Sugar gliders are cute tiny possums with a sweet tooth and a built-in parachute! If you are a sugar glider owner, you might want to know: can sugar gliders eat hornworms? We will answer that question below.
Hornworms are a common feeder insect for many pets, and they are safe for you to feed your sugar glider too. Hornworms have high moisture content and are rich in proteins and calcium.
Hornworms are a type of larvae that pupate to become hawk moths. There are more than 1,000 species of hornworms, but the most common ones are tomato and tobacco hornworms.
What Do Sugar Gliders Eat?
Sugar gliders are omnivores and can eat all kinds of food in the wild, including fruits, vegetables, and insects such as moths, beetles, crickets, worms, grasshoppers, and spiders.
Their main food includes sweet fruits, nectar from flowers, plant materials, and other naturally sweet substances they can get in the forest. (that’s why they are called sugar gliders – they love sugar!)
When deciding what to feed your pet sugar glider, it would be best if you try replicating a diet similar to its diet in the wild.
Include sweet fruits, vegetables, and nuts as the major portion. Add a small portion of meat, egg, and worms.
The diet of sugar gliders must be low in oxalate, calcium, and phosphorus salts. These can cause urinary tract disorders and blockage in the UT due to the oxalate and calcium crystals.
Can Sugar Gliders Eat Hornworms?
Yes, sugar gliders can eat hornworms; you can give hornworms as an occasional treat to your glider. Hornworms are available in pet stores, and you can easily breed them in your house as well.
Hornworms have a soft exoskeleton, so they lack hard chitin plates. They are perfect for your pet as you won’t have to worry about chitin plates getting stuck in their throat.
Hornworm Nutritional Value Breakdown
Hornworms are an excellent source of moisture because of their nearly 85% water content. Additionally, they contain low amounts of fat (only 3% ) and high amounts of protein (up to 9%), making them a nutritious food source. Hornworms are also a rich source of calcium (47mg/100g of body weight).
Can Sugar Gliders Eat Hornworms I Find Outside?
Not all types of worms are safe to feed your pet glider. You should not feed wild hornworms, as the hornworms could contain toxins within them.
Wild hornworms consume leaves from plants of the nightshade family (tobacco, tomato, eggplants, etc.). These worms consume and store toxins when they chew on tobacco and tomato leaves.
Moreover, wild worms might have consumed harmful chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides, which are dangerous for your sugar glider’s health.
Only feed hornworms bought from reputable pet stores or branded online ones.
Feeding Hornworms to Sugar Gliders
You need to feed your sugar glider about 15-20% of its weight on a daily basis. Typical sugar gliders weigh between three to five ounces, which comes to about 1 oz.
Hornworms weigh around 0.15oz, so that you can give your pet one to two hornworms a day. If you have a baby glider, you can also cut hornworms in half to feed them.
Hornworms are a nutritious food, but you cannot use them as a primary feeder to your sugar glider. Sugar gliders need a balanced diet with a major portion consisting of fruits and vegetables. Hornworms are a good option for an occasional treat.
To feed hornworms to your glider, put the worm inside your glider’s cage and let it hunt down the worm. But do not just drop the worm and leave; make sure that your glider has eaten it.
Mature hornworms transform into hawk moths, and you certainly won’t want moths popping out in your pet’s cage!
Moreover, buy young hornworms in small quantities. These worms grow quickly and are ready to pupate within 3-4 weeks of hatching, so you need to feed them to your pet before that happens.
If you need a bit of time, one method is to put the hornworms in the fridge at a temperature of about 45-55F. At this temperature, their metabolism slows down, and they grow much slower. You can extend their shelf life by about two weeks in this way.
Best Time to Feed Hornworms to Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, which means that they are active and like to hunt at night. Veterinary experts advise feeding sugar gliders after sunset.
Sugar gliders become metabolically active after sunset. During day time, they metabolize food at a much slower rate. It would be best if you gave all meals to your glider during the evening or night.
Frequently Asked Questions
What foods are toxic to sugar gliders?
Foods rich in oxalates, such as spinach, collard greens, chard, and kale, are harmful to sugar gliders because they can lead to urinary tract disorders.
Other toxic foods for a sugar glider include chocolate, carrots, beets, figs, pears, berries, and milk and milk products. Food or insect treated with chemicals such as insecticide could also be toxic for your sugar glider.
What insects are good for sugar gliders?
It would be best if you tried to give your sugars glider a diet consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables, with the occasional insect thrown in as a treat.
Hornworms are a good option due to their soft exoskeleton. Other insects that you can feed your pet include crickets, mealworms, and butter worms.
Can sugar gliders eat earthworms?
Sugar gliders can eat a variety of insects, including earthworms, crickets, mealworms, and hornworms.
Earthworms are a powerhouse of proteins (nearly 60-70%), contain a high amount of fat (6-111%) and carbs (5-20%), and the rest is minerals and vitamins. They do not have a hard exoskeleton either.
Can sugar gliders eat live insects?
Yes, they can eat live insects. But if your pet has never been in the wild, it might be unsure about what to do when exposed to live insects for the first time.
You can start feeding them frozen insects; once they are accustomed to the new type of treatment, you can provide them with live insects. They will enjoy hunting them.
Hornworms are soft caterpillars that lack an exoskeleton and contain 85% moisture in their body. They are a good source of moisture for your sugar glider.
Hornworms are easily available in pet stores, while some pet owners also like to breed them in their own houses. However, never feed a hornworm from the wild to your pet.
Thank you for reading!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Unknown Hornworm from Mexico: Isognathus rimosus inclitus
Subject: What caterpillar and moth or butterfly will this be
Geographic location of the bug: Chapala, mexico
Time: 03:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: My friend sent me a pic of this caterpillar from Chapala Mexico. After looking online I found hornworm caterpillars. Which one is this and what moth or butterfly does it turn into. Also what is the purpose of the horn?
How you want your letter signed: Sarah
We are very confident that this is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, and that it will eventually transform into a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth, but alas, we have not been successful identifying its species despite the excellent database on Sphingidae of the Americas. We will write to Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a species identification.
Bill Oehlke Responds.
Hi Daniel, I think I have seen that one before, but a quick check did not let me come up with an id. Later this afternoon I will send it to Jean Haxaire to see if he knows what it is.
Jean Haxaire has indicated Isognathus rimosus inclitus.
I wish permission to post it to website. Please check with photographer and forward his or her name.
Ed. Note: The subspecies Isognathus rimosus inclitus is pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas, but there is no larval image. We are writing back to Sarah with the identification and a request from Bill Oehlke to include the image on his comprehensive site.
Thanks so much. I’m checking with my friend and am getting an exact location if possible. I’m sure she’ll be alright with sharing, but will get back to you tomorrow.
Pilar Martinez is the photographer and the pic was taken in Chapala, Jalisco , Mexico
Pilar has said ok to sharing the image. I’m copying her on this email.
Thank you so much for the identification and glad to contribute to the database.
Please send us a link when it’s up.
Thanks Sarah and Pilar,
Pilar’s image is already live on What’s That Bug? and Bill Oehlke will post it to the species page for Isognathus rimosus inclitus on his site, Sphingidae of the Americas, where he has adult moths of pictured, but no caterpillars.
Bill Oehlke’s website:
Please say thanks to Sarah and Pilar for me and let them know Isognathus rimosus inclitus image has been posted to
Letter 2 – Psilogramma increta Hornworm from Hong Kong
Subject: Caterpillar found in Hong Kong
Location: Shatin, Hong Kong
October 20, 2013 7:02 pm
I saw this caterpillar crossing a path on my way to the station in Shatin, Hong Kong, It was in a wooded area, mid-October, about 8am. The caterpillar was about 3 inches long and moving quite fast. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks for your help!
The best we can do at this time is to provide you with a family identification. This is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae. Our quick search did not produce any matching species images, and this is a very large family. Perhaps one of our readers can provide something more specific.
Psilogramma increta identification courtesy of Bostjan
See Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic for additional information. We love the piebald look of some individuals.
Letter 3 – Unknown Hornworm is unusual coloration for Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
help with ID please!
First of all may I just say that your site is lovely. The pictures and information are top notch, and I really appreciate your trying to educate people about the fact that they are not the sole nor the dominant species on this planet. Could you please tell me what type of caterpillar this is? I saw one climbing my deck rail last evening, and one crossing a gravel path this morning. What does this species eat, and what will it turn into? Also when I picked it up it released some green liquid onto my finger, what was that? Thank you!! 🙂
This caterpillar has us stumped. It is a Hornworm, the larva of a Sphinx Moth in the family Spingidae, but we cannot locate the species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent comprehensive site when we searched species found in North Carolina. We will try to contact Bill to see if he can identify the species. The caterpillar probably puked on you. Here is Bill Oehlke’s response: “Hi Daniel, Agrius cingulata comes in several different forms. The spiracular ovals are usually distinctive, however, with the spiracles outlined in the center of a larger, dark, eyeshaped marking, surrounded by white to offwhite. There is also a faint lateral line and darklines on the head. Please ask photographer to contact me so I can request permission to use image. I would also like to know the county. I have recently received several images of adult moths of this species from N.C. Bill Oehlke”
Letter 4 – Hornworm from Nigeria: Basiothia medea
Subject: What’s that bug?
Location: Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa
November 21, 2016 9:58 pm
My name is Abiodun. I live in Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa. I was at work one day and saw this caterpillar. After searching online and seeing similar pictures, I think it looks like a Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar. It’s actually the start of autumn here. Could you please confirm this. Thank you.
Signature: Abiodun Afolabi
While your individual is a look-alike of the Caterpillar of a Tersa Sphinx, it is a different species in the same family Sphingidae. We will attempt a species identification for you. Many caterpillars have evolved with large fake eyespots as a camouflage defense mechanism.
Identification: A special thanks to Bostjan Dvorak for identifying this Hornworm as Basiothia medea. There is an image of the Hornworm on INPN.
Letter 5 – Hornworm from South Africa is Coelonia fulvinotata
Subject: huge caterpillars
Location: little brak river south Africa
January 8, 2015 9:05 am
I found some peculiar caterpillars in my garden in littlrebrak river, South Africa. There was a pair and they seemed to be fighting possibly? They were huge and had tails much like a sausage dogs, along with large heads and small horns.
I moved them to a bush in an open field near by.
I would love to know what they were!!
Signature: Julia Neethling
This is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, but we are not certain of the species. We will attempt some research and hopefully we will be able to provide you with a species name soon. We did not locate any matching images on iSpot, however, we began to have trouble after page 4.
Update: Coelonia fulvinotata
Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we have been informed that this is a Coelonia fulvinotata Hornworm, a species we already have represented in our archive. More information is available on African Moths.