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

 In Exotic Pet

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

Dr. Gary Andes is a reptile vet in the Kingsport area who also treats birds, rare fish and exotics. From parakeets to pythons, the team at Andes-Straley veterinary hospital is here to deliver the best veterinary care to all of your pets, whether they’re scaled, feathered, scaled or fluffy. We’re here to help pet owners in the Tri-State region tackle reptile diet, behavior, housing and more.

Today, Kingsport’s reptile vet Dr. Andes discusses the topic of gut-loading crickets, why we do it and how.

What Is Gut-Loading?

For most reptile owners, gut-loading is a familiar process. The idea is that well-fed crickets supply better nutrition to your insectivorous reptiles like bearded dragons, tokay geckos and anoles.

For reptile enthusiasts with a small collection, this is an easy task.

  • Provide adequate food and water to your feeders
  • Feed crickets a few hours before feeding your reptiles
  • Use cricket feeding solutions if you need to be away from them for a few days

Choose vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens which are nutrient-rich. Avoid iceberg lettuce (it’s mostly water) and spinach (it blocks calcium absorption).

Reptile Vets Agree: Don’t Forget to “Dust” Feeders.

One of the most common diseases reptile vets treat is metabolic bone disease. It’s caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D3. So be sure to “dust” your feeders with a vitamin supplement before feeding and replace UV light sources as needed — even a few times a year.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease include fragile bones, jaw deformities and muscle twitching. It’s a painful condition that’s easy to prevent with diet but hard to fix once it occurs.

Your exotic reptiles, snakes, amphibians and birds require different care than your neighbor’s cats and dogs. But they’re still worthy of excellent veterinary care. Contact us today for an appointment for your reptile.