Gut Loading & Cricket Keeping
Feeding crickets a nutritious diet will pass on vital nutrients to your reptile. When reptiles eat these insects, they are, in turn, able to absorb the nutrients. This is why it is important to gut load crickets at least 48 hours before offering them to your reptile. Commercial cricket foods provide a convenient way to gut load crickets. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. Crickets should also be provided with water, preferably in the form of oranges or a commercial gel product designed specifically to hydrate feeder insects. Putting a shallow dish of water in the cricket holding tank will result in insects drowning and promote the spread of bacteria, and is not recommended.
You can also create your own gut-loading formula using a ground up HIGH QUALITY dog food or fish food, cereal and fresh greens with oranges or a commercial gel for hydration.
Crickets can be purchased in large numbers for both convenience and to have more time for gut loading. “Cricket keepers” can be purchased at the pet store, or a larger container can be made by cutting square shapes out of the cover of a large Tupperware container and gluing screen material securely over the newly created openings. Make sure the cover fits tightly and no holes exist where the crickets might escape!
The surface area of your keeper must be increased by placing pieces of cardboard or cardboard egg carton into the box. Placing the egg carton vertically in the container will give more space for the crickets to climb and spread out. Crickets breathe from “spiricles” on the sides of their bodies, so they cannot sit on top of each other without suffocating one another. Despite your best efforts, some crickets will die. Be sure to remove the dead bodies so the ammonia that they emit does not kill the rest of your living crickets. Put the cricket food in several spots within the container so they do not sit on top of one another while eating.
Remember that the better you care for your crickets, the better you care for your reptile pet.