Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

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Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Kermit on Thu May 12, 2011 5:08 pm

Feeder Insects

When it comes to feeding an Insectivorous reptile there are many different suitable options available on the open market. Some bugs you may need to order on line but most you can find locally either in a herp specialty shop or local bait stores (yes the places fishermen shop for their bait). The most common feeders you can find on the open market are superworms (morioworms), mealworms, wax worms, crickets, butterworms, phoenix worms and silk worms. Occasionally you're lucky enough to be able to find Dubia roaches on line or locally on craig's list but they're not easy to come by in most states in my experience, and are banned in some places such as Canada. Nutritional values are different for each insect and provide most of the nutritional factors your herp needs such as protein, fats, calcium, and fiber. Feeding a good rotation of insects will help most herpers avoid food boredome in their herps and also maintain proper nutritional balance. Each highlighted insect name, when clicked will link you to a hub page about breeding/proper maintenance for that particular feeder insect.

The old addage "you are what you eat" also holds true for our herps. Proper GUTLOADING is essential for any feeding program. Gutloading is basically just filling your feeder insects with a good diet to ensure that you are getting maximum nutrition for your herp. There are premade marketed gutloads vailable for this or you can simply use veggie scraps from your own household meals such as carrots, potato, apples (minus the seeds and core, they can be toxic), leafy greens (avoid spinach as it contains a chemical that binds to calcium making it impossible for your herp to absorb), and some fruits such as oranges. Make sure to take out and properly gutload any feeder insect at least 24/48 hours prior to feeding to make sure you are getting the maximum nutritional value from each feeder.

In addition to a proper gutload regimen you also need to properly suppliment your herps. A good calcium suppliment as well as a multi vitimin is required to make up any nutritional values you could potentially be missing in your herps diet. Depending on the age and condition of your herp dusting is usually recommended every or every other feeding if you use an all in 1 suppliment.

Another key factor when properly feeding your herp is the SIZE of the feeders you offer. In most cases, your bugs should be NO BIGGER AROUND than the space between your herp's eyes. Feeding a properly sized insect will ensure that your leo is getting maximum nutrition with minimum undigestable product like shell. Also keep in mind that field collected insects, while easier on the budget, may prove harmful or fatal for your herp. You may not use pesticides, but other places your field collected herp might have encountered before reaching your yard might. You can certainly use field collected insects to start a feeding colony as any toxins that would be in the insect will usually be worked out in a few days with proper gutloading and habitat for your feeders, and any toxins certainly will not be passed along to their offspring.

Good Staple Feeder Insects (in no particular order)

  • Crickets
    Crickets are readily available at most petstores and come in a variety of sizes. Keep in mind that they are fairly easy to breed and maintain a colony but they are noisy, they smell, and they can be highly aggressive, like the Jamacian Field Cricket http://www.leopardgeckoforum.com/t642-another-reason-to-never-feed-your-leo-crickets . Crickets could also be a source of parasite infestation for your herp if they are not properly maintained either by yourself or the shop you procured them from, and they can stress yout your herp if left to free roam in their vivarium. Any uneaten crickets should be removed with in a half hour of offering them to your herp or kept in a deep glass excape proof dish. If your herp has difficulty catching fast moving crickets you can carefully remove the rear jumper legs (yes they will and do survive if you remove them carefully and don't rip the cricket apart doing it), or you can refrigerate your crickets for a half hour prior to feeding to slow them down. If your herp has consistant difficulties catching crickets they could be discouraged from them and refuse to eat them.



  • Discoid Roaches
    Usually the thought of roaches in your house is a bad thing, unless your a herp keeper. Captive bred roaches are a good nutritional option for your herps as they have a high meat to shell ratio which means less undigestable matter being fed to your herps. Keep in mind that adult lengths of 2 inches are not unreasonable for most feeder roaches so feeding the nymphs (babies) to smaller herps is highly suggested.



  • Mealworms
    Mealworms, Tenebrio Molitor, are easy to raise and breed, and some of the bonus points are that they don't smell, and they don't make noise like crickets do, plus it is less likely that your feeders will pass a parasite infection to your herp. Mealworms are easy to feed either by a bowl or tong feeding (by hand) and you can feed the pupa (aliens) or adult mealies to your herp with great success as a staple feeder. They do have a lower nutritional value so using a rotation of insects will help make up any short comings in nutrition when using mealies as a staple. Remember to keep mealies refrigerated to prevent pupating and take them out 48 hours prior to feeding so they can wake up and be gutloaded.



  • Superworms
    Superworms, Zophobus Morio, commonly known as Superworms, are the hard-bodied larvae of the darkling beetle, and also good feeders when properly sized for your herp. They have a better nutritional breakdown than mealworms, you don't need to feed nearly as many (2-4 per feeding versus 10-20 mealworms per feeding for an adult leopard gecko), they have thinner shells so are easily digested, and they are easy to keep and breed. Supers will last upwards of a month or more when properly kept and they do not require refrigeration in order to prevent pupating. Supers do not pupate until they are seperated into their own "cell" and have stopped feeding. For larger supers I like to recommend giving their head a little pinch so that they don't bite your herp when they are eating them. Biting feeders is not isolated to just superworms tho... most feeders can bite your herp.



  • Silkworms
    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. Constantly buying on line can become expensive after a while so try to start your own colony. It could be a fun experience as well as a great challenge.


  • Phoenix Worms
    Phoenix worms are another great feeder insect. They would be a great staple diet, except for the fact that they are just so expensive, averaging $6 a cup for about 35-50 worms, and extremely high in calcium (no suppliment is needed if you use phoenix worms as your staple feeder). 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.

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 great for your Herps. 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, Galleria Mellonella, 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. 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 slightly addicted to eating them and could possibly refuse other feeders in lieu of them. 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.


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:





So I hope thru this caresheet you now have a better understanding of how your choices in feeder insects affect your herp Smile


Last edited by Kermit on Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:14 am; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by tduke16 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:22 am

SO..im going to feed my gecko crickets and mealworms.. What should i dust the crickets with? (Brands) And how to i get stuff to gut load them?

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Jordan on Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:55 pm

Hey Kel, i've had to move this thread into here and out of the public as there has been an official complaint against it.

Here's what i got:
"I would like to report stolen content. The forum post linked below is direct stolen content from my hub on hubpages.com that was originally published in 2008. Please remove the stolen content, or I will file a Google DMCA report.

http://www.leopardgeckoforum.com/t303-nutritional-values-and-feeder-insects#3011

http://whitney05.hubpages.com/hub/Breeding-Insects-for-Reptiles

Thank you"

I mean... is it? If you wish to contest against it then, obviously you can visit that website and see if there is someone to contact.
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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Kermit on Sun Sep 25, 2011 1:03 am

I have no idea and hub pages aren't copywrighted to my knowledge. Just leave it here for now and ill rewrite it in my own words. No idea what that complaint to google is... that's a first.

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Marnie on Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:07 pm

ANNOYED that i spend money on waxworms every time i go to the reptile shop and wonder why they die. It wastes money and my leos dont get to eat all of them. NOBODY TOLD ME YOU HAD TO REFRIGERATE THEM. I will do this from now on and i will be happy! I can not believe i did not know this. And does anyone know the exact foods that you can feed locusts that wont harm the leos.

Also, if i spray water into the containers with the locusts in does that help, because they arent necessarily drinking the water but it is somewhat moist in the atmosphere of the container. Would i be better off buying this 'water gel' stuff?

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Kermit on Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:50 am

If locusts are anything like crickets, and I'm pretty sure they are, they exhalemositure, and moist environments will kill most feeder insects. It is best to keep feeders in a dry humid enclosure and use feeder gel or flukers complete orange cubes. Keep a paper towel roll in the enclosure with feeders to absorb excess mositure and change it a couple times a week to keep feeders healthy and happy. It bothers me as well that places that sell these bugs never tell you how to properly care for them, but then again they're in the business to make money and if your food is dieing you'll be back sooner for more. Unfortunately you'll find that most petshop employees are clueless on the majority of stuff they sell whether its feeders, animals or supplies. Educate yourself first, never depend on the shops for accurate info. Sad isn't it >8(

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Marnie on Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:59 am

Hmmm. I dont like touching the locusts, i dont mind if one gets out but i dont tend to touch them. I open the lid and hold it into the tank and let them jump out into the tank. I cant be doing with them jumping all over the place and getting away so i just poke the salad in through the corner while the locusts are occupied at the other end of the tub. So i dont really put kitchen roll and stuff in i just shove food in as they came from the shop. I suppose i ought to get a big box of some kind to keep them in so they're healthier. I have a spare exo-terra tank, a small one. Would that do to keep them in? Do they need lights or heat to survive or is it just a case of them having things to eat to survive?

I need to know more about locusts!! And i want to know exactly what you can feed them that wont harm my leopard geckos because i know Bearded Dragons supposedly cant eat certain leaves because they are poisonous (or so my boyfriend tells me)

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Jaime95 on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:49 am

"Some bugs you may need to order on line but most you can find locally either in a herp specialty shop or local bait stores"?

Is it safe to feed your herp fish bait? I thought it might be a good idea, but when i researched it a few people said it would be harmful. Have you (or anyone else) ever tried this and had any problems?

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Kermit on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:43 pm

I have used wax worms and mealies from a local bait store with no problems at all. Often times the little local guy buys from the same mass producer pet shops do or they cultivate their own worms which in my opinion usually produces just as good or better than mass producers.


Last edited by Kermit on Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:41 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by Dangle on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:34 pm

Great read! If I was a Leopard Gecko body builder I would have a diet of Dubia roaches or Silk worms. I feed my Leo crickets now but with twice the protein I am gonna change his/her diet. The only problem is nobody local sells them. With shipping such a small amount it might get too costly and breeding them isn't really worth it for one leo. I also have a juvenile that is about a month or two old so I would need small roaches. Also how many would I need to feed my Leo compared to crickets. I feed five daily at the moment with a waxworm treat once a week.
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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by peach75 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:41 pm

Kermit wrote:Feeder Insects

When it comes to feeding an Insectivorous reptile there are many different suitable options available on the open market. Some bugs you may need to order on line but most you can find locally either in a herp specialty shop or local bait stores (yes the places fishermen shop for their bait). The most common feeders you can find on the open market are superworms (morioworms), mealworms, wax worms, crickets, butterworms, phoenix worms and silk worms. Occasionally you're lucky enough to be able to find Dubia roaches on line or locally on craig's list but they're not easy to come by in most states in my experience, and are banned in some places such as Canada. Nutritional values are different for each insect and provide most of the nutritional factors your herp needs such as protein, fats, calcium, and fiber. Feeding a good rotation of insects will help most herpers avoid food boredome in their herps and also maintain proper nutritional balance. Each highlighted insect name, when clicked will link you to a hub page about breeding/proper maintenance for that particular feeder insect.

The old addage "you are what you eat" also holds true for our herps. Proper GUTLOADING is essential for any feeding program. Gutloading is basically just filling your feeder insects with a good diet to ensure that you are getting maximum nutrition for your herp. There are premade marketed gutloads vailable for this or you can simply use veggie scraps from your own household meals such as carrots, potato, apples (minus the seeds and core, they can be toxic), leafy greens (avoid spinach as it contains a chemical that binds to calcium making it impossible for your herp to absorb), and some fruits such as oranges. Make sure to take out and properly gutload any feeder insect at least 24/48 hours prior to feeding to make sure you are getting the maximum nutritional value from each feeder.

In addition to a proper gutload regimen you also need to properly suppliment your herps. A good calcium suppliment as well as a multi vitimin is required to make up any nutritional values you could potentially be missing in your herps diet. Depending on the age and condition of your herp dusting is usually recommended every or every other feeding if you use an all in 1 suppliment.

Another key factor when properly feeding your herp is the SIZE of the feeders you offer. In most cases, your bugs should be NO BIGGER AROUND than the space between your herp's eyes. Feeding a properly sized insect will ensure that your leo is getting maximum nutrition with minimum undigestable product like shell. Also keep in mind that field collected insects, while easier on the budget, may prove harmful or fatal for your herp. You may not use pesticides, but other places your field collected herp might have encountered before reaching your yard might. You can certainly use field collected insects to start a feeding colony as any toxins that would be in the insect will usually be worked out in a few days with proper gutloading and habitat for your feeders, and any toxins certainly will not be passed along to their offspring.

Good Staple Feeder Insects (in no particular order)

  • Crickets
    Crickets are readily available at most petstores and come in a variety of sizes. Keep in mind that they are fairly easy to breed and maintain a colony but they are noisy, they smell, and they can be highly aggressive, like the Jamacian Field Cricket http://www.leopardgeckoforum.com/t642-another-reason-to-never-feed-your-leo-crickets . Crickets could also be a source of parasite infestation for your herp if they are not properly maintained either by yourself or the shop you procured them from, and they can stress yout your herp if left to free roam in their vivarium. Any uneaten crickets should be removed with in a half hour of offering them to your herp or kept in a deep glass excape proof dish. If your herp has difficulty catching fast moving crickets you can carefully remove the rear jumper legs (yes they will and do survive if you remove them carefully and don't rip the cricket apart doing it), or you can refrigerate your crickets for a half hour prior to feeding to slow them down. If your herp has consistant difficulties catching crickets they could be discouraged from them and refuse to eat them.



  • Discoid Roaches
    Usually the thought of roaches in your house is a bad thing, unless your a herp keeper. Captive bred roaches are a good nutritional option for your herps as they have a high meat to shell ratio which means less undigestable matter being fed to your herps. Keep in mind that adult lengths of 2 inches are not unreasonable for most feeder roaches so feeding the nymphs (babies) to smaller herps is highly suggested.



  • Mealworms
    Mealworms, Tenebrio Molitor, are easy to raise and breed, and some of the bonus points are that they don't smell, and they don't make noise like crickets do, plus it is less likely that your feeders will pass a parasite infection to your herp. Mealworms are easy to feed either by a bowl or tong feeding (by hand) and you can feed the pupa (aliens) or adult mealies to your herp with great success as a staple feeder. They do have a lower nutritional value so using a rotation of insects will help make up any short comings in nutrition when using mealies as a staple. Remember to keep mealies refrigerated to prevent pupating and take them out 48 hours prior to feeding so they can wake up and be gutloaded.



  • Superworms
    Superworms, Zophobus Morio, commonly known as Superworms, are the hard-bodied larvae of the darkling beetle, and also good feeders when properly sized for your herp. They have a better nutritional breakdown than mealworms, you don't need to feed nearly as many (2-4 per feeding versus 10-20 mealworms per feeding for an adult leopard gecko), they have thinner shells so are easily digested, and they are easy to keep and breed. Supers will last upwards of a month or more when properly kept and they do not require refrigeration in order to prevent pupating. Supers do not pupate until they are seperated into their own "cell" and have stopped feeding. For larger supers I like to recommend giving their head a little pinch so that they don't bite your herp when they are eating them. Biting feeders is not isolated to just superworms tho... most feeders can bite your herp.



  • Silkworms
    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. Constantly buying on line can become expensive after a while so try to start your own colony. It could be a fun experience as well as a great challenge.


  • Phoenix Worms
    Phoenix worms are another great feeder insect. They would be a great staple diet, except for the fact that they are just so expensive, averaging $6 a cup for about 35-50 worms, and extremely high in calcium (no suppliment is needed if you use phoenix worms as your staple feeder). 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.

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 great for your Herps. 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, Galleria Mellonella, 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. 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 slightly addicted to eating them and could possibly refuse other feeders in lieu of them. 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.


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:





So I hope thru this caresheet you now have a better understanding of how your choices in feeder insects affect your herp Smile

Hey Kermit Very Happy you posted the wrong charts. I know for a fact butter worms are high in fat. This is the real contant,lol http://www.mulberryfarms.com/Butterworms-c42/
know go smack the person who post these in the back of the head Very Happy
they must of confused the fat contant with the silkworms. That is the contant of the silkworms.

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Re: Nutritional Values and Feeder Insects

Post by LVMikal on Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:04 am

IMO, breeding is the only way to go whether you have one or several regardless of what food choice you want. I eliminated my supers a while back because the lizards I had then weren't interested in that large of a worm, but may be bringing them back with the addition of the larger geckos.

Just and FYI on the waxworms, I read that refridgeration needs to stay between 50-60 degrees, closer to 60 the better, but disregarded it because I hadn't had a problem with them. Put a whole homemade colony in the frigde, and upon inspection the next day, lost thousands.

Meantime, mealies are supereasy, and almost self-maintaining, waxworms require a little bit of a setup, and then self maintain, but burn through food quickly that needs to be replenished to get them to reach ideal size. With waxworms there's also the problem with escape artists, but the kids enjoy picking them out of the carpet so its ok. Roaches food and water seem to self maintain pretty easy. Supers get annoying separating into individual containers, but again, small price to pay compared to the heavy store cost.

Then there is ordering online. Even for one, I believe it would benefit to find a cheap outlet and order monthly, rather than weekly or every-othe-daily at the rediculous cost of 0.12 per bug. Just thoughts.

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