GliderVet Newsletter  |  Sugar Glider Vet Newsletters 2014

GliderVet #145: Variety in Bugs

Variety in Bugs
What’s new you ask? What’s the same? Life seems to be moving quite fast for everyone these days and now that summer is here, I hope many of you are preparing for family vacations, trips to the beach, mountains or big cities. Summer seems to be a time that we get to do new things, bringing variety to the day to day mundane activities. Hence, our topic today is discussing variety for sugar gliders. In GliderVet #143, we spoke about variety in treats. Today we’re going to talk about variety in bugs. Just as we love variety in our meals and activities, so do sugar gliders. Variety keeps things fresh and exciting because just as we can fall into the rut of feeling like we’re living a ho-hum life, so can sugar gliders. But there are reasons other than stimulation to feed variety, so read on to find out more. But first, Arnold has more than a thing or two to say today … Just Sayin!

Arnold T Schwarzenglider

One of our competitors is tryin’ to fake ya out and when you search for SunCoast Sugar Gliders, their site might come up instead! They are tryin to trick ya on purpose! Just sayin that makes me go hmmmm.

So please be warned: Beware of the duper, cuz we don’t want you to get duped into thinkin yer on me little ole website and yer really not! … just sayin.

Ya see, he is paying the Google Man to run ads as SunCoast Sugar Gliders, and he’s “borrowed” pictures and a lot of stuff that Lisa wrote herself, and he is putting it on his website so he can try to fool ya into thinking he is SunCoast! This guy is a stuper duper, just sayin.

Lisa says he can’t borrow stuff without us sayin OK, and she’s gonna talk to a Beagle about this, but me dunno much about that stuff. But I do think me Mum Tree is gonna have the Beagle sniff out the truth and set this good ole boy straight … just sayin.

He sells lots of stuff for all kinds of exotic animals, and fer some reason, he wants the world to think he’s also SunCoast Sugar Gliders and there is only one SunCoast, and that is me and Lisa… uh huh! Snap snap!

He runs a bunch of different websites and sumtimes people call and complain that we switched some of our products and all along they’ve been shopping at the sugar-glider-duper-store … just sayin.

Hey, me don’t lie, and me really wants, loves and appreciates your business, but please don’t get duped. There’s a simple answer to this all. Bookmark to yer faves. Just sayin its that eezy! WE ARE NOT … this is one of the duper’s many websites! Why does sumone need more than one website for selling the same stuff anyway? Just sayin….

One last thought about sumptin else. We still get Dear Arnold letters and someone asked me to comment on foraging toys. So to this I say, forage away! In me humble opinion methinks organized hoomans are just too lazy to look for things!

Now for our featured product this month! Will you please help us develop our community emergency Vet Fund? We showed ya the coffee mug we’re selling for fundraising, and now we have a fridge magnet for only $5 and it helps support a really good cause just for sugar gliders.

And now, heeeeere’s Lisa! What she is just sayin today really bugs me, in a good way!

Variety in Bugs
By Lisa Bordelon

In GliderVet 143 we started conversing about variety in treats. Variety in all foods brings variety to the nutrition levels. Obvious right? Yet, there are many people I speak to who feed mealworms daily and this is not variety, nor healthy. Mealworms are a bit high in fat, and it would be like you eating red meat daily. Most of us are mindful about trying to limit fat intakes in our own diets, and we should be concerned about excessive fat in our sugar glider diets as well. Sugar glider anatomy is quite different from our own. They are not built well to digest fat. They have a “pre-stomach” called a secum, then a stomach and then a short and fast intestinal tract. Food in the secum is fermented. Their stomach does not work like our stomachs. Their anatomy does not support diets too high in fat.

So let’s take a look at some of the basic nutritional levels of the bugs people generally feed sugar gliders and my recommendations. In this discussion, I will predominately discuss canned bugs, but any of these bugs fed live might achieve the highest level of nutrition and will increase stimulation. Fresh is best! The only mention I will make of freeze dried bugs is DON’T. Moisture content is important and there is no moisture in freeze dried bugs. Freeze dried are not nearly as nutritious as canned and canned are only slightly less nutritious than properly prepared live bugs. Huh, what’s properly prepared mean? Live bugs must be properly fed before feeding them to other animals. This process is generally called gut loading. Bugs freshly bought from a pet store or bug farm are not likely to be fully gut loaded. Bugs that aren’t gut loaded aren’t worth feeding. For convenience sake, most people opt to go the canned bug route. There is no gut loading involved with canned products, and there is when maintaining a live farm, which takes time. Kudos to those who take the time to do it! In our fast paced world, you sacrifice little on the nutrition side of the equation going with canned bugs and can save a whole lot of time!

We will review a list of the most popular bugs in the sugar glider community, by type and by brand. It probably won’t surprise you to find out that some sugar gliders can have “brand” preferences. And as glider keepers, you may have preferences as well because different brands have different quality standards and different prices as well! When trying the different brands, we found it rather obvious that the individual brands often look different and smell different than their competitor brands. Size may vary, some may appear juicier and the smell may vary (yeah bugs stink a bit). Here is a comparative list of different bugs and different brands quick reference guide of the protein and fat levels based upon the guaranteed analysis published for each of these popular and superior brands.

Can O Worms: Crude Protein, min, 17.0 % Crude Fat, min, 5.0%
Can O Crickets: Crude Protein, min, 20% Crude Fat, min 5.0%
Can O Grasshoppers: Crude Protein, min, 20.8% Crude Fat, min, 2.2%
Can O Pillars: Crude Protein, min, 15.4% Crude Fat, min, 17.0%
Can O Snails: Crude Protein, min, 18.8% Crude Fat, min .6% (as in less than 1%!)

Gourmet Canned Crickets: Crude Protein, min, 17.0% Crude Fat, min, 2.5%
Gourmet Canned Mealworms: Crude Protein, min, 17.9% Crude Fat, min, 5.9%
Gourmet Canned Grasshoppers: Crude Protein, min 15% Crude Fat, min .5%
Gourmet Canned River Shrimp: Crude Protein, min, 12.5%, Crude Fat, min, 0.2%

Grasshoppers (male): Crude Protein, min, 18.7% Crude Fat, min, 2.6% * These are our medium hoppers.
Grasshoppers XL: Crude Protein, min, 20.8% Crude Fat, min, 2.25%
Wild Flat Head Grasshoppers: Crude Protein, min, 20.8% Crude Fat, min, 2.2%
Crickets: Crude Protein, min 20.0% Crude Fat, min, 5.5%
Silkworms: Crude Protein, min 15% Crude Fat, min, 5.6%
Mealworms: Crude Protein, min 17% Crude Fat, min, 5%
Snails, unshelled: Crude Protein, min 18.8% Crude Fat, min, .6%

The next two bugs are bugs I’m often asked about, and because many people buy these live, I wanted to include this in this comparative review. I’m not aware of any of the quality manufacturers canning these bugs:

Wax Worms Crude Protein, min, 15.5% Crude Fat, min, 22.9% YIKES!
Super Worms Crude Protein, min, 17.4% Crude Fat, min, 17.9%
PLEASE do not feed either of these. The fat content is way too high!

So in conclusion, here are my recommendations on the canned bugs. Not all bugs are created equally. You can see that each brand varies in the guaranteed analysis and even some bugs within the same brand will have different protein and fat percentages. Look at Exo Terra, for example. Large grasshoppers are somewhat less fatty than the smaller hoppers, albeit an insignificant difference. Looking across all brands mealies tend to run highest in fat insofar as the most popular bugs fed to sugar gliders; yet ZooMed crickets are nearly equal in the mealworm fat content, but Fluker’s crickets are half the fat. I can only surmise this has to do with the manufacturing process. Grasshoppers are really low in fat while still maintaining a respectable level of protein. Caterpillars? Look at the chart. The fat is higher than the proteins in a lot of other bugs and is off the richter scale for what is healthy for sugar gliders. PLEASE do not feed the canned caterpillars! The snails and the river shrimp both have a good nutrition ratio of protein and fat, but honestly, I’ve never given them to my sugar gliders. I’ve tried ordering both, but the manufacturers always seem to be out of stock whenever I order. If you’ve tried either snails or river shrimp with your sugar gliders, please email me at and let me know how your gliders took to them in comparison to other bugs. Also feel free to email me if you have a brand preference on a bug we don’t presently carry and I will see what I can do to put it in our lineup!

Viva La Glider (that would be me) is going to Viva Las Vegas next month for the SuperZoo show which is the largest annual pet trade show in the U.S. So I plan to pick up some snails and river shrimp while I’m there to give them a try because I like the nutrition values. We’ve been trying to acquire silkworms for some time, but as you can see from this comparative chart, the fat content is about the same as mealies, so rotating between those two items does not help with the common condition of feeding sugar gliders too much fat in the diet. But the variety in tastes can be a nice thing, and I am such a huge advocate of enrichment in rotation of foods because it just keeps sugar gliders much more interested in life!

There are other brand’s out there, but please be advised that some of these smaller companies do not have the same level of quality control or customer service that we find to be important in our searches for superior products. Additionally, I’ve seen some websites selling canned bugs that are intended for fishing and NOT for pet consumption, so you don’t want to use these types of canned bugs nor do you want to buy live worms or crickets from a bait shop because the standards are not the same as bugs used for pet diets.

WE want to be the store that bugs you! Errr, better said we want to be your one and only store that supplies your bugs to you. We are now offering six packs at great discounts. I’ve done away with all the other combination packages in favor of a better deal for you and a less confusing situation for me! Grab a six pack. The six packs are generously discounted, and bugs do have a long shelf life, so I encourage you to stock up. You see, when I can buy larger quantities from the manufacturers, I can get better pricing that I am more than happy to pass on to you!

Because grasshoppers are so favorable nutrition wise for sugar gliders compared to all the other most popular bugs, I am offering a newsletter special that any brand or package of grasshoppers will be 10% off for the next two weeks! I really want you to try them. I can tell by people’s ordering patterns that mealworms are by far and away the most popular bug that people feed sugar gliders. Maybe we should feed more grasshoppers for their health and fewer mealworms. As Arnold would say … Just Sayin ….

Before I glide off this time, BE SURE to stay tuned for our July newsletter because we have a HUGE contest coming your way! We will announce the first annual Mr. and Ms. SunCoast Sugar Glider pageant. This will be announced in the newsletter and on FaceBook, and if you want to follow the pageant along as it progresses, be sure to follow us on FaceBook because there the gala pageant feeds will be LIVE! This is no ordinary pageant. Arnold and I have come up with a very fun twist on a time honored tradition of honoring the beautiful!

Til next time in good health to you and your sugar gliders!

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