Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: what can possibly go wrong about giving feeder insects to a reptile? Our scaly friends know what to do, right?
Well, yes, and…
Handling feeder insects properly is more than meets the eye.
Sure, Bernie the Beardie generally won’t let you down when it comes to snapping up those wriggly little snacks. (Although if he does decide to go on a hunger strike, we have a blog to help.)
But beyond just getting the bugs into your reptile’s belly, there are a lot of other things you should be aware of as a beginner reptile owner.
Winston Churchill once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes. “
Fortunately, in this day and age we have an even better solution. The internet makes it easy to learn from other peoples’ mistakes in advance, so you don’t have to make them yourself. (At least, that’s the ideal. If you’ve already made one or more of these common mistakes, don’t beat up on yourself. They’re common for a reason!)
Anyway, what you are about to read is the wisdom gained by countless reptile owners making many, many mistakes over the years, so you don’t have to.
We’ll reveal the eight most common mistakes newbie reptile parents make when giving feeder insects to pet reptiles and how to avoid them.
Ready? Let’s go!
Reptile Diet Mistakes
The first thing to consider when it comes to feeder insects is the dietary needs of your reptile. You want to be sure you’re giving him the right nutrients every time you fill his bowl! These tips will help you get there:
Mistake #1: Not researching your reptile’s dietary needs
Different reptile species have specific dietary requirements and nutritional needs. Sticking to just crickets or mealworms for an insectivore can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Research your specific reptile’s natural diet and offer a variety of feeder insects like dubia roaches, phoenix worms, and black soldier fly larvae. Keep in mind that some insects, like dubia roaches, are suitable as staple foods for most reptiles. Others are best used as occasional treats. Choose wisely!
Mistake #2: Neglecting calcium and vitamin supplementation
Most captive insects naturally lack the necessary calcium and vitamins essential for reptiles. Dust feeders with a calcium and vitamin D3 powder before feeding to prevent metabolic bone disease.
Reptile Feeding Mistakes
How you feed your reptile matters just as much as what you feed him. The following tips will help you feed in ways that keep your pet healthy, happy, and safe.
Mistake #3: Overfeeding
Reptiles generally eat less than most mammals. Research the appropriate feeding schedule and amount for your species, considering age, activity level, and metabolism. Overfeeding a reptile can lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, and other health problems.
Mistake #4: Offering dead insects
Some reptiles will eat dead or freeze dried insects just fine. Others, especially smaller ones, require movement in their food to trigger their hunting instincts and ensure proper feeding. Use live insects whenever possible, or wiggle deceased ones with tongs to mimic movement. Live insects are the freshest, too!
Mistake #5: Walking away from the scene of carnage
We all know lizards eat bugs. But did you know that some bugs bite back? For a tragic story you won’t forget, read our blog Reptile Food 101: Can’t Miss Feeder Insect Safety Tips. And make it a practice to not leave feeder insects in your reptile’s enclosure unattended. (In case you’re wondering, crickets are the biggest culprits when it comes to biting. Dubia roaches are a much safer bet.)
Other Feeder Insect Mistakes:
Here are a couple more things to avoid when it comes to feeding your reptile properly:
Mistake #6: Improper gut-loading
Gut-loading involves feeding nutritious foods to the feeder insects before offering them to your reptile. This ensures your reptile receives essential nutrients from the insects’ gut contents. To learn all about this best reptile feeding practice, check out our blog about gut loading dubia roaches.
Mistake #7: Housing insects improperly
Keeping feeder insects in inadequate conditions can stress them, making them less nutritious and potentially introducing parasites to your reptile. Ensure proper ventilation, temperature, and humidity for your feeder insects. If you’d like to know how to store dubia roaches properly, guess what? We wrote an entire article on the topic! Learn how to keep dubia roaches healthy here.
Mistake #8: Inviting parasites to dinner
Some feeder insects can carry parasites harmful to reptiles (crickets are notorious for this). We recommend avoiding feeing wild-caught insects and earthworms altogether for this reason. In case you’re wondering, dubia roaches are one of the safest insects when it comes to parasites!
To sum it all up, here are a few best practices to help you stay on the right track when it comes to feeder insects and keeping your reptile safe and healthy:
- Consult a reptile veterinarian or experienced reptile keeper for personalized recommendations on your specific reptile’s diet and feeding habits.
- Research and understand your reptile’s natural diet and nutritional needs.
- Offer a variety of feeder insects and/or other appropriate prey items.
- Dust feeders with calcium and vitamin supplements.
- Avoid overfeeding and stick to a proper feeding schedule.
- Gut-load feeder insects and offer them live whenever possible.
- House feeder insects properly and monitor for parasites.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your pet reptile receives a healthy and nutritious diet for a long and happy life.
Remember, providing proper care for your reptile involves more than just feeding them insects. Make sure you research their specific needs in terms of habitat, temperature, humidity, and enrichment activities. Happy reptile keeping!
Need to Buy Feeder Insects?
If you’re ready to stock up on the best staple insects for feeding pet reptiles, please consider purchasing your dubia roaches from The Bug Shed. We have many sizes to choose from and offer multi-unit and loyalty discounts to make feeing your scaly friend as affordable as possible. Plus, you can get 10% off your first order by joining our VIP newsletter – click here to get started!