Gutloading feeder insects

Gut loading means that you put healthy food inside the guts of feeder insects prior to feeding them to your pet chameleon. Anything that is in the gut of the feeder insects will automatically be eaten by your chameleon, as it will eat the insect whole.

Healthy feeder insect food for your chameleon are: vegetables, fruits and vitamin-rich food pellets. It is very bad for your chameleon to feed it insects that have been fed with protein-rich food like cat food, dog food or fish flakes. That kind of food might be good for your feeder insects to breed quickly, but can be harmful to your chameleon. Prior to feeding your chameleon you should stop feeding the insects any protein rich food source and switch them to a gut loading diet.

Feeder insects eat different kinds of food, you cannot force a species of feeder insect to eat something it does not naturally eat. Here is a list of do’s and don’t for feeding feeder insects below.

How to gut load any kind feeder insect

You probably breed or buy the insects your are planning to feed to your pet chameleon. When breeding insects either at home or at the breeding company, the insects are generally fed anything that is good for them. They will grow the fastest and produce the most offspring that way. Whatever they are fed could be harmful to your chameleon or could simply lack proper nutrients. Therefore you need to set up a gut loading container for your feeder insects with healthy food for them. Any insect that is destined to be fed to your chameleon will have to spend at least two days in this container. If this container is set up properly and has enough space, it could also be a permanent home for your feeder insects.

The gut loading container can be any plastic box with small ventilation slits or holes. It needs to have some kind of shelter for the insects, like an egg carton, and some dry cover for the bottom like oatmeal flakes or wheat bran. It also need a water source for the insects and of course fresh gutloading food for them.

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You can transfer any insect that you are planning to feed to this container and leave it there for at least 2 days. You cannot mix the feeder insect species together, so you need a separate one for any species you have.

Appropriate gut loading foods

You can gut load your feeder house crickets, field crickets or cockroaches with food like:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Grapes
  • Fresh broccoli or cauliflower
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mustard greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Fresh zucchini
  • Peas
  • Special gut loading flakes

You can gut load your feeder grasshoppers (locusts) with:

  • Fresh green reeds
  • Fresh grass
  • A little bit of fresh apple slices
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Fresh zucchini

You should avoid feeding any feeder insects up the following foods at least 2 days prior feeding them to your chameleon:

  • Cat food
  • Dog food
  • Fish flakes
  • Any leftovers of dinners for people
  • Any meat, eggs, milk etc.

Other species of insects that can be fed to your chameleon are hard to gut load. For example caterpillars, wax worms, meal worms, morio worms and wild-caught insects. When you know the feeder insects have been eating something non-poisonous for your chameleon, like with non-poisonous caterpillars, moths, butterflies, praying mantises and stick insects, you can feed them to your chameleon right away. Wax worms and morio worms generally come with food from the breeder, ask what it is made of. If you are not sure if they have eaten something bad, you should have them fast for 2 days or choose not to feed them to your chameleon at all.