Presentation on theme: "Feeding Your Food A Guide to Keeping Your Feeders Nutritionally Balanced."— Presentation transcript:
Feeding Your Food A Guide to Keeping Your Feeders Nutritionally Balanced
"You Are What You Eat" Remember that what goes into your feeders is what you are ultimately feeding your reptile. The more attention you give to feeding your feeders the more nutritious your herps meal will be.
Definition of Gut Load" Gut load simply means feeding your insects and rodents nutritious foods, so the nutrition is passed on to your reptiles.
In general we want our herps to have a blood Calcium to Phosphorous ratio (Ca:P ratio) of 3:1. The most commonly fed insects are just the opposite...high in phosphorous and low in calcium.
How do we do it? Products that are specially fortified for gut loading can be purchased either at the pet store or through mail order insect suppliers. These are convenient and generally good quality, but can be expensive.
Home-made Gutload: Feed a MIX of the following: tropical fish flakes leafy greens (mustard/dandelion/collard greens, kale) vegetables such as squash, sweet/regular potatoes, carrots, (peelings are fine) fruits such as oranges, apples alfalfa chicken mash, baby rice cereal, wheat germ, non-sweetened cereals pre-packaged reptile foods, dry cat food sprinkle the mix with a reptile vitamin and calcium supplement for added nutrition.
For Insects: Gut loading should take place for hours prior to when you intend to feed the insects to your pet. Please note that gut loaded insects should still be dusted with calcium and vitamins as per your veterinarian's recommendations.
For Rodents: Gut loading should be more of a balanced diet during their entire growth. This is also true for other feeders, such as fish. This requires some planning, but is well worth it.
More a moisture source than a water source as insects easily drown in open water. However, the number one killer of insects is dehydration AND a lack of moisture will result in cannibalism. Some people use chick waterers, wet sponges or wet cotton balls. Some people prefer using fruit & veggies as moisture sources. Good choices include orange slices, carrots, potato pieces, or any kind of greens. What About Water?
Crickets: Freshly shipped crickets are usually not very nutritionally complete Offer fresh water source and gut load immediately to prevent cannibalism Can last 1 month at room temp
Try mixing equal parts of dry cat food, rolled oats, bran, & chick starter mash for a base. Grinding this mix in a blender works well. The most common base food is calcium fortified chicken egg laying mash. Helpful hints:
Notes: Moisture can lead to mould - remove old veggies/fruit on a daily basis to prevent any mould or fungi. Mouldy food has been linked to many problems and deaths in otherwise healthy animals. Never feed insects to your reptile if they are behaving strangely or there have been a large number of deaths. Rinse all vegetables and fruits thoroughly to remove any trace chemicals / pesticides. To summarize… which fruits and vegetables you feed your feeders will affect their nutritional value, so vary it as much as possible.
Types of Feeder Insects
Mealworms: usually the least expensive feeder insect option are fairly nutritionally complete but still require adjustment keep in the refrigerator (will last indefinitely) once a week remove from the fridge for 24 hours to allow them time to shed and eat if storing for more than a month change their substrate monthly to keep them healthy feeding freshly moulted mealworms is preferred as their outer shell is softer and easier on your reptiles digestive tract
Superworms: are fairly nutritionally complete but still require adjustment cannot keep superworms cold at room temp should last for a month or so once a week change the substrate to keep them healthy feeding freshly moulted superworms is preferred as their outer shell is softer and easier on your reptiles digestive tract
Butterworms: are brightly colored and have an enticing smell have at least twice as much calcium as any other feeder insect (especially good for growing reptiles and pregnant females) they do not require any gut loading
can survive for 1- 4 months if cared for properly - store in a refrigerator to keep them cool and dry (will slow metabolism) If their substrate becomes damp, change it (oatmeal, wheat bran, corn meal works well). Check the worms an hour after changing the substrate. They should be webbing the substrate together to hide under. If the worms are not doing this, change the substrate immediately.
Waxworms: colour and taste attracts most animals high in fat so should be used as treats (can lead to addiction if fed to often) otherwise are very nutritionally complete
cannot be gut loaded but should still be dusted with calcium and vitamins as per your veterinarian's recommendations must be kept cold if kept cold and dry can last up to a month if their substrate becomes damp change it – they wont eat it – purpose is to help keep them dry
Silkworms: can be fed to smaller animals making them ideal for all kinds of reptiles require a warm and humid environment with plenty of food should be allowed to feed constantly for maximum growth rates silkworm chow is easily prepared and fed, allowing you to grow the worms to any size you wish
Types of Gutload
Chicken Mash A great base for all homemade gut loads A standard chicken feed used for egg laying chickens Make sure it has no added herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics or growth hormones can last indefinitely if kept cool and in a dark place
Bee Pollen considered nature's most complete food by many contains 22 elements and more protein per gram than any other natural food has stress reducing and alertness enhancing properties
Cricket Chow specially designed to meet the dietary requirements of crickets usually does not require any cooking
Dehydrated Alfalfa Powder fresh alfalfa is one of the best sources for great calcium to phosphorous ratios typically has an 8:1 ratio shelf life is extended greatly when it is dehydrated - will last indefinitely if kept cool and dark (some nutrition is lost) human grade powder is an excellent source of nutrients for your reptiles
Rodent Chow A well balanced food for rats - dry pellets keep in a dark cool place and it will last indefinitely BUT should be used within 3 months for best results formula supplies complete life-cycle nutrition designed to support reproduction, lactation, growth, and maintenance of rats
Spirulina a tiny aquatic plant that offers 60% protein plus essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids, and more is the world's highest source of beta carotene (brings out the reds, oranges, and yellows in your reptile) can be found in tropical fish food
Gut Load Mixes Example: Boil water and add one part of boiled water to one part of the gut load mix, allow to cool in the refrigerator. Do not boil the water with the gut load mix already in it or else the probiotic cultures will be eliminated. Do not prepare more than you can use in a couple of days (to ensure the highest quality feed). Store unprepared gut load mix in a cool/dark place for maximum shelf life.
Water Gel simple way to provide water to your crickets without worrying about drowning have a long shelf life and are readily accepted contains no nutritional value Some water gels are enriched with calcium and this shortens the life span of the crickets and other insects considerably.
Healthy feeders are the foundation for happy and healthy reptiles. Just as no feeder should be fed a diet consisting of only one type of food, no reptile should be fed a diet consisting of only one type of feeder.