Ask a Reptile Vet: How (and Why) to Gut-Load Crickets

 In Exotic Pet

Inquire with a Reptile Vet: Gut-Loading Crickets and Its Importance

Dr. Gary Andes, a reptile vet in the Kingsport area with expertise in treating birds, rare fish, and exotics, including parakeets, pythons, and more. At Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital, our dedicated team is committed to providing top-notch veterinary care for all your pets, whether they have scales, feathers, fur, or all of the above. We’re here to assist pet owners in the Tri-State region with reptile diet, behavior, housing, and more.

Today, Dr. Andes sheds light on the practice of gut-loading crickets, explaining its purpose and how to go about it.

Understanding Gut-Loading:

For most reptile owners, gut-loading is a familiar routine. The concept revolves around ensuring that well-fed crickets offer superior nutrition to insectivorous reptiles like bearded dragons, tokay geckos, and anoles.

For reptile enthusiasts managing a small collection, this process is straightforward:

  1. Provide ample food and water for your feeders.
  2. Feed the crickets a few hours before serving them to your reptiles.
  3. Use cricket feeding solutions if you anticipate being away for a few days.

Opt for nutrient-rich vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens. Avoid iceberg lettuce (high water content) and spinach (impedes calcium absorption).

Reptile Vets Emphasize: “Dust” Feeders Regularly

Metabolic bone disease is a common ailment treated by reptile vets, stemming from insufficient calcium and vitamin D3. Therefore, it’s crucial to “dust” your feeders with a vitamin supplement before feeding and periodically replace UV light sources, even a few times a year.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease encompass brittle bones, jaw deformities, and muscle twitching. While it is a painful condition, preventive measures through proper diet are essential, as rectifying it once it occurs can be challenging.

Your exotic reptiles, snakes, amphibians, and birds necessitate specialized care distinct from that of conventional pets. They deserve outstanding veterinary attention. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your reptile.