The term ‘gutloading’ refers to feeding insects high quality food which then will benefit the lizard
when it eventually consumes the bugs. Generally, the food will stay inside the insects for a few days until it passes through & is excreted. Therefore, it is necessary to always top up the gut-loading food as and when it is eaten by the bugs. We recommend and use Repashy Bug Burger for our insects. Our specialist reptile vet (Ben @ Alders) said that 4 out of 5 of the lizards he sees have Vitamin A deficiency due to the Vitamin A within supplements losing its effectiveness after 6-8 weeks. Repashy contains Vits A, D, E and Calcium as well as a myriad of bugs, artificial plant extracts and the majority of the insects absolutely LOVE it! The ideal combination of gut-loading and dusting makes insects massively more beneficial to your lizard and has been known to cure health issues such as symptoms associated with Vitamin A deficiency (sore eyes, loss of appetite, shedding difficulties & sensitivity to light, for example). You can also feed and hydrate your feeder insects using salad leaves, grass, carrot, etc. But whilst this keeps your insects alive, if often doesn’t directly benefit your lizard. All insects should be dusted before feeding to your lizard with either a multivitamin & mineral supplement or plain calcium such as powdered cuttlefish bone.
Keep locusts warm, feed fresh grass (not salad, as this tends to sit in their stomach and rot unless they are kept very hot, which then kills the locust). They prefer the Bug Burger formula if it is slightly more runny. Locusts are perhaps less nutritious than other bugs to feed to your lizard but are fun to feed as they jump about, meaning the lizard has to chase them.
Crickets need to be kept warm enough to be actively feeding on their gut-load food, but can survive colder temperatures. Keep them hydrated with regular ‘Bug Burger’ or with cricket gel (which is simply water in a gel form), carrot or small bits of salad, dandelion leaves or grass.
NB: both crickets and locusts last much longer if they are transferred from the tubs they are sold in to ventilated, larger containers (such as plastic faunariums or cricket keepers) to prevent moisture, mould & death!
Mealworms are the larva of the darkling beetle (which lizards do not eat). They need to be kept warm enough to actively consume their gutload foods, but keep them too warm and they will start to pupate so won’t last long. These are very easy to gut-load and will happily consume Bug Burger, carrot, brown bread, apple and salad leaves. It is important to keep these in a ventilated tub, preferably with no lid, because if they get too moist they start smelling bad and die. There are different sizes of mealworms – mini, standard and large, so choose the correct size in relation to the size of your lizard. When gut-loaded & dusted they make a particularly good staple food as they can be contained in a bowl and left in the enclosure without bothering the lizard (esp chameleons & leopard geckos) if it’s not hungry.
These are actually a type of jungle worm (rather than a mealworm, as commonly thought). They exist in the wild in warm, jungle environments where they would consume meat as well as vegetables. If kept warm & ventilated, these worms can stay alive for several months and are a tasty food item for larger lizards. To maximise their usefulness as a staple these must be gut-loaded well and dusted. They hungrily eat Repashy Bug Burger as well as brown bread, apple, carrot and
salad leaves. These can cause obesity in bearded dragons if fed in too big a quantity without offering along with a variety of other bugs, but their longevity means there is no rush to feed them all before they die.
Waxworms are the caterpillar of the white moth. They are very fatty with low nutritional content and it is not easy to gut-load these with anything that would be beneficial to lizards. However, these can be an occasional tasty treat for most lizards and are useful as an energy source for lizards which are weak or need feeding up. The moths that they turn into can also be fed to lizards such as smaller chameleons for a bit of variety.
These are the grub of the sun beetle (pachnoda marginata) and can be a succulent, juicy & tasty treat for larger lizards. The grubs eat fruit such as banana and can be quite fatty so nutritionally they are not suitable as a staple food.
Roaches are an excellent source of protein and they are easy to gut-load, making them a brilliant feeder insect for lizards when available. Easy to breed and so can be fed from small to adult to lizards of all sizes – as long as you keep them in escape-proof containers!