GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2007

GliderVet # 60: Calcium to Phosphorus Ratios in Food

This Month in the GliderVet Newsletter

Greetings Glider Groupies, Glider Newbies and Glider Wanna-bes! Welcome to the February edition of the GliderVet News. This month we are going to explore that very exciting topic of Calcium / Phosphorus ratios. OK, I admit, this may be one of the most boring newsletters we’ve ever offered, but it truly is very important information. You may want to print these tables so they are handy in your glider meal prep area to refer to on a regular basis.

Just a reminder that on March 1, due to the 3 years of annual price increases we have been hit with by UPS, we will be raising our shipping costs from $5 per shipment to $6 per shipment. No matter how many items in your order, shipping will be only $6 per order anywhere in the "lower 48" United States, even if you are ordering cages. To help offset this shipping price increase for our frequent purchasers of Zookeeper's Secret, we will be decreasing the price on this sugar glider staple food by $1 at the same time.

I’d also like to make one more quick announcement before we glide on into this month’s topic. Our Nail-O-Matic product has now been widened to offer a more snug and secure fit. We do indeed listen to your concerns and suggestions and when Arnold waves his magic meal worm, we get busy on product improvements!

Please remember that SunCoast Sugar Gliders' Nail-O-Matic nail trimmer track is the original patented nail trimmer with paw pad protection. Some of our competitors liked this idea so much, they attempted to copy our product, but in order to avoid violating our patent, they left out the paw pad protection.

While we feel it is not very nice to steal other people’s ideas, we feel very strongly that cutting back on safety features is a big giant NO NO. So if you want the safest nail trimming device, stick with Arnold’s original patented Nail-O-Matic. After all, who cares more about sugar gliders than sugar gliders themselves?!

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.

Calcium / Phosphorous Ratio Tables =========================
by Lisa

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 more Calcium 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.

Food Ca:P Ratio
Alfafa Sprouts 0.5:1
Apple, with skin 1.1:1
Apple, without skin 0.6:1
Apricot 0.7:1
Asparagus 0.5:1
Avocado * 0.3:1
Banana 0.3:1
Beans, Green 1.1:1
Beet Greens 3.0:1
Beets 0.4:1
Blackberries 1.5:1
Blueberries 0.6:1
Broccoli 0.7:1
Brussel Sprouts 0.6:1
Cabbage, Chinese 2.8:1
Cabbage, Green 2.0:1
Cabbage, Red 1.2:1
Cantaloupe 0.6:1
Carob 4.4:1
Carrots 0.6:1
Cauliflower 0.5:1
Celery 1.5:1
Chard, Swiss 1.1:1
Cherry 0.8:1
Chicory 2.1:1
Collard Greens 14.5:1
Corn ** 0.02:1
Crab Apple 1.2:1
Cucumber 0.7:1
Dandelion Greens 2.8:1
Dates 0.8:1
Eggplant 0.3:1
Endive (Escarole) 1.9:1
Figs 2.5:1
Figs, dried 2.1:1
Grapes *** 1.4:1
Kale 2.4:1
Kiwi 0.7:1
Leeks 1.7:1
Lettuce, Iceburg **** 1.0:1
Lettuce, Loose Leaf 2.7:1
Lettuce, Romaine 0.8:1
Mango 0.9:1
Melon, Honeydew 0.9:1
Nectarine 0.3:1
Orange 2.3:1
Papaya 4.8:1
Parsley, dried 4.2:1
Parsley, fresh 2.4:1
Peach 0.4:1
Pear 1.1:1
Peas 0.2:1
Pineapple 1.0:1
Plum 0.4:1
Potato, Sweet 0.8:1
Prunes 0.7:1
Pumpkin 0.5:1
Radish 1.1:1
Raisins *** 0.5:1
Raspberries 1.8:1
Soybean 1.0:1
Spinach 2.0:1
Spinach, Mustard 7.5:1
Squash, Butternut 1.5:1
Squash, Spaghetti 1.9:1
Squash Summer 0.6:1
Squash, Winter 1.0:1
Star Fruit (Carambola) 0.2:1
Strawberry 0.7:1
Tangerine 1.4:1
Tofu 1.1:1
Tomato 0.2:1
Turnip 1.0:1
Turnip Greens 4.5:1
Watercress 2.0:1
Watermelon 0.9:1
Yam 0.3:1
Zucchini 0.5:1

* 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!

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Viva La Glider! Arnold

SunCoast Sugar Gliders

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