This is an article that I personally feel cannot wait. This is also on our list to Texas A&M, but sometimes the right thing to do is to share what we know now and to give the scientific explanations later. I am compelled to share this with you somewhat prematurely because for years, our care sheet information has suggested that you feed watery foods to your sugar gliders as part of the diet
rotation. Watery foods would include a variety of melons and grapes. As we learn new things, I feel it is our responsibility to not only adjust our own practices, but to share this with you as well.
Did you know that a grape controversy even existed? I’m starting to see them as the grapes of wrath and will no longer recommend them as a good fruit to feed sugar gliders.
My suspicions about grapes started as I reviewed events in hindsight, but first indications came to me several years ago. We often get calls from folks with “mystery deaths”, and while I have no way to realistically help folks find the absolute answer of why their sugar glider died, my first question to them ALWAYS concerns diet
. Now for me, it’s no mystery that a sugar glider will pass prematurely when a fed a diet
of cat food and peanuts. And believe it or not, there are still new sugar glider keepers who are given such information from various breeders
and pet stores. While those numbers are dwindling as sugar glider education improves, it still happens and we all know what dreadful fate can come of that.
There have been, however, quite a few cases of mystery deaths where I was completely clueless, but I started noticing a trend where even those folks feeding a really good diet
to their gliders were losing animals unexpectedly. Some folks who felt they just had to know what happened forked out the big bucks to bring their dearly departed to a veterinarian
for necropsy, and still came up empty handed. The trend that I noticed was that on many occasions, grapes seemed to be a common denominator.
But who am I to scorn the sweet delicious grape? It has never been our intention to simply editorialize in the newsletter and this is not something that will become part of a new format or platform for us. Empirical data is important. Experiential evidence can often support that found to be fact by science, but we’ve been reluctant to ever rely on experiential data only.
If it were not for this next event, I would still be silent on this subject, but my gut instinct keeps telling me otherwise. I was discussing my theory on grapes with an associate of mine and she felt that my assertions may be right on. She told me that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is looking into a connection between kidney failure in canines and the ingestion of grapes and raisins. From several of the sugar glider necropsies (grapes were often present in the routine diet
), kidney issues had been cited, but no direct connection to particular foods was indicated. In the ASPCA information I was able to locate, the exact role of raisins and grapes are unclear, but seemingly directly related to the events.
I stopped feeding grapes to my sugar gliders nearly a year ago, waiting on more empirical data to rely on. However, I continue to hear stories and I feel that it would be less than responsible of me to sit on this any longer.
And I wish to make this next point perfectly clear. There has been NO direct connection nor direct studies done with sugar gliders and grapes/raisins. And even our more popular friend, man’s best friend, who gets a lot of research money on their behalf is still waiting on results. From a realistic point of view, studies this specific in nature for animals like sugar gliders are not likely to happen any time soon (or ever). I often warn people about extrapolating their knowledge of other animals and applying it to sugar glider husbandry. Sugar gliders are their own unique species. But in light of the grapes being so close to so many events, I’ve made a personal decision to avoid grapes in my sugar glider diets
. Now I simply want to give you the option to make your own gut call on this one as well.
This is the first place I read about grapes not being such a great idea, but then I am a newbie so what do I know?