Maintenance Diet/ Gut load Methods and Research Thread!

Digs

Member
Hello! I've decided to create a thread dedicated to the methods and research of maintenance and gut-loading diets for feeder insects.
Here's some literature that I've read:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27405009/
http://titag.org/2015/2015papers/attardcrickets.pdf

https://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/61/3/557.full.pdf
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0218830

These are currently the diets I maintain my feeder insects on:
Crickets: Fed tropical fish flakes, Dumor chicken Layer crumbles grounded up with cucumber and carrots.
Meal/Superworms: Dumor chicken Layer crumbles(Non- Medicated and no Diatomaceous Earth) grounded up, sweet potatoes, Apples and Carrots. Breeding beetles are supplemented with tropical fish flake to help with carb/protein ratio.
Dubia roaches: Fed a low protein diet of oatmeal and fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the uric acid levels they currently might have.

I have ordered some T-rex cricket diet for gut-load and according to some sites each feeder requires a different time window for peek nutrient levels.

I'm currently searching for some feed that contains high vitamin A and E levels.
 

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Crickets: Fed tropical fish flakes, Dumor chicken Layer crumbles grounded up with cucumber and carrots.
Meal/Superworms: Dumor chicken Layer crumbles(Non- Medicated and no Diatomaceous Earth) grounded up, sweet potatoes, Apples and Carrots. Breeding beetles are supplemented with tropical fish flake to help with carb/protein ratio.
Dubia roaches: Fed a low protein diet of oatmeal and fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the uric acid levels they currently might have.

How much protein do your tropical fish flakes contain? Are they Tetramin Fish Flakes?

Have you seen this link regarding the phosphorus content of oatmeal?
 
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Digs

Member
How much protein do your tropical fish flakes contain? Are they Tetramin Fish Flakes?

Have you seen this link regarding the phosphorus content of oatmeal?

Yes they're the TetraMin fishflakes. Yes I have read that link but I was thinking that perhaps if used with a high calcium formal gut-load like T- rex it would help with increasing the calcium to optimum levels. Maybe I took my hypothesis a bit too far? :coverlaugh:
I do have a grounded up 5 seed meal that I want to try for the roaches instead though.
 

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Yes they're the TetraMin fishflakes. Yes I have read that link but I was thinking that perhaps if used with a high calcium formal gut-load like T- rex it would help with increasing the calcium to optimum levels. Maybe I took my hypothesis a bit too far? :coverlaugh:
I do have a grounded up 5 seed meal that I want to try for the roaches instead though.

When I started out with geckos in 1988, I used Tetramin Fish Flakes for the crickets for a while. At that time TetraMin Fish Flakes contained 46% protein!!!

Nutrition is a pretty complicated science.
 

Digs

Member
When I started out with geckos in 1988, I used Tetramin Fish Flakes for the crickets for a while. At that time TetraMin Fish Flakes contained 46% protein!!!

Nutrition is a pretty complicated science.

They still do contain that much protein, that's why I dont give them to the roaches. Yes nutrition is complicated that's why I stopped trying to make my own homemade food from scratch and just leave it up to the commercial foods. I like searching for Mazuri diets since they have a full product sheet of almost all the nutrients in the food :D.
 

Digs

Member
I'm planning on doing an experimental meal/superworm bedding consisting of Dumor's 16% poultry layer crumbles and Mazuri's timothy based guinea pig diet. I'm aiming to increase the calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin D levels in the worms.

Here are some links to studies that I'm basing this mix off of

Method of Altering the Nutrient Composition of Feeder Insects - Mark Finke LLC

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26366856/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11428399/

Nutrient info on both foods

Mazuri Guinea Pig Diet: https://pims.purinamills.com/BusinessLink/media/Mazuri/ProductSheet/5E6A.pdf?ext=.pdf

Dumor 16% Poultry Layer Crumbles: Crude Protein (min): 16.00%
Lysine (min): 0.70%
Methionine (min): 0.35%
Crude Fat (min): 3.00%
Crude Fiber (max): 7.00%
Ash (max): 18.00%
Calcium (min): 3.80%
Calcium (max): 4.80%'
Phosphorus (min): 0.60%
Salt (min): 0.25%
Salt (max): 0.75%
Sodium (min): 0.01%
Sodium (max): 0.50%
Vitamin A (min): 3,000 IU/LB
Vitamin E (min): 15 IU/LB
Total Microorganisms (min): 3.7 x 10( to the power of 8 I don't know how to type exponents on an hp) CFU/LB
 

Digs

Member
My feeder insects are doing great on the new meal/superworm bedding. I now even feed it to the crickets and dubia roaches. I haven't really checked on the dubia roaches to see if they've been eating it but I had a small herd of crickets go after it in their dish.
I want to put them into ball amber jars to protect the vitamins and minerals inside from UV damage. I'm also concerned about what will happen to my coffee grinder due to the large amount of time I need to use it in order to grind the ingredients as fine as possible but I could perhaps just wait 15 minutes every time it feels like the grinder is beginning to get overheated.
 

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
My feeder insects are doing great on the new meal/superworm bedding. I now even feed it to the crickets and dubia roaches. I haven't really checked on the dubia roaches to see if they've been eating it but I had a small herd of crickets go after it in their dish.
I want to put them into ball amber jars to protect the vitamins and minerals inside from UV damage. I'm also concerned about what will happen to my coffee grinder due to the large amount of time I need to use it in order to grind the ingredients as fine as possible but I could perhaps just wait 15 minutes every time it feels like the grinder is beginning to get overheated.

Are you sending the ingredients through your grinder more than once? Have you a lab to test the feeders before and after?

Overheating definitely kills the motor.

Last July my mini-grinder died. I'd "gently" used it about 10 years. I upgraded to a large Krups GX5000 model that carries a 2 year international guarantee. It's a $50 model that I found on sale for $37.
 

Digs

Member
Are you sending the ingredients through your grinder more than once? Have you a lab to test the feeders before and after?

Overheating definitely kills the motor.

Last July my mini-grinder died. I'd "gently" used it about 10 years. I upgraded to a large Krups GX5000 model that carries a 2 year international guarantee. It's a $50 model that I found on sale for $37.

Yes I grind the ingredients separately and then grind the two powders together to get them mixed up and grounded up more. Unfortunately I don’t have a lab so then I can put the insects into the freezer after a week or two to test their nutrients, I made this recipe to what I could get out of the scientific studies posted above. I really want to contact the researchers behind those studies but I can’t get their contact info and I have tried asking a question on ResearchGate but it seems that I need to be a member in order to do that. ☹️
 
Kudos for doing exacting research, but why work so hard lol? I use pro-gut load dry food for my crickets, mealworms, and roaches. But all of them also get fresh fruit and veggies daily. Anything that the dry diet lacks the fresh stuff should make up for.

(I grow my own kale, dandelion greens, sweet potato, alfalfa sprouts, and squash) the greens I grow inside year round on my kitchen table, the bigger stuff only in the summer lol. I also give fresh organic pesticide free fruit scraps on occasion when I have it.

You don't even have to grow your own stuff if you know where to get pesticide free produce. Ask your local farmers' markets and support locally grown stuff for you and your feeders :)
 

Digs

Member
Kudos for doing exacting research, but why work so hard lol? I use pro-gut load dry food for my crickets, mealworms, and roaches. But all of them also get fresh fruit and veggies daily. Anything that the dry diet lacks the fresh stuff should make up for.

(I grow my own kale, dandelion greens, sweet potato, alfalfa sprouts, and squash) the greens I grow inside year round on my kitchen table, the bigger stuff only in the summer lol. I also give fresh organic pesticide free fruit scraps on occasion when I have it.

You don't even have to grow your own stuff if you know where to get pesticide free produce. Ask your local farmers' markets and support locally grown stuff for you and your feeders :)

Unfortunately due to having a very limited choice of captive bred feeder insects that are easily accessible in captivity and feeder insects' ability to pick and choose nutrients according to what's good for them rather than what's good for the reptile, hard work is required if you want a considerable amount of nutrients to actually be passed to the reptile :(. There are only 3 proven gut loads that I know of so far and those are Mazuri Better Bug, Mazuri Hi Calcium diet, and T- rex calcium plus cricket diet.
There are 3 issues to deal with when trying to increase nutrients in the feeder insects available. One is that you have to have enough of a targeted nutrient in the food to actually be passed on to the reptile rather than be completely absorbed by the insect. 4-8% calcium has been found to effectively increase calcium in feeder insects,23,000 IU/kg of vitamin A is recommended, and 69- 691 IU/kg for vitamin E.
The second issue is that some nutrients, like calcium, need to be the right consistency. Crickets are experts at skipping over pieces that have high amounts of calcium that are going to be beneficial to the reptile. When formulating a gutloading diet you have to make sure the calcium in the diet is small enough to where the cricket has no choice but to eat the high amount of calcium in order to get the rest of the nutrients that are in the diet. Calcium of this form is expensive and difficult to obtain even in laboratory settings and this is why Fluker's isn't a good diet for gutloading because crickets avoid calcium bits in their food with no problem.
The third issue is that different specie of feeder insects eat and absorb the diet differently. There was a study done with Mazuri Better Bug and Mazuri Hi Calcium. Crickets and Superworms both had optimal calcium levels on Mazuri Better Bug but on Mazuri Hi Calcium their calcium levels were lower than the phosphorus level. It was the other way around for mealworms, on the Mazuri Better Bug the mealworms' calcium levels where lower than their phosphorus levels but their calcium went up to more optimal levels on the Mazuri Hi Calcium diet.
Even if a company manages to get through all of these things when formulating their gutload wild feeder insects still have way more nutrients in them than a properly gut loaded captive insect.

Sources:
https://patents.google.com/patent/US9480278B2/en

https://nagonline.net/wp-content/up...luation-for-crickets-mealworms-superworms.pdf
 

Digs

Member
SpottedDragon I have went outside and collected some dandelion green seeds and put them into a planting pot a week ago. I'll have to see if they have sprouted yet and maybe I could look into planting sweet potatoes too :).
 
Have you come across any research on raw / fresh diets (mainly for crickets)? I've looked but it doesn't seem to be a topic anyone has studied. You can easily grow alfalfa, flax, oat, and chia seeds at home in a small green house organically - and for locusts / wild crickets tender grasses and crops seem to be a thing to go for. Not sure on the nutrition as all of these are marketed with humans in mind.
 

Digs

Member
Have you come across any research on raw / fresh diets (mainly for crickets)? I've looked but it doesn't seem to be a topic anyone has studied. You can easily grow alfalfa, flax, oat, and chia seeds at home in a small green house organically - and for locusts / wild crickets tender grasses and crops seem to be a thing to go for. Not sure on the nutrition as all of these are marketed with humans in mind.

https://nagonline.net/wp-content/up...ONTENT-OF-ADULT-CRICKETS-ACHETA-DOMESTICA.pdf

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi...CDYEreIuhAOfUMNGYKNp0OeQ1_k_NE4_GZfKEiI6JYgIz

https://nagonline.net/wp-content/up...LE-SLICES-FOR-MAXIMUM-CALCIUM-GUT-LOADING.pdf
 
Another thing to consider is adding bee pollen to diets. I feed it to the insects and once a month dust with it for the geckos. It has all kinds of vitamins and minerals in it and other benefits such as lowering cholesterol and such. There really isn't a "dose" that has been studied in captive reptiles that I could find - most studies are on rats and people, but it is interesting none the less. I figure that leos being desert creatures - lots of non-bee insects pollinate plants and the geckos probably get pollen off of them in the wild.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/297425/
 
Another thing to consider is adding bee pollen to diets. I feed it to the insects and once a month dust with it for the geckos. It has all kinds of vitamins and minerals in it and other benefits such as lowering cholesterol and such. There really isn't a "dose" that has been studied in captive reptiles that I could find - most studies are on rats and people, but it is interesting none the less. I figure that leos being desert creatures - lots of non-bee insects pollinate plants and the geckos probably get pollen off of them in the wild.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/297425/
 

Digs

Member
Another thing to consider is adding bee pollen to diets. I feed it to the insects and once a month dust with it for the geckos. It has all kinds of vitamins and minerals in it and other benefits such as lowering cholesterol and such. There really isn't a "dose" that has been studied in captive reptiles that I could find - most studies are on rats and people, but it is interesting none the less. I figure that leos being desert creatures - lots of non-bee insects pollinate plants and the geckos probably get pollen off of them in the wild.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/297425/

I used to feed my feeders bee pollen. I don't know how much of each vitamin is in bee pollen in terms of IU/kg or IU/lb. I like to stick with foods that give me a better idea of how much vitamin A,E,and D are in them like Mazuri.
 

Digs

Member
I have been told that T - Rex has a diet specifically meant for mealworms currently in testing but they can’t say when it might be released. I wonder if it will be for gut loading or maintenance.
 
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