As exotic pets, sugar gliders are commonly fed a diet of commercially available glider food along with fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, some glider owners like to offer live insects as a natural food source and enrichment activity. Two popular insects fed to pet sugar gliders are crickets and grasshoppers.
Crickets and grasshoppers can make a healthy occasional treat for sugar gliders but should not be a primary part of their diet.
Can sugar gliders eat crickets and grasshoppers?
Nutritional Content of crickets and grasshoppers
Crickets and grasshoppers are high in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the main nutrients these insects provide include:
- Protein: Crickets contain about 12-25% protein while grasshoppers have around 20-35% protein. This protein is highly digestible for gliders.
- Fat: Crickets and grasshoppers contain healthy unsaturated fats. Fat helps provide concentrated energy.
- Calcium: These insects are high in calcium which is important for strong bones and teeth.
- Iron: Crickets and grasshoppers also contain iron, an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen in the blood.
- Other vitamins and minerals: Good amounts of vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and more.
So in moderate amounts, these insects make an excellent source of complete nutrition for omnivores like sugar gliders.
Health Benefits of Feeding Crickets and Grasshoppers
Here are some of the main health benefits sugar gliders can gain from eating feeder insects like crickets and grasshoppers:
- High in complete protein to support muscle growth and maintenance.
- Source of healthy fats for energy and healthy skin/fur.
- Rich in calcium and phosphorus for proper bone development.
- Contains iron, which prevents anemia and boosts immunity.
- Provide many essential vitamins and minerals gliders need.
- Can promote digestive health with natural fiber and enzymes.
- Act as enrichment to engage natural foraging behaviors.
- Help wear down teeth to prevent overgrowth issues.
Risks of Feeding Crickets and Grasshopper
While nutritious and beneficial in small amounts, there are some risks to be aware of when feeding crickets or grasshoppers to sugar gliders:
- High-fat content – Too much can lead to obesity if overfed.
- Indigestion – Exoskeletons may be hard to digest in large amounts.
- Parasites – Wild-caught insects may harbor parasites. Use captive-bred only.
- Pesticides – Feeder insects could contain pesticide residues if not organic.
- Injury – Crickets have been known to bite gliders in rare cases.
- Imbalance – Too many insects and not enough other foods can cause nutritional imbalances.
As long as proper precautions are taken and they are fed in moderation, the risks are minimal. But be aware of these factors when sourcing and serving insects.
Serving Size of Feeding Crickets and Grasshopper
Sugar gliders only need a small amount of protein from insects. Here are some general guidelines for cricket/grasshopper serving sizes:
- Adult glider – 2-3 small crickets or grasshoppers, 2-3 times per week.
- Juvenile glider – 1-2 small crickets or grasshoppers, 2-3 times per week.
One serving should be about the size of the glider’s head or smaller. Overfeeding insects can lead to nutritional imbalances and obesity.
Feeding Frequency of Crickets and Grasshopper
The proper frequency for feeding crickets or grasshoppers to sugar gliders is 2-3 times per week at most. Here are some feeding frequency guidelines:
- Adult gliders – Offer insects 2-3 times per week.
- Juvenile gliders – Offer insects 2-3 times per week.
- Breeding females – Up to 3 times per week.
- Avoid feeding daily or free-feeding insects.
- Make insects only a supplemental part of a varied diet.
Other Alternatives to crickets and grasshoppers
While crickets and grasshoppers are suitable for sugar gliders, here are some other healthy treat options to rotate as well:
- Dubia roaches
- Small cooked bits of lean meat (Chicken, turkey)
- Hard-boiled egg
- Small pieces of low-fat cheese
- Plain cooked shrimp
- Pinky mice (occasionally)
For the primary diet, stick to a balanced commercial glider food and supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables too. Rotate different insect treats for variety.
Are crickets or grasshoppers better for sugar gliders?
Both crickets and grasshoppers are suitable options that provide similar nutritional benefits. Grasshoppers may contain slightly more protein.
Can I give my sugar glider crickets or grasshoppers daily?
No, insects should be fed just 2-3 times per week maximum as a treat. They are too high in fat and protein to serve daily.
How many crickets should I feed my adult sugar glider?
2-3 small crickets 2-3 times per week is an appropriate serving for an adult. Avoid overfeeding.
Can I feed sugar gliders large crickets or just small ones?
Only feed small or medium crickets no bigger than the size of the glider’s head. Large crickets could bite or pose a choking hazard.
What if my glider won’t eat live crickets or grasshoppers?
You can feed dried, canned, or crushed crickets/grasshoppers instead if your glider doesn’t accept live insects.
Do I need to gut load the crickets and grasshoppers before feeding?
Yes, gut-loading feeder insects with nutritious food for 24-48 hours before feeding provides extra nutrients.
Can wild-caught insects make sugar gliders sick?
Yes, only feed captive-bred feeder insects. Wild insects may contain parasites or pesticides.
How can I safely feed crickets to prevent injuries?
Supervise feedings, use smaller crickets, and place the insect in a bowl to prevent biting and minimize chasing risks.
What are the signs my sugar glider is eating too many insects?
Diarrhea, loose stool, weight gain, decreased appetite, lethargy, or obsessively seeking out insects can signal overfeeding.
Are waxworms a better choice than crickets for sugar gliders?
Waxworms are higher in fat so best fed more sparingly. Crickets provide a good balance of protein and fat. Rotate both.
- Crickets and grasshoppers provide protein, fat, calcium and other key nutrients gliders need.
- They offer benefits like enrichments and dental health when fed properly.
- These insects come with low risks like parasites, insect bites, or nutritional imbalance if overfed.
- Limit insect servings to 2-3 times weekly for adults and juveniles.
- Alternate crickets and grasshoppers with other insect treats for variety.
- Always feed insects as a supplement, not a sole diet.
Conclusion about eating crickets and grasshoppers
Both crickets and grasshoppers can make an appropriate, occasional treat for pet sugar gliders as part of a balanced diet.
Eating these bugs in moderation is like giving your sugar glider a little boost of protein, fat, and important nutrients.
Be mindful of potential risks like parasites, difficulty digesting, and nutritional imbalance if overfed. Follow proper portion and frequency guidelines.