sugar Gliders will need less food (because they use less energy), but that does not mean that the kind of nutrition that they ingest should change.

I'd like to mention something that may be slightly controversial, however; veterinarians are not dietitians. What little dietary education they get when it comes to cats, for instance, is usually sponsored by cat food companies that want the veterinarians to sell their food. This does not mean that veterinarians should not be trusted, of course (and many of them may have brilliant things to say about feeding animals), but their primary focus is and always has been medicine rather than diets. I don't think that there is anything wrong with consulting veterinarians for these questions, but at the same time trying to educate oneself on the subject, and then finally making a judgement call on what makes the most sense. I could happily send you some interesting scientific studies on the subject of cat food if you wish, but that wasn't exactly what I wanted this thread to be about.

Everything I've said on this so far has been based on the assumption that natural selection determines nutritional needs (which has been irrefutably scientifically proven). There may very well be flaws in my reasoning, and that is why I started this thread. If I think something stupid, I want others to point that out for me so that can make decisions with all available information on hand. smile


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 01:28 PM)

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#1328060 - 02/19/13 01:23 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Tigerlily Offline
Glider Explorer

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 180
Loc: Kentucky
I spent several years studying animal nutrition. I agree with you that many vets do not have specific dietary focuses, and I understand how food companies help in sponsoring. My vet focuses a great deal on diet and does his own research as well. He is a huge believer in using diet to help prevent and treat many illnesses in dogs and cats. I've seen many studies on diets, and none of them will ever say exactly the same thing. Personally, I believe that raw food diets are not optimal feeding plans for our domestic pets and like I said before I know others will disagree with me.

If you want to most closely mimic what they eat in the wild and use a diet based on that, I would suggest looking into the Australian created diets.
_________________________
Jennifer

Happily indentured servant to many precious sugar gliders, 3 mischievous dachshunds, 3 horses, and one very patient cat.

www.tigerlilygliders.net

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#1328062 - 02/19/13 01:30 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Thanks for your suggestion. I think I've looked up most of the diets, but I've probably missed plenty. I'll take a closer look at Australian diets, and contact my vet as well. Perhaps she can talk some sense into me. grin


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 01:32 PM)

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#1328069 - 02/19/13 02:02 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Mastiff_Mama Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 07/01/10
Posts: 917
Loc: Missouri
Just because a human can survive off raw potatoes and beans, doesn't mean it's the best for them. Same goes for any animal. Just because a wild glider eats as a predator in the wild, doesn't mean it's "healthy" on the inside.

I could argue both sides, but I will stick to my point I made above.

Plus, if you want to question a gliders diet, question ALL aspects to be fair. Does your glider get to colonize with many gliders or glide freely in the open wild? A domesticated gliders life is different, which means their dietary needs are different.
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and
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#1328070 - 02/19/13 02:15 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: Mastiff_Mama
Just because a human can survive off raw potatoes and beans, doesn't mean it's the best for them.

That's exactly what I've been saying. No stone age human lived off of raw potatoes and beans; those things came with agriculture - they are unnatural human foods, and therefore not optimal for us.

Okay, I'll approach this from the different angle. If we do not all agree that a natural diet is best for them (which I'm still adamantly convinced of when considering how natural selection works), how do we know which dietary modifications to make? How do we know that the things we choose to feed are better? Should we just experiment until we find the best alternative? How do we know that just because an established diet seems to work, it's the best alternative? How do we know that the things we choose to feed our gliders do not actually harm them in different ways, just because they appear to be healthy?

At least, if we were working towards the goal of creating a natural diet, we would know what we were trying to accomplish, and we would know reasonably well how to accomplish it. As things are now, there seems to be quite a lot of guessing going on.

---------------

I really hope this wasn't offensive to anyone. I'm just trying to express my thoughts on things that have been worrying me.

[Edit] Also, as I've said before, a captive animal's required energy intake decreases; that does not mean that their basic nutritional needs change in any way. They need less food, not different food.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 02:23 PM)

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#1328080 - 02/19/13 02:52 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
GlidersNW Offline
Glider Lover

Registered: 06/23/11
Posts: 324
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Why fruits and veggies? Well, wild gliders eat wild insects and other prey among other things. What does this prey and insects eat? Vegetation, even if it is a couple steps down the food chain. In example, sugar glider eats lizard which already ate insect which already ate leaf. All wild caught food has been gut-loaded with things that the sugar glider may not immediatly seek out if other foods are present.
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#1328084 - 02/19/13 03:11 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: GlidersNW]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: GlidersNW
Why fruits and veggies? Well, wild gliders eat wild insects and other prey among other things. What does this prey and insects eat? Vegetation, even if it is a couple steps down the food chain. In example, sugar glider eats lizard which already ate insect which already ate leaf. All wild caught food has been gut-loaded with things that the sugar glider may not immediatly seek out if other foods are present.

Thank you for responding, but if I understand what you're trying to say correctly, then I must say that that isn't exactly how nutrition works. smile

Predators, for instance, cannot eat the things that their prey eats. They simply cannot digest plants properly, much less utilize the nutrients. Because of this, they "cheat". They let other animals do the tedious job of digesting and getting the nutrients out of plant life (which is quite a lot more difficult when compared to digesting other animals), then they eat the herbivores, and get their nutrients in a more refined and concentrated form.

It's mostly the same with Sugar Gliders and insects. Sugar Gliders are a fairly predatory species, and they eat other things when there are no insects to be found. But just because they get plenty of nutrients from insects, that doesn't mean that they would be able to properly absorb and utilize the nutrients in the things that the insects eat. Even if they, in theory, should be able to eat the food. smile

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#1328085 - 02/19/13 03:13 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
ihana1894 Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 669
Loc: niagara falls,ny
Sugar gliders are omnivores. They eat meat and plants. What an animal can digest depends on the bacteria growing in there intestines. If they don't have the bacteria then they can't digest it. When raising a glider in captivity the joey gains this bacteria very young either through coprophagy(eating feces) or the mothers milk. Because the captive mother was fed fruits and vegetables and insects the mother has the necessary bacteria to pass on to the offspring who will then have what is needed to digest its diet of fruits and vegetables. This is why it is okay to feed this diet to captive gliders.
Wild gliders have bacteria to digest what there parents ate in the wild.
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#1328090 - 02/19/13 03:22 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
That's a good point. smile
What I'm trying to say, though, is that it's one thing to be able to digest something; it's another to be able to properly make use of the nutrients. When an animal eats things that they have not been naturally adapted to eat (genetically, not with regard to digestive bacteria), bad things usually happen. It's not always obvious that anything is happening at all, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's risk free.

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#1328092 - 02/19/13 03:30 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
ihana1894 Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 669
Loc: niagara falls,ny
sugar gliders eat plants in the wild, just as they eat insects. The main component that many animals including us cant digest is chlorophyll. Unless you have built up the enzymes in your body to digest them. They gain the same amount of nutrients from the plant as we would and they can digest the chlorophyll because they are evolutionarily capable of it. They have been naturally adapted to eat plants. thus they are omnivores. If they were insectivores entirely or carnivores then plants would be out of the question.
Genetically they have adapted to eat plants, digestively it is passed on from the parents.
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#1328093 - 02/19/13 03:43 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
I actually didn't know that they could digest chlorophyll. That's very interesting. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I always assumed that they would eat some plants in the wild; I've just been trying to say that maybe the captive diet should not consist primarily of plants, since I've gotten the impression that they do not make up such a large portion of the things that they eat in the wild. I may very well be wrong, though.

[Edit] Couldn't find any information at all on Sugar Gliders and chlorophyll. Could you point me in the right direction? It sounded interesting. smile


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 04:19 PM)

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#1328098 - 02/19/13 04:10 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
ihana1894 Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 669
Loc: niagara falls,ny
I learned it in collage a few days ago tounge not sure if I could really give you a reference to it.
Perhaps someone will know where to find it.
It just makes sense, sugar gliders are omnivores, omnivores eat plants. Plant contain chlorophyll and other nutrients. They, just as we, digest these plants and get said nutrients.
Cows eat grass, they have four stomachs just to do this, but that is an evolutionary development because grass isn't very nutritional so they need the extra help to get every bit of nutrient out of the grass. We, gliders and humans even dogs, don't need said help because we aren't eating grass constantly that has such low nutrients. What our gliders aren't getting nutrient wise they are given in insects and staples.
If they could not digest plants correctly we would have a lot of skinny, diarrhea producing gliders around.
Have you ever seen a cat on a vegetarian diet?
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#1328103 - 02/19/13 04:29 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: ihana1894]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: ihana1894
Have you ever seen a cat on a vegetarian diet?

Ugh, yes. Horrible animal cruelty.

I'm not really suggesting that the current diets are bad (although I can see how I may have given that impression), I just kind of think that it is likely that there are ways to make sugar glider food better. smile

This book (sugar glider information starting on page 95) gives me the impression that plants really do not make up any significant portion of the wild diet of sugar gliders. I only read through the text quickly, though, and I might have missed something. The gliders seem to eat plant exudates and pollen, but I do not get the impression that they eat much of the plants/trees themselves. There may be better information elsewhere, but in that case my google-fu is severely lacking. smile


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 04:31 PM)

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#1328126 - 02/19/13 05:29 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Jackie_Chans_Mom Offline
Glider Addict

Registered: 05/01/07
Posts: 2511
Loc: Texas
Quote:
Should we just experiment until we find the best alternative? How do we know that just because an established diet seems to work, it's the best alternative? How do we know that the things we choose to feed our gliders do not actually harm them in different ways, just because they appear to be healthy?


I'm curious what scientific information you would consider valid. ? What would you need to see to change your mind?

While research is being conducted, we do have to rely on empirical and anecdotal evidence as our best guide. This community has a wealth of such evidence collectively. Do you suggest we should ignore that? Do we ignore the number of gliders thriving on these diets? The number of gliders recovering from serious illness on these diets? The number of gliders living well past 10 years of age on these diets? The lab work showing improved liver and kidney values after switching to one of these diets? The experience of many owners who describe and document staining decreasing, weight stablizing, coat thickness improving, undesirable behaviors decreasing and much more after switching to these diets? There is just an overwhelming amount of information suggesting that the most popular diet plans used in this community ARE healthy and good choices for our gliders. What evidence do you have that they are not?


Quote:
When an animal eats things that they have not been naturally adapted to eat (genetically, not with regard to digestive bacteria), bad things usually happen. It's not always obvious that anything is happening at all, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's risk free.

What sort of "bad things" do you expect to see? What should we all be on guard for now after all these years of feeding this way? What risks do you perceive we are imposing upon our gliders?

This community is great in many ways. One such way is by participation in necropsy studies and research. A wealth of information has been obtained through this research, none of which, so far, suggests that feeding fruits and veggies is a bad choice for our captive bred gliders.

I very much appreciate forward thinking and I am always telling people to think about their pet care choices and WHY they make those choices, so I enjoy this type of discussion.

Perhaps you could lay out for us a diet plan that you think would be "better" and allow discussion about that. So far, I haven't been convinced by any scientific, empirical or anecdotal evidence that fruits and vegetables are not good for our captive bred and captive kept gliders. Do you have such evidence?


Edited by Jackie_Chans_Mom (02/19/13 05:35 PM)
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#1328141 - 02/19/13 06:10 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
I have no evidence at all. I'm only speculating. smile
Furthermore, I would never suggest that people should abandon diets that obviously work well based purely upon an idea that happened to get into my head. I mostly started this thread to see if anyone else had similar thoughts, or to give people a chance to show me information that I might have missed.

I started thinking about this after an interesting experience with my cats, after switching them to a more species appropriate natural diet (raw meat and bones), which is a slightly controversial choice that I know not everyone will approve of. I read up on the subject for many months before even considering it, so it was something that I chose to do after careful consideration. I used to give them canned food of the highest quality available, and yet the difference in my cats after the switch has been amazing. Their fur is thicker and shinier, their teeth are in fantastic condition (where before the oldest cat had some problems). They are leaner, stronger, and even their breaths have improved. All of the cats, even the oldest one (nine years) look the healthiest that I've ever seen them.

This got me interested in species appropriate human food, and I totally geeked out on that subject for a while before making some changes in my own life, with some fascinating results.

This is personal, anecdotal evidence and really proves nothing, but other than the things that I've personally experienced, it makes sense from the perspective of natural selection. The food that a species has evolved to eat is the food that that species is best able to make use of. That is why I started considering trying to find a similar way of feeding my sugar gliders, in the hopes of giving them the best that I possibly can. I'm not sure that I would be qualified to actually create an appropriate diet for sugar gliders, so for now it's mostly just an idea. Perhaps when I talk to my vet she'll be able to offer me some insights on the subject. I don't want to experiment on my babies unless I know what I'm doing.

My vain hope would be, that given a "perfect" diet (which is a silly idea, I know), perhaps we could have gliders living even longer than they do today. smile

[Edit] Some of my posts may have seemed unnecessarily critical of extant diets. If that is the case, then I apologize. That wasn't my intention. I was just hoping for an interesting discussion that might lead to something good.

I could try to create some sort of basic diet idea to demonstrate what I mean. Not sure if there would be any interest, however. I seem to be fairly alone in having these thoughts. smile


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 06:23 PM)

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#1328145 - 02/19/13 06:23 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Tigerlily Offline
Glider Explorer

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 180
Loc: Kentucky
You do have to consider though, that when we breed animals in captivity, we begin to eliminate natural selection. I do understand the point you are trying to make, but even in a species as recently domesticated as sugar gliders, we are slowly further and further removing them from their wild relatives. True natural selection (as in only the strongest, most fit animals survive) is now no longer occurring when humans intervene.
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www.tigerlilygliders.net

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#1328150 - 02/19/13 06:35 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
Very good point.
I'd say, however, that human controlled selection (breeding) usually never focuses on nutritional needs. In the wild, animals die if they cannot make use of the resources around them - that's how the ones that survive end up more and more nutritionally specialized with each generation. In captivity, the animals chosen to breed (and therefore the genes that are being passed on) are typically chosen for appearance and personality. It could be argued that since breeders usually choose to breed healthy animals (or at least they should), the animals that breed are the ones that do best on a captive diet. That's a valid argument, but it would take thousands of years (at least) for any significant change to occur in the nutritional needs of captive sugar gliders. smile

[Edit] Hm. Just realized that my post sounded kind of condescending. Sorry for sounding like I was trying to explain how natural selection works. I babble when I'm interested in something. blush


Edited by Cloudberry (02/19/13 06:43 PM)

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#1328304 - 02/20/13 12:27 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
KopyKat Offline
Joey Member

Registered: 08/14/12
Posts: 106
Loc: Central Ohio
Surviving in the wild is not thriving. Sure we could mimic a gliders natural diet to a 'T' and we'd more then likely have a lot of very sick animals. In the wild, an animal is in constant competition for everything, even within it's community. A wild colony of gliders may help keep eachother safe and find food, but eating will be split into who got to what first and who can over power another more. So even within the group the nutrition needs would tend to differ.
The nutritional needs would most definitely vary because they would be spending much of their time foraging (a behavior I try hard to make my gliders mimic) so they'd be using more nutrients such as complex carbs to fuel their little bodies. In captivity there isn't as big a need for those types so we can focus our energies on making them healthy with vitamins and other things we know they need not just to survive but the thrive.
Think about the difference between an athlete and a person working in a cubicle. If the cubicle worker got the same caloric/carb/simple surgar intake as the athlete, the cubicle worker would be massively obese because their body doesn't demand such intake of nutrients but the athlete does require a higher nutrient intake simply because they are much more active. When we demand more from our bodies they demand more from us, likewise if we sit on the couch and lounge we don't need the energy producing sugars as much so that need decreases. Think about what happens when you give a child a candy bar then expect them to sit still for an hour, you'd probably have better luck crossing rapids on stilts.
This is just my experience and from everything I've taken from my classes and my own independent study. I can definitely see why you'd ask this question but I'd have to agree with Val, the sheer number of healthy gliders combinded with expanded life spans simply can't be ignored but at the same time there will always be a better way to feed our fur kids we just have to find it and stick with what works in the present.
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#1328319 - 02/20/13 01:46 PM Re: Why fruits and vegetables? [Re: Cloudberry]
Cloudberry Offline
In Pouch

Registered: 03/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Sweden
That isn't exactly how nutrition works, as I've said a few times now. An animal specializes in a specific type of diet through natural selection. That is the diet that they are best able to digest, and it contains a certain balance of nutrition that their bodies will be able to optimally utilize. I'm not making this up; any biology book will say the same thing. smile

Now, it's possible that the captive diets that we use now are in fact able to mimic a natural sugar glider diet very well. Since they work, it is because they provide the proper nutrients in the proper way. They work because they resemble what the animals would naturally eat; not because they are better.


Edited by Cloudberry (02/20/13 01:47 PM)

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