Small Animals

Gut Loading

The Importance Of Gut Loading

Gut Loading

Just about everyone has heard the saying "You are what you eat". Well this is also true for your pets. Feeding a varied diet, and supplementing your animals is only a portion of offering your pet a nutritious diet.

Gut loading is the process in which you feed nutritious foods to the feeder prey you intend on feeding to your pet. The feeder prey could be insects, mice or rats. If you feed nutritious foods to your prey prior to feeding them to your pet, your pet will benefit from the nutrients the prey ingested.

Feeder insects are notoriously malnourished while they await purchase at pet stores. Having little nutritional value, it is pertinent that the feeders are fed and watered before they are offered to your pet. Feeder prey purchased online and at pet stores are also fed an unknown diet, at unknown intervals. We also are not made aware of when they were last fed. As a rule, it is always best to feed the prey you intend on feeding your pet for at least 24 hours before they are fed. This ensures that the feeder prey are thoroughly gut loaded and contain the maximum amount of nutrients that they can hold. In feeding them nutritious and vitamin enriched foods, those nutrients will then get passed on to your pet. This is where the term "gut loading" has come into play. Essentially, you are loading the feeder insects gut with vitamins and minerals that will be passed on to your animal when it is consumed.

How To Gut Load

Gut loading is much easier than many believe. It is as simple as providing fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals to your feeders. You can also offer a nutritionally complete commercial diet. Several commercial products are available and are specifically designed for gut loading. These products often include varying combinations of vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, proteins, and fiber. The type of diet you offer will be dependant on the species being fed. Waxworms and crickets have different dietary needs, as do mealworms and silkworms. As a result, it is important to know the dietary requirements for each species so that you can adequately provide them with a nutritious gut loading prior to feeding them to your pet.

Feeder Insects

Gut loading is more important when the predator being fed is an insectivore or includes insect as a normal part of their diet. Mice and rats have natural nutrients in them because their anatomy has larger organs and body mass, which offers more protein, vitamins and minerals than the empty shell of an insect.

Larval insects such as waxworms, superworms and mealworms typically contain more nutrients than crickets and their adult moth or beetle forms.

Breed Feeder Insects

The following list is a compilation of feeder insects commonly used as feeder prey for insectivore owners. Each resource includes additional information on the species as well as information on how you can breed them at home.

Crickets - Achetus domesticus
Mealworms - Tenebrio molitor
Orange Spotted Roaches - blaptica dubia
Waxworms - Galleria mellonella
Lobster Roaches - Nauphoeta cinerea
Superworms - Zophobas morio
Phoenix Worms - Hermetia illucens
Silkworms - Bombyx mori
Fruit Flies - Drosophila hydei - melanogaster
Butterworms - Chilecomadia moorei