When you take on the responsibility of owning a reptile, you also take on the responsibility of taking care of their food. Numerous reptile pets eat a variety of different insects from crickets to mealworms to silkworms. It is necessary to keep a number of these insects in your home, unless you feel like running to the pet store every time you need to feed your pet. Not only is this expensive, it’s just ridiculous. So on top of taking care of your reptile, you have to learn how to take care of these insects. The most important thing you need to know though is how to gut load your feeder bugs.
What is Gut Loading and Why do I need to do it?
Simply put, Gut Loading is feeding your feeder insects nutritious items filled with all the nutrients your reptile needs. When the insect is eaten, these nutrients will be passed on to your reptile. This must be done in order to keep your reptile healthy. If they do not receive the proper nutrients, severe health problems can occur and none of us want that to happen. You may be asking aren’t the insects nutritious enough on their own? Unfortunately, they are not. Many feeder insects do not provide a sufficient amount of calcium to meet your lizard’s requirements. So as much as we don’t like taking care of bugs, it is a necessity if we want to keep our reptiles. So, how exactly do you gut load insects?
How to Gut Load Insects
It’s very simple to gut load your insects, all you need to do is give them the right kind of foods. There are a number of items that you can use, including vegetables, fruits, and even prepacked gut load diets. Below is a more detailed list:
- Dark, Leafy Greens (Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Kale, etc.)
- Apples (make sure to remove the seeds) and Oranges
- Carrots, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Squash
- High Quality Dry Cat or Dog Food
- Wheat Germ, Alfalfa, Wheat Bran
If you are trying to gut load them on your own, make sure to offer a variety of items to ensure they are getting enough nutrients. It is also a great idea to sprinkle the food you offer with your reptile vitamin and calcium. Exactly how you gut load each insect is only slightly different. For example, you gut load mealworms by using your gut load as their bedding. For crickets and roaches though, you want to have the food available in a dish that you keep full at all times.
Prepackaged Gut Load Diets
There are a variety of different diets you can purchase from companies that can be great for if you are in a pinch. Generally speaking, these diets shouldn’t be the only things that you offer but they work great for when you don’t have time to create your own diet. Personally speaking, my favorite commercial diet to buy is the Pro Gutload from Professional Reptiles. It is suitable for just about any feeder you can imagine. There are also offerings from Fluker’s, such as Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet. Purina even offers a cricket chow that can be used for Dubia Roaches as well. Always look at the ingredients for the diets and read reviews before purchasing.