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Dirty Secrets About Sugar Glider Foods

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The Myths About Pellet Diets

Glider Complete

Some online forums or Facebook pages have people that swear up and down that certain sugar glider foods "will kill your glider and that is the absolute truth”. When anyone makes aggressive statements like that, with little supporting evidence, it should raise some flags. The truth is, there is not one food or combination of ingredients that has been proven to be the best diet for sugar gliders. Every year we are learning more about sugar glider nutrition and we can move closer to that goal of the perfect diet. In the meantime, we are always working hard to study and improve existing diets in order to create even higher quality products for our customers. There are hundred of thousands of pets who have been eating Exotic Nutrition pellet diets for the past decade and their pets have lived long, healthy lives. If a certain product was to be unhealthy for gliders, pet owners would be able to notice this and stop buying it, and the company would be forced out of business. However, this doesn’t happen. Therefore, it make sense that a specific product that has been fed to gliders for many years and has great results is a good product. Our long-term customers and the overwhelming positive reviews for our diets speak for themselves. 

Some pet owners have been led to believe that sugar gliders can only be fed an "exotic" diet of fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods that can (but may not) be part of the natural diet in the wild. This can lead to the false idea that a staple 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 staple 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.

Some pellet diets are also called "kibble" or "cereal". Like anything else, there are low-quality pellet diets and high-quality pellet diets. Some companies throw together the cheapest food that they can make which ends up with low-quality ingredients and nutritional deficiencies. On the otherhand, here at Exotic Nutrition we created a formula for sugar glider pellets with the help of veterinarians, exotic professionals, and nutritional experts that has been tried and tested by thousands of sugar gliders over many years of study. Our 20 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. Exotic Nutrition focuses on producing healthy foods that will allow our pets to live long, happy lives. We do not breed or sell sugar gliders; we have been 100% focused on nutrition since day one. We even support rescues and nonprofits across the country by offering discounts, so they can care for these animals with ease.

Sugar Glider in No Mess Feeding Station

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. As mentioned, we learn more and more about sugar gliders each year so information from a few years ago may not be relevant or correct today.

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. In the wild, to access 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.

How are Exotic Nutrition Pellets Made?

The majority of Exotic Nutrition foods are pelletized, but not extruded. 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. In this process, the pellets are formed from the exact ingredients provided; there is no cooking, therefore the finished product is a solid food (no air or puffing). 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. Our pellet diets are nutrient-dense, made fresh with locally harvested ingredients, and shipped direct to your door.

What Is Extrusion?

Sugar Glider Inside Ceramic Feed Station

An extruded food is often very light weight, puffed-up, and referred to as "kibble" or "cereal" rather than a pellet. Extrusion processing is a manufacturing method that some companies elect to use to produce their pet foods. The main benefit of the extrusion process is that it allows fast production, therefore it is cheaper to make. The negative effects of the extrusion process for the food itself include high starch content, protein denaturation, destruction of Vitamin A, loss of amino acids, and increase of glycemic index which can increase rates of tooth decay. The following are examples of companies who extrude their Sugar Glider foods:

  1. Pet Pro Happy Glider
  2. Pocket Pets Glide-R-Chow
  3. The Pet Glider Brunch
  4. Critter Love Kibble
  5. Suncoast  Wholesome Balance

The harsh manufacturing practices destroy the nutrients in the ingredients (although corn is the first ingredient in most of these foods so the nutrients are little 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 — nutritional value is usually lower than with pelleted, canned, or homemade foods. Altered proteins may also contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Most of these companies outsource the manufacturing process of their foods, as they do not have a history in pet food manufacturing. 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 20 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. As mentioned, we have never been in the breeding business, we have been 100% focused on nutrition since day one, and we are the only company who can say that.

Be wary of companies that try to sell you large volumes of food or supplements (180 day supply) all at once. The nutrients in food and supplements with denature over time, meaning they will lose their nutritional value. This is not a very logical feeding method to say the least. Here at Exotic Nutrition, we recommend purchasing food in small portions (4-8 weeks supply), for optimal freshness and quality. 



The Myth That Corn is Good

Some companies sell sugar glider food that has corn at the top of the ingredient label - but is it really nutritional? The glider community as a whole agrees giving gliders corn on the cob is acceptable as long as it is only once in a blue moon as a treat. So why would you want to make it one of the main ingredients in their daily staple diet?  There’s certainly nothing unique about corn’s content that makes it a standout ingredient- so why is it included? Simply because it's a cheap and tasty ingredient. Companies that advertise corn as a "nutritional" ingredient are providing a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Products which rely on corn are typically priced lower to target price sensitive customers, which is completely understandable. On the other hand, you may see some pet foods priced very high with corn as the main ingredient. For example, two of the most expensive sugar glider foods available- Pocket Pets Glide-R-Chow and Critter Love Fruity Kibble- are both made with corn as the main ingredient. This is just a simple case of price gouging and greed at the expense of the sugar glider. 

Corn is more often than not genetically modified, and although many people call corn a vegetable, it is actually a grain, which provide starchy carbohydrates. It converts to sugar in the body, which has a negative effect on your pet. Sugar puts stress on the organs and causes GI tract upset. The glycemic index is a way of measuring the tendency of a specific food to raise the blood sugar level of an animal. The higher the index, the greater the risk of an unhealthy rise in blood sugar. Compared to most other ingredients used in making pet food, corn has a higher glycemic index. Here are the actual glycemic index figures for a few common pet food ingredients:

corn in bowl

  • Corn meal (69)
  • Corn (53)
  • Wheat (41)
  • Chicken (0)

Corn is basically used to dilute the ingredients found in many processed pet foods and make them less expensive for the manufacturer and the consumer. By spending a little bit more time researching the ingredients in your pet food, you can provide much more in terms of protein, nutritional benefits and overall health. Biological value is a scientific method of determining how protein is utilized after it’s ingested and can be put on a scale from one to one hundred. Protein from eggs or soy are much higher in nutritional value compared to corn. Although corn can provide some protein, this protein does not contain all necessary amino acids and is not nearly as bioavailable as any animal source, such as chicken or eggs. In a nutshell, corn makes any pet food you find it is less expensive to produce. And it does this by diluting a recipe’s more costly, high-quality ingredients. Although pets can survive on corn-based food, these products are not biologically appropriate. We recommend a sugar glider diet made primarily of quality ingredients like animal-protein (chicken, eggs, pork), insect-protein or soy-protein that is supplemented with fruits, vegetables and saps (acacia gum).

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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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