Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2009 09:37
It's easy to take care of the nutritional requirements of the Flying squirrel. They will eat almost anything. In-the-shell pine nuts, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pecans, walnuts, acorns and hickory nuts are all recommended when available. Give the flyer fresh fruit and berries, blossoms and seeds from sugar maple trees, honeysuckle and white clover flowers. Add fresh cultivated mushroom, broccoli, fresh or dried ear of corn and now and then a bit of unsweetened cereal, such as Cheerios. Sweet potatoes have the correct CA/p ratio and are very nutritious. Just keep the diet varied and they will get everything they need. They eat very little so what they are fed is very important.
In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, the flying squirrel diet can consist of a high quality wild bird food that is a mix of seeds, nuts (in-the-shell) and fruit. They prefer larger seeds to smaller ones.
Dennis Q reports that Walmart carries the Morning Song bird and critter food called "Pumpkin Delight." The mix has pumpkin seeds, shelled corn and black sunflower seeds in it. You can add striped sunflower seeds as a base feed. Judy C says WalMart sells two other wild bird foods her flyers like, made by 3-D Pet Products. One is "Krunchy Nut" and the other is "Nut N' Berry." They are very similar - both have sunflower kernels, shelled peanuts, "tree nuts" (may contain pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans or filberts), hulled pumpkin seeds and dried raisins. In addition, the Nut N'Berry has sunflower seeds, safflower seeds and dried cranberries. She keeps one of these in the cage at all times, as a staple food and she usually add some Sunflower seeds to it. If you choose not to use bird seed, a variety of nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, etc., along with fresh fruits and vegetable should be just fine, though the nuts are very high in fat.
Moca offers a varied diet (fresh fruits, veggies, semi-wild roses, wild strawberries, that are in season) PLUS a Marmoset diet from Primate Store. She mixes the ingredients of one can with raw oatmeal, soy nuts, other nuts and seeds and small mealworms or waxworms then cooks a few minutes and places portions in ice cube trays for freezing. Her Nugget gets two very small balls of this at night rolled in sesame seeds and sesame Tahini.
Flying squirrels like to eat meal or wax worms. Most flyers love almost any insect. They are part of the natural diet. They are crazy about moths. Additional protein can be added to the diet with small amounts of boiled chicken or hard boiled egg whites. Some people also offer a treat of soy milk like Silk.
Flying squirrels don't make very loud noises unless they are cracking nuts in the middle of the night. Make sure flyers have wood and nuts in their cage to gnaw on. This helps decrease the size of the incisors.
Too much orange juice or citrus fruit could cause diarrhea in some squirrels; it might not have this effect in others. The other is the added Vitamin D & calcium in some OJs. Too much Vitamin D can cause calcium reabsorption which is the opposite effect of what it normally does. So, too much Vitamin D has somewhat the same effect as not having enough by taking calcium from the body. Just keep in mind too much of any one thing is not good. What is a tiny amount to a human can be a lot to critters the size of a flyer.
The Southern Flying Squirrel is commonly known to experience calcium deficiency because of its fragile bone structure and it's nocturnal nature. Providing the animal with sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D3 and foods enriched with these is critical to their well-being and can prevent this deficiency. Seizures are one of symptoms of calcium deficiency. And with calcium deficiency it may not be a lack of calcium itself, but the Vitamin D3 needed to process it. Phosphorous is another thing needed for the nervous system to function properly. The calcium to phosphorous ratio needed is 2:1. Sweet potatoes (have the correct CA/p ratio and very nutritious)
Good sources of calcium
Kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach (dark green veggies are great!!) and Dannon yogurt, instant oatmeal, soy beans, tofu, sesame seeds, beet greens, turnip greens, parsley, Wakame, figs, rhubarb, sweet potato, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberries
Foods high in phosphorous
Apple, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, orange, cucumber, lettuce, grapes, honey dew, celery, cabbage, carrots, dandelion greens (especially late spring and all summer), apples, banana, fresh corn, mushrooms, lima beans, oatmeal, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and Brazil nuts.
There are some foodstuffs that humans relish which cause illness and death if eaten by pets. Chocolate, macadamia nuts and onions are good examples. It is best to only give flyers foods that grow in their natural range. Thus, do not give anything that is an import from out of the country. Anything that grows naturally in Florida would be in the flyer range: See this Glaucomys range map.
They require a constant supply of fresh water once weaned from formula. Some owners prefer water bottles while others like dishes. If you choose a dish to supply their water needs, make sure it is shallow enough so they cannot drown - See some NFSA member photos under the Water Bottle Link..
Add water soluble multivitamins like Vita-Sol, Sun Drops, or L&M which are made for hamsters and gerbils. Vitamins in the water (usually three drops to every ounce of water) once or twice per week would be plenty.
A powdered nutritional supplement that contains calcium and vitamin D3 should be sprinkled on food two to three times a week. ReptoCal, for reptiles, is one such source. T-Rex makes a calcium/phosphorus powder in the correct 2:1 ratio. It is called 2:1 and also contains vitamins A, D3 and C. You can also give Dannon yogurt which is a good calcium source. Avimin is a water soluble liquid mineral (mostly calcium) that can be used if food powdered with a calcium supplement is refused. Leah adds L&M Animal Farms Liquid Multi-Vitamins in the water supply as a vitamin option (Leah loves this stuff). One drop per ounce of water in the water supply three times a week, or you can offer both plain and vitamin-spiked water each day and give them a choice. A good source of L&M Vitamins is through Hartz Mountain.
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