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Dusting & Gut Loading Feeder Insects Prior To Feeding


| Introduction | Gut Loading | Dusting | Mixtures | Gut Loading Mealworms | Dusting Mealworms | Gut Loading Crickets | Related Topics |
| Email This Page | Mealworms For Sale | Crickets For Sale | Lizards For Sale |
| Most Important Points To Remember When Feeding Insectivorous Lizards |
| Practical Aspects Of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) |


It is said that animals are what they eat. In the case of insectivorous reptiles and amphibians it is simply not enough only to feed the correct prey, but the correct preparation also plays a role in the health of these animals. The most commonly seen metabolic abnormality in herptiles, namely Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is because of inadequate preparation of feeder insects prior to feeding. To prevent this disease, and other metabolic disorders, the nutritional value of commonly fed insects should be increased. The two main methods to increase the value of feeder insects are by gut loading and dusting.

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Gut Loading:

Gut loading is the process where feeder insects are fed vitamin and mineral rich foods prior to feeding to other animals. It can either be done by adding gut loading foods to their current rations or by only supplying gut loaded foods. Gut loading should take place 24 to 48 hours prior to being used as food.

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Dusting is simply the process of coating the outer part of feeder insects with powdered mineral and/or vitamin mixtures. A few feeder insects can be mixed up in a plastic bag or bottle with a pinch or two of the desired mixture. Excess powder is gently shaken off and the insects are immediately fed after coating before they have the chance to clean themselves.

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The most important mineral to lizards is calcium (Ca). Most insect maintenance food such as grains and cereals are deficient in Ca and should be supplemented. When it comes to the correct metabolism of calcium, the calcium : phosphorus ratio (Ca : P) is also important. The ratio should be in the region of 1.2-2 : 1. Calcium is best given in combination with vitamin D3, especially to basking lizards where ultraviolet (UV) lamps or natural sunlight is indicated, but not supplied, or to nocturnal lizards where UV requirements are not indicated. In the absence of UV light, vitamin D3 aids in the uptake of calcium and phosphorus. When UV eradiation is present vitamin D3 can be produced from dietary vitamin D precursors.
    Where vitamin D is given in its inactive form (colecalciferol), it will be converted to the active form 1,25-dehydrocolecalciferol) via the kidneys. Because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin it can accumulate in the body where it may cause vitamin D toxicity (hypervitaminosis).

It is important to note that most multivitamin combinations do not have enough calcium for Ca supplementation and should be used in conjunction with a suitable Ca source

Calsup® (8% calcium) or calcium hydroxide, available from veterinarians or pharmacies, can be used as a general calcium dusting powder for most herptiles. They may also be used in combination with other vitamins and minerals to increase calcium levels of gut loading foods.  General mineral mixtures are not adequate for calcium supplementation meaning that calcium supplementation should be done separately. Commercial and other dusting powders are available from a specialist pet shops or reptile friendly vets.

The frequency of supplying minerals depends on the type of animal. Most minerals are supplemented 2 to 3 times a week (calcium usually 2 times a week and 3 times a week to gravid and growing herptiles). Supplement requirements for each species is mentioned on their specific care sheet.

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Gut Loading Mealworms:

Mealworms can be gut loaded by adding high levels of vitamins and minerals to their substrate. It might be necessary to move the desired amount of worms to a smaller container.

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Dusting Mealworms:

Larvae or beetles can be dusted. Where calcium is supplied ad lib, for example to Leopard geckos, larvae can simply be put out in these containers. gently shaken up with the mineral-vitamin powder placed in a container with a lid or in a plastic bag. Make sure to shake off the excess powder.

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Gut Loading Crickets:

Many crickets that are commercially available are indicated as gut loaded. It is not always clear weather these crickets are gut loaded prior to packaging (meaning they are theoretically only of value up to two days after purchase) or are fed gut loaded foods in the containers they are sold in.

Various greens and vegetables such as lucerne/alfalfa (Medicago sativa), carrots, carrot greens and parsley  can be fed as gut loading foods. Fish flakes can also be used but dusting with appropriate calcium will still be necessary. Calcium, Ca-combinations or other mineral and vitamin combinations for gut loading can be bough from specialist pet shops or reptile friendly vets. Different mixtures of calcium with different concentrations are available. Calsup® (containing about 8% calcium) can be used in gut load mixtures or as dusting powder. Never feed crickets total gut loading mixtures with more than 8% calcium as it will cause increased mortalities.

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"If you think I should add more information to this section or think that something is incorrect, contact me and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas or methods you might use that is different than ours."

Last updated 12 June 2005 by Renier Delport

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This dusting & gut loading section is based on our book,
Keeping & Breeding Crickets As Feeder Insects.

Other than this, this book also contains information on the following:Keeping & Breeding Crickets As Feeder Insects by Renier Delport

  • Breeding Of Crickets Including Small Scale Breeding, Commercial Breeding Breeding & All-in-all-out Systems
  • Other Types Of Breedable Crickets
  • Cricket Temperature Regulation & Thermokinetic Physics
  • Potential Problems During the Breeding Process
  • Cricket Breeding Stats & Facts
  • Basic Cricket Marketing & Economics
  • Handling Crickets

It also contains two easy preparable dry cricket gut loading recipes for crickets and an economic bulk food recipe.

Click here for more information!

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Related Topics:

Price List
Other Food
Most Important Points To Remember When Feeding Insectivorous Lizards
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) In Reptiles & Amphibians
Lizard Quarantine Practical Aspects Of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Keeping & Breeding Crickets
Keeping & Breeding Mealworms
Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Leopard Gecko Care Sheet
Mealworms For Sale
Crickets For Sale

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| Introduction | Gut Loading | Dusting | Mixtures | Gut Loading Mealworms | Dusting Mealworms | Gut Loading Crickets | Related Topics |
| Email This Page | Mealworms For Sale | Crickets For Sale | Lizards For Sale |
| Most Important Points To Remember When Feeding Insectivorous Lizards |
| Practical Aspects Of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) |



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