Before I answer this, I will just admit that I probably have probably spent an unusual amount of time researching the nutritional content of insects
That said, the basic food for most people is mealworms. Ron Tremper, who is pretty much the godfather of captive leopard geckos, says he has rarely fed anything else in over 30 years. Mealworms are fairly high in fat, and the calcium:phosphorus ratio is terrible (~1:25). I haven't seen any reliable research that has defined the optimum calcium:phosphorus ratio for leos, and I have only recently started keeping them. But for an example, the optimum calcium:phosphorus ratio for a bearded dragon is 2:1, and most reptiles are somewhat similar, so basically, they are terrible feeder insects. I believe this is why most leopard gecko keepers say you need to keep a separate dish of calcium in with the animals as they need constant calcium, even more than dusting every worm, if this is their main food source.
Crickets are also used, and a better food source, more protein, less fat, and a better calcium:phosphorus ratio (~1:12). There are many other insects that can be fed. Silkworms seem to be good, they are very high in protein, calcium:phosphorus ~1:2.4. There is conflictive research on the amount of fat they have, but in my limited time working with leos, they almost seem to not have enough fat content, especially for breeding females. Superworms are used quite a bit, but are very high in fat, and can be used to to put weight on an animal. Butterworms are very good, with a high amount of calcium, though the exact ratio of calcium:phosphorus is unknown, as is the exact fat content. Phoenix worms would probably be the best feeder for leopard geckos, but so far in my experience, they just don't seem to like them. Waxworms are good treats for leos, but are very fatty, and many lizards can seem to get addicted to them and refuse other foods, kinda like a kid who would rather have a candy bar, and shouldn't be used as a staple in my opinion.
So long story short, mealworms are fine as long as constant calcium is provided and the worms are dusted. Crickets would be a better staple, but can be harder for some geckos to catch quickly, and personally, I don't like leaving them in the cage long term as there are some species of crickets going around now that can actually bite and injure an animal. Superworms can be used, but not as a primary feeder IMHO. They are very good for breeding females. Silks seem to be good, and would be a good choice for a gecko that is looking a little on the heavy side. the rest are mostly treats, though with one of the babies that I have and keep, I may see how they do with butterworms as a staple food.
So it is basically worms and crickets. Where did you get them from? Do you keep buying or breed your own food at home?
I have never heard of leopard gecko can refuse anything but a specific treat. Are they this picky in the wild too? How do they manage to survive if they reject all possible food sources except for one specific worm?
Well, like most reptiles, about 90% of them die before they reach adulthood. So I have no idea how picky they can be. And you can get them onto new food sources. I just got the last of my babies that have hatched so far eating. I think it has allot to do with what they are offered when young, and thy get used to it. My adult male is a pig. He will eat anything.
People also offer them pinkie mice, but generally most experienced keepers think this is not such a good idea. I'm sure they will take something like this in the wild if they find them, but it is not a good healthy option for a normal food source.
I purchase most of my insects locally. I know a breeder who has a retail store front, and they do really good deals if you order bulk from them, and they just ad it onto their order. I do order stuff online sometimes, but you have to get a pretty large order to make it economical. They sell silkworms in pods now, with 40 - 60 babies in a cup, with food at the top and a lattice type material they can climb, so that is very easy to keep up with. I actually have 7 species of insects in my house a this point, domestic crickets, Acheta domesticus, mealworms, Tenebrio molitor, superworms, Zophobas morio, butterworms, Chilecomadia moorei, waxworms, Achroia grisella, phoenix worms, Hermetia illucens, (these are a "brand name" of black soldier fly larvae, and silkworms, Bombyx mori.
So I think it best to go with variety obviously. Instead of giving hoards of a less nutritious insect and loading the animal up with powdered calcium, it makes more sense to me to add in some insects that have a higher calcium content. My adult male is looking fat, so he gets no more supers, just a silkworm or two every other day. And my females that have laid 10 eggs each are getting some good weight back, and get all the butters (for the high calcium), supers, and silks they want. A good combination of high calcium, high fat, and high protein.
The nature zone gecko bites aren't made for leos. If you are going to have an insectivorous lizard you are going to have to handle bugs to keep it healthy. The freeze dried insects have very little nutritional value too. Maybe not bad as a treat or addition, but I wouldn't feed anything around it. I do have some of those beardie bites, they are good if the beardie will eat them. But again, you can't base the dragons diet around it. Adults need fresh greens, babies need live insects. I put a bit in the salad once in a while, as it does have some good vitamins. The flukers cricket cubes and foods are phenomenal. I have the cricket food, and I feed it to most of my feeder bugs, crickets, supers, mealies. And that site is great, prices are good, (They have the cheapest reptisun bulbs I've seen.) and if you order over $50 there is no shipping. Can't beat that.
Yes, the Jamaican crickets bite. Hard. I am far from an entomologist, so I am scared to try to identify different species. I don't leave any crickets in any enclosure with any reptile I am not supervising. There is actually a potential third species. I used to get all of my crickets from Gahns, but they have switched to the Gryllus assimilis too.
It was a baby gecko if I remember correctly, and yes it was killed, and partially eaten. Crickets will eat almost anything, including feces. Which on a separate subject, is how many people get unhealthy loads of internal parasites and bacteria in their lizards. The crickets stay in the cage feeding on the parasites in the feces, lizard eats cricket, defecates parasites, which is fed on by crickets, immensely speeding up the life cycle of the parasites, mostly coccidia.
And yes, I do know too much about insects. Damn lizards
Crickets? Yes. I don't necessarily stand over the cage the whole time, but I don't go far or for long either. Or they come out. Which is very fun by the way, chasing crickets around a cage. I am all out of very young/baby beardies, so I shan't be buying any more boxes of 1000 crickets in the near future, which makes me happy. I am not sure if they are only from Jamaica, or the Caribbean in general, I refuse to have the unusual amount of scientific information I seem to possess on an unusual number of things on a bug that I don't even like. I was holding out hope that the virus that was wiping out all the domestic crickets would be checked, and there would be enough quarantined crickets left to reestablish the population, but that is looking less and less likely. Every time I find someone with them, they end up shipping the damn G. assimilis eventually.
You can build a cricket keeper out of almost anything. I use large 60 - 80 qt tubs, with holes cut in the top covered in screens. Cricket food across the bottom, a couple pf pieces of egg crate, & either some of the water crystals or a damp sponge. To clean, tilt the whole tub and shake everything loose to one side. Slide the egg crate to the other side, and put in a bright place so the crickets go to hide in the egg crate. Then sweep/vacuum out.
Almost all of the worms have an adult stage. Mealworms and superworms turn into beetles. The superworms won't pupate unless they are by themselves though. The companies that ship the butterworms out of Chile sterilize them so they can't spin a cocoon, and it seem that the phoenix worm people do the same, but I have seen it happen from time to time.
Then the worms can't be kept for too long since they will turn into beetles. How long can you keep a new batch of worms usually?
Keeping live food for your pets is quite troublesome. That's why I always keep frozen or freeze dried food for my fish. But I guess live food is the most nutritious and it can bring out the natural behavior of the pets.
Well, most of the freeze dried insects are nutritiously useless. I'm all for frozen foods. I order 100's of frozen rodents at a time. There is a term in the herp hobby world called gut loading, which means to feed the insects high quality food right before feeding them to your animal, because they don't retain nutrients long, even when they are alive. Some of the larger caterpillars can be sold dried and have a little nutrition left, silkworms in particular. Sold as Zoo Med's Can O' Pillars. But they still don't seem to have the same amount of nutrition.
If I actually listed what and where all of the bugs are in my house, you would think I was nuts. Some are in the fridge. Butterworms, wax worms, and mealworms can be held in a stasis this way almost indefinitely. I keep some mealies out to eat and gutload so they are nutritious before feeding. I have silkworms in feeding pods, if I buy them small I can keep them a few weeks before they cocoon up. Superworms & Phoenix worms in small containers, supers I can get a few weeks out of, the phoenix's go much quicker. Crickets are in a large tub, I buy med's (5/8"), and I can get a few weeks out if 'em by the time they are over 1".
05-21-2012, 06:57 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-21-2012, 06:59 PM by Ram.)
All the manufacturers claim their freeze dried food retain most of its nutrition value.
I have no way to confirm their claim.
No need to be shy on the amount of food you keep for your reptiles.
I also overdid (yes, I realized it very well) it after I ordered many different brands and types of fish food for my fish from several different online pet stores. I have dozens different food for them just because I read it online that a variety of food can ensure a more balanced diet, since each food can't have every needed nutrition.
I even made a chart on what to feed on Monday, what to feed on Tuesday, etc. You got the idea.
Not exactly sure how much differences it had made, but I surely feel better when I feed different food on different days of the week. I only feed high quality food from the best brands.
When you say you keep the worms in stasis almost indefinitely, do you mean they are able to stay alive for a very very long time if you keep them in the fridge? Do you need to feed them at all?
The fridge trick only really works with certain worms. Butterworms, mealworms, and waxworms mostly. Butters and waxes will last a few weeks, maybe a month or a bit longer. I have found small containers of mealworms that I had forgotten about, and they are fine. I actually have never had mealies die in the fridge. I'm sure its possible, but it would take a while.
I know the manufacturers are being their own advocates, but until there is some advancement in technology, insect just don't keep much nutrition when dried, no matter who does it.
(05-21-2012, 06:00 PM)Fishbone Wrote: Superworms & Phoenix worms in small containers, supers I can get a few weeks out of, the phoenix's go much quicker.
I have had an old Daisy tub (yes, the sourcream container) full of about 35 supers and dirt for about a month, and before that they lived at the school for at least that long, maybe longer, in a much larger bin with a significantly higher number of worms. They're still alive and well and still perfectly worm-like, I feed them orange peels, lettuce leaves gone limp in the fridge, dog food, and I stir them up daily...if your supers only last a few weeks, why do mine seem to have an infinite lifespan?
If you take care of them, they will last a while. I have never tried to keep them more than about 3 weeks. But I have had very few ever die either. I use oats and bran, then add whatever veggie scraps to them. If you have nothing else, you can just put a few pieces of potato in there for moisture. It would also depend on the age you started with them. You can get them small, about the size of a mealworm. And let them grow. It is hard to find them for sale at that size in some places though. Most of the ones I have gotten are 2+ inches long, so they are close to pupation. Keeping them together in groups hinders the pupation, and I am actually not sure how long this stasis can go on for. So I normally try to feed them out.
Were the ones you have large when they got to the school?
Yeah, I believe so. They'd come in about 1.5 inches long, give or take. Mine aren't a whole heck of a lot larger than that. Their longevity was one of the perks of having them, because animals would come and go or eat more one day than the next, so it was nice having feeder critters that lasted a while. Group stasis explains a lot, usually the entire box would get put in the same bin when they arrived.
For some reason they won't pupate with allot of movement and contact. I was going on the the amount that I know you can keep them without a lot of work. I use them allot. They are pretty high in fat though, and some animals will get stuck on them and not want other healthier feeders.
Huh, they are weird little bugs. I know that the beardies got them regularly at the school (recently ran out, commercial dragon food for now), and that when we had a group of hatchling American Alligators they got superworms as a treat sometimes. For the babies supers were like candy, for the beardies standard food. They got stirred up daily or else the various old veggies, sweet potatoes, etc. would stink to high heaven...