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Dirty Secrets About Sugar Glider Foods

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The Myth That Pellet Diets Are Bad

Glider Complete

We are not oblivious to the skepticism new glider owners show towards pellet diets. We believe this uncertainty comes from reading about someone who was dissatisfied using a low-quality pellet diet, and because that is the first information that got absorbed by a new glider owner, it is what sticks. Another reason pellet diets are surrounded by bad rumors, is because the first sellers of sugar glider pellets happened to also be the largest mill broker in the country. This company mass produced low-quality pellets that of course, created low-quality reviews. This started the overall mindset that all pellet diets are inferior. However, outdated gossip forums shouldn’t be what dictates the thoughts and opinions of new glider owners. And large mill brokers creating the cheapest pellet possible, shouldn’t hold reputable companies like our self from producing premium healthy diets.

Like anything else, there are low-quality pellet diets and high-quality pellet diets. Unlike the mill brokers who produced low-quality diets 20 years ago (and still continue to today), Exotic Nutrition created a formula for sugar glider pellets based on the persistence of owners, and with the help of veterinarians, exotic professionals, and nutritional experts. Our 10 years of hands on manufacturing experience and successful pet food formulations, have enabled us to develop some of the highest quality exotic pet foods available. Not to mention, Exotic Nutrition has never supported mill brokers, been a supplier for them, or been in the breeding business. We have been 100% focused on nutrition since day one. We even support the small independent breeders and rescues across the country, whose mission is in-line with ours; for gliders to be happy and healthy, whether you’re breeding them or feeding them. We support them by offering breeder/rescue discounts, so they can continue breeding the safe way, with care. We hope the aid we give to these small individual breeders/rescues will help diminish these mill brokers one day.

Some owners are not skeptical of pellet diets because of the low-quality diets from the past, but actually from their un-exotic look. It seems to be a mindset of exotic pet owners that a staple, mundane pellet food isn't 'exotic' enough...when in reality the pellets have more nutritional variation than what many homemade diets consist of. It’s not just about vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats…but the correct balance of each. A simple pellet diet with a guaranteed analysis, is far safer than mixing seemingly random fruits and vegetables together. If an owner's main goal is to make a glider's meal look exotic and beautiful, they need to recognize nutritional necessities are getting left behind.

Sugar Glider in No Mess Feeding StationMany members of forums swear up and down that “every and all pellet diets will kill your glider and that is absolute truth”. When anyone makes aggressive statements like that, without giving evidence, it should raise some flags. What evidence we do have is that thousands of owners have been feeding pellet diets for the past 10+ years and their gliders have lived long, healthy lives. If pellet diets were unhealthy for gliders, owners would be able to notice this and stop buying it, and companies would be forced out of business. However, this doesn’t happen. Therefore, the "all pellet diets are horrible" philosophy is hard to understand. Our long-term customers and the overwhelming positive reviews for our diets speak for themselves. 

With all of this said, we still offer non-pellet diets and supplements for those who wish to continue making homemade formulas, read our Recommendations for Sugar Glider Food & Basic Feeding Guide for more information. We also do not mean to discredit online forums, we are happy they exist and know they provide an abundance of useful information to glider owners. We simply try to remind all owners not to be narrow-minded on certain subjects, and to look to multiple sources on all issues. We encourage owners to educate themselves using other websites, forums, and books, while being sure to check the dates on all articles to see if they are current. We learn more and more about sugar gliders each year, information from 5+ years ago may not be relevant or correct today.

Sugar Glider Inside Ceramic Feed Station





The Myth That Gliders Can't Eat Pellets

Many people have the opinion that gliders are solely “sap suckers” who can never, and will never eat a pellet. The label sap sucker gives an impression of not chewing anything or not eating anything solid and this just isn’t true. To even get at the sap in trees, gliders rip and tear at the bark until it "bleeds", then they lap it up. If they return to the tree later and the sap has dried hard, they still munch it up. Even with their fruits and vegetables we will often see them chew, suck all the juices out of the food, and then spit out the substance pieces. You will see some gliders eat pellets in a similar way. They chew the food in their mouth, extract the moisture and nutrients, and discard remains. It's called "spittings", they will smush and grind the food down with their teeth to extract everything, then spit out the excess. It's totally normal. If your gliders are not taking to a diet right away, we recommend reading our Introducing New Foods to Gliders article.

What Are Pellets?

The majority of Exotic Nutrition foods are pelletized. This means the ingredients used in our foods, including grains, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables etc., are initially mixed together in large mixing bins with an auger. The ingredients are then put through a pelleting machine.

Basically the pellets are formed from the exact ingredients provided; there is no ‘puffing’, therefore the finished product is a solid food (no air, and no 'cooking'). This finished pellet contains an extremely large amount of nutrition per volume. A one-ounce dish full of a pellet food can provide as much nutrition as a 4-ounce dish full of an extruded product. In reality, offering ¼ of a dish of pellet food, is similar to offering an entire dish of an extruded food. Our pellet diets are nutrient-dense, made fresh with locally harvested ingredients, and shipped direct to your door.

What Is Extrusion?

Extrusion processing is a manufacturing method that some companies elect to use to produce their Sugar Glider foods. Unbelievably, even some of the Sugar Glider foods currently sold as ‘Vet Recommended’ are manufactured this way. Some veterinarians are highly knowledgeable about food ingredients and nutrition, but do not know much about pet food manufacture, nor do they take into consideration the processing methods involved to arrive at a finished product ... especially how manufacturing processes affect the nutritional values of the ingredients. Here at Exotic Nutrition ... we are experts in this field. Our 10 years of hands on manufacturing experience and successful pet food formulations, have enabled us to develop some of the highest quality exotic pet foods available. 

The following are examples of extruded Sugar Glider foods:

1) Pretty Pet

2) Glider-R-Chow (Pocket Pets)

3) Happy Glider (Suncoast Sugar Gliders)

4) Vets Pride (Nutrimax)

5) Wholesome Balance (Suncoast Sugar Gliders)

Extrusion processing destroys much of the nutrients in the grains used to produce the pet foods. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The only advances made in the extrusion process are those that will cut costs … regardless of how the processes will alter the nutrient content of the final product. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. Cooking(extrusion)and other processing of meat and by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their nutritional value. The extrusion process inherently destroys some nutrients (vitamins A, E, and B1 are especially susceptible).

To make extruded pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must “fortify” them with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, their quality may be extremely variable, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy many of the nutrients the ingredients had to begin with. Proteins are especially vulnerable to heat, and become damaged, or “denatured,” when cooked. Because dry food ingredients are cooked twice in the extrusion process — first during rendering and again in the extruder — problems are much more common than with pelleted, canned, or homemade foods. Altered proteins may also contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.

During the extrusion process, the food expands or “puffs” into its final shape. An extruded food is ‘puffed’ which means high volume and low weight … a cup full of extruded food can weigh 1/4 as much as a cup full of pellet food. Less weight per volume also means less nutrition for the same volume of food.

The microscopic effects of extrusion on the proteins "Zeins," which comprise the majority of proteins in corn, are located in spherical organelles called protein bodies. During extrusion, these protein bodies are completely disrupted and deformed. The extrusion process breaks down the organelles, disperses the proteins and the proteins become toxic. When they are disrupted in this way, you have absolute chaos in your food, and it can result in a disruption of the nervous system.

In conclusion, most extruded sugar glider foods are extremely hard. Extruded foods will typically last for up to a year, but be aware of companies that try to sell you a large volume ‘2 year supply’ all at once. This is typically done by a company because the food is not very palatable (doesn’t appeal to your pet’s taste), hence you are stuck with 2 years worth. Along with that, for the entire 2nd. year … you would be offering your pet a product that has been sitting around (becoming stale) for a very long time. Not a very logical feeding method ... to say the least.


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Please Note: Exotic Nutrition is not in a position to provide specific health and care guidelines on an individual basis. Please visit our animal info tabs or consider purchasing a care guide book for additional information. If you have a health or pet emergency issue, please notify your veterinarian or a specialized technician.

Exotic Nutrition
270 Enterprise Drive
Newport News, Virginia 23603

+ 757.988.0301

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