The acceptance of a novel diet for sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps)

Elizabeth Vaughan, Wanda McCormick, John Lowe

Research output: Contribution to JournalLetter

Abstract

Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps), are small, omnivorous marsupials which are currently increasing in popularity as pets and within animal collections such as zoos. The current range of captive diets is limited and is often unsuitable with regards to nutritional content which may lead to a wide range of nutritional disorders including nutritional osteodystrophy and malnutrition. This study aimed to look at the acceptability of a novel feed item produced by Dodson and Horrell Ltd® to a group of eleven sugar gliders. A comparison was made between the original diet, consisting of a Leadbetters / marmoset gum morning feed and a fruit / insect afternoon feed, and the trial diet, where a novel gel-based feed designed to deliver similar nutrient profiles was used in the morning presentations. No significant difference was found with regards to intake of either feed mass or nutrients (P>0.05) following the diet change. However, the frequency of approaches to feed and latency of approach were both significantly different following the change (P<0.05), decreasing when transitioned to the trial diet. Using a faecal scoring system, a significant change was seen on the trial diet with faecal pellets being drier (P<0.05). Anecdotal feedback from the animal technicians caring for the sugar gliders supported the use of the novel feed as being easier to prepare and store, as well as maintaining cleanliness in the enclosure. This study supported the novel feed being nutritionally well balanced and acceptable to sugar gliders as well as having a positive influence on faecal scores. This will act to widen the currently limited range of captive diets available to sugar gliders and may reduce risk of nutritional disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4
Number of pages1
JournalBIAZA Research Newsletter
Volume16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

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