#1 » Kermit 12 May 2011, 07:07
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Feeder Insects

There are many different insects that you can feed your pet reptiles. The more common feeder insects include crickets, mealworms, superworms, and silkworms. With each feeder insect, each has its own pros and cons.

Most people either make a homemade gut load or purchase a commercial brand, which aids in the nutritious value of insect. The old saying, "you are what you eat," really comes to play. You want to ensure that your pet reptiles are getting the best diet that you can provide by providing healthy foods. By feeding the feeder insects a gut load, you are ensuring that the feeders are healthy, so that your reptiles will get healthy foods.

On top of feeding feeder insects a proper gut load you need to dust the insects before feeding them to your pet reptiles. On average, you'll want to use a pure calcium supplement at least three times a week. Use calcium plus vitamin D3 at least once a week, and use a multi-vitamin at least twice a week.

Remember that whatever feeder insects that you decide to feed your pet reptiles, make sure that they are size appropriate. A general rule is to make sure that the insect is no larger than the width between the reptile's eyes.

Another rule to keep in mind, is to never feed your pet reptile insects from the yard. You can't guarantee that the little black crickets haven't traveled from your neighbor's neighbor who uses pesticides.

Good Staple Feeder Insects

  • Crickets
    Crickets are easy to come by and come in a variety of sizes. Most pet stores sell them, and they're fairly easy to breed. The downside is that crickets kept in unsanitary conditions can carry parasites that can infect your herp.





  • Discoid Roaches
    Although, we strive to keep roaches out of our houses, don't Raid these roaches. Captive bred roaches are very nutritious for your reptiles. They have a high meat to shell ratio, which means that your pet reptiles do not have to eat as many before becoming full, but because they can reach 2", you'll want to feed nymphs (babies) to your smaller gecko species.




  • Mealworms
    Mealworms are easy to raise and breed, and the perks are that they don't smell nearly as bad as crickets. Plus, mealworms can easily be fed to your reptile via a bowl with high sides to prevent them from crawling out. Tenebrio Molitor, commonly known as Mealworms, are similar to superworms in that they are hard-bodied larvae, very inexpensive and follow the same pupate pattern. The only difference between the mealworm and superworm is in size. Mealworms are small, as are the pupae and resulting beetle. Unlike hornworms, silkworms and butterworms, mealworms possess low nutritional value. Nonetheless, they still make great crunchy treats for most animals. Remember to keep mealworms in the fridge to prevent pupation.




  • Superworms
    Superworms (zophobas morio)are ok to feed as a staple for larger reptiles. Some medium and smaller reptiles can successfully eat superworms. Their shell is thinner than mealworms and your herp won't have to eat as many superworms to satisfy their feeding needs. Meerly 2-4 per feeding versus 10-20 mealworms per feeding for an adult leopard gecko. Zophobus Morio, commonly known as Superworms, are the hard-bodied larvae of the darling beetle. Easy to pupate and very inexpensive to buy and keep, superworms make a great simple study for students. Larvae do not spin but simply shed their hard casing, only to pupate, sit and wait for beetle development. Unlike hornworms, silkworms and butterworms, superworms do not possess the same nutritional value. Nonetheless, they still make great crunchy treats for most animals.




  • Silkworms
    Silkworms are a great staple diet, but they can get rather expensive if you constantly order them online. You can breed silkworms, but breeding silkworms s a little more complicated than breeding other feeder insects.
    Bombyx Mori, commonly known as Silkworms, will not bite, making an ideal worm for feeding most reptiles and other animals. It is soft-bodied, slow moving and can grow to 3" in length. It is also relatively fast growing from hatching to adult can be as little as 25 - 28 days. Bombyx Mori offer great nutritional value. Newborn are small enough for most baby reptiles to eat and young silkworms can even be fed as they grow.
Image



Treats for Reptiles



  • Butterworms
    Butterworms are high in calcium, but they're also high in fat. If you want to give your reptiles a treat, this is a healthy treat to provide. As with any treat, you don't want to give it in excess. Native to Chile, Chilecomadia Moorei, commonly known as Butterworms, grow only in their natural surroundings and are considered a pest elsewhere. There are strict import regulations concerning butterworms. Despite the apparent cons, they are exceptionally high in calcium which makes them a super snack for your animal(s). They do not bite and are soft-bodied. Since they are not bred locally, they command a high price for their size and import cost. Butterworms will last between 2-3 months in the fridge before they spoil.




  • Waxworm
    Waxworms are a feeder insect that you want to provide at a bare minimum. They are very fatty and addictive. After feeding your reptile waxworms in excess in hopes to help your reptile gain a little weight, you'll find that your reptile will be just slightly addicted to eating waxworms. So keep waxworms out of the food bowl as best as you can, but one or two every now and then should be fine. Galleria Mellonella, commonly known as Waxworms, are the larval stage of the Greater Wax Moth. They make excellent fish bait and are widely used as live food for herps. Waxworms are climbers and have a knack for escaping their containers. Once received, always remove the container lids to ensure condensation that accumulated during shipping dissipates. Condensation is hazardous to the life expectancy of the waxworm. Be careful to keep worms refrigerated at all times, removing only those required for feeding. If maintained in cups and refrigerated, they will usually live for 3 weeks.
    DO NOT FEED your waxworms as they do not eat. If food is placed in their containers it will mould and kill your waxworms.




  • Phoenix Worms
    Phoenix worms are another great treat insect. They would be a great staple diet, except for the fact that they are just so expensive. If you can afford an average $6 a cup for about 35 to 50 worms, then I'd invest in a case of cups for your reptiles because they'd be a great staple, otherwise, phoenix worms make a healthy treat for your pet reptile. Rich in calcium, the Phoenix Worm Larvae - Hermetia illucens - makes an ideal food for most animals that don't readily feed. They wiggle intensely exciting the feeding process. They also stay fresh in their cup for weeks at room temperature or even longer if kept at an optimum temperature of 50º - 60º F and they do not need to be fed. Even better, they do not make noise.





An interesting article on feeder insect nutrition:
aark.portal.isis.org/.../Live%20feed%20nutritional%20supplementation.pdf

An awsome link about reptile nutritional needs:
http://globalgeckos.com/articles/file_An%20Assessment%20of%20the%20Nutritional%20Content%20of%20Feeder%20Insects_20101109081530.pdf

Nutritional Values Provided by Each Type of Feeder Insect:


Enlarge this imageReduce this image Click to see fullsize


So I hope thru this caresheet you now have a better understanding of how your choices in feeder insects affect your herp :)
“The Worst Sin Toward Our Fellow Creatures Is Not To Hate Them,
BUT To Be Indifferent To Them; That's The Essence Of Inhumanity”


~George Bernard Shaw~
#2 » HomeworkCrazy 29 Jan 2012, 06:27
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Wow! This was extremely useful! Thanks Kermit! :)
This is great information and easy to understand! :) I would recommend that all Leo to-be owners read this so they can provide their Leos the best nutritional diet possible!
Do you think a supple diet of Dubia Roaches and silkworms would be good? I am thinking that I will feed Dubia Roaches for a month or two and then switch to silkworms for a month or two. Or maybe mealworms, phoenix worms, or superworms instead of silkworms? Is that a smart idea?
#3 » peach75 29 Jan 2012, 08:32
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My vet told me one of my geckos was overweight so I had to stop feeding mealworms. My gecko lost weight now tho once I stopped. This s good info Image
#4 » Kermit 29 Jan 2012, 16:48
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Thank you tanesha, we try to provide the best info possible for new owners. Phoenix worms are very high in calcium, it is suggested when feeding those to add no other calcium suppliment. I would rotate through out the month with a higher fat feeder and a higher protein feeder so that you have a balance so roaches and butterworms would be a good combo. Roach and silks. look at the chart and find 2 bugs that compliment eachother and are easy keepers is what I would do.
“The Worst Sin Toward Our Fellow Creatures Is Not To Hate Them,
BUT To Be Indifferent To Them; That's The Essence Of Inhumanity”


~George Bernard Shaw~



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