What is Gut-Loading?
Gut-loading is the process of feeding your crickets a healthy diet. It is absolutely essential in raising a healthy chameleon. We do this for two reason:
- It will fill crickets up with nutritious items such as vegetables, grains and fruits. You can’t feed your panther chameleon these items, but crickets will eat it readily. Your panther chameleon indirectly consumes these items by eating the crickets.
- It will clean out the crickets system of any impurities. Often, crickets purchased at the pet store are feeding on food that has no nutritional content. In some cases, the crickets are feeding on cardboard & bedding. To some degree, gut-loading cleans the crickets.
Gut-loading can be accomplished in two ways. The first is buying commercial gut-loads. The second is preparing them yourself. Obviously there are pros and cons with the two methods. Below you will find a chart outlining the pros and cons.
|Commercial gut-loads||Quick and easy. Commercial gut-loads
can be purchased at the pet store or online. Dry gut-loads will
not spoil as fast as veggies and fruits. Fairly easy to keep
clean. They are also cost effective.
|Many of the commercial gut-loads are not as nutritious
as we’d like them to be. They are often loaded with fillers, and
lack the proper nutrition needed for healthy chameleons.
|Self-prepared gut-loads||Optimal nutrition can be accomplished with
a self-prepared gut-load of veggies and fruits. You have the
flexibility of adding the ingredients needed to sustain a healthy
chameleon. This is also cost effective.
|Takes a bit of time to prepare. If too much is
offered to crickets, the uneaten portion tends to spoil very fast.
To correct this, simply offer less to the crickets.
|Combination of the two above||By offering both a dry commercial mix and a
self-prepared gut-load, you’ll get the benefits of both.
|You’ll also get the combined disadvantages of both.
The key is a balance between the two.
As of this writing, we do not have a preferred vendor of choice when it comes to commercially-available gut-loads. We are not impressed with what is on the market. Having said that, gut-loading with what is available is definitely better than not gut-loading at all.
Self-Prepared gut-loads are very much like salads. You’ll have to make sure the ingredients are cleaned before offering them to your crickets. Do not overfeed! Leafy greens can be rinsed off and offered in small amounts. Other veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes should be cut into small pieces with a cheese grater. Below is a list of ingredients that can be used for a self-prepared gut-load:
- Leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, lettuce (Not Iceberg Lettuce!)
- Carrots (grated)
- Oranges (sliced)
- Bee pollen
- Dried Kelp
- Brewers yeast
Timing Is Everything!
The key to gut-loading is feeding the crickets to your panther chameleon, while the ingredients are still fresh inside the crickets. Below is a schedule of when you should gut-load.
|Feeding Time||Gut-load Time|
|If you feed in the mornings||then gut-load the night before.|
|If you feed in the afternoons||then gut-load in the morning (preferably 4 hours before feeding)|
|If you feed at night (Generally not recommended)||then gut-load mid-day to early evening|
- In general, try gut-loading 4-6 hours prior to offering the crickets to your panther.
- It’s better to underfeed your crickets than overfeed.
- If you see left over food the next day, that means you fed to much.
This should be enough information to get you started on gut-loading. It was meant to be a quick guide, so many details were left out. If you are interested in reptile nutrition, you should also search the Web to find out how others are gut-loading. Thanks for reading!