Feeding the Feeders Q&A with Clay Ghann
What we feed our feeders has been in the back of my mind since I covered the Abronia sp. Abronia tend to be calcium and vitamin sensitive. This started me thinking; what are we feeding our feeders, not just feeder insects, but also the feeder rodents we use to feed both snakes and large lizards. What is interesting, is how much trust we as keepers, place in our feeder suppliers to do right by us. One company I’ve always trusted is Ghann’s Cricket Farm. Here’s what Clay Ghann explained about Feeding the Feeders when it comes to crickets (Acheta domestica). *Note: any style differences links, italics, and or bolding are the editors.
We all hear about gut loading diets, both pellet form and greens, veggies, etc. Is there truly a difference in the nutritional values?
Personally, I think feeding a well-balanced grain-based insect diet to your crickets all the time precludes the need for true gut loading on a regular basis. But for the people who disagree with me and really believe in short-term gut loading, I recommend they feed the cricket to their animal immediately (within an hour or so) after providing the specialized diet to the crickets.
The digestive cycle of a cricket is pretty quick, so if you wait more than a couple of hours you may not be getting the benefit of what you fed the cricket.
What goes in must come out, you know, and with a cricket it happens pretty fast! As far as nutritional values of the diets themselves are concerned, I guess you just have to trust the manufacturer’s labeling.
Is there any specifics to make sure NOT to feed to our feeders?
Honestly I’ve never thought very deeply about that from a nutrition standpoint, but beyond the brutally obvious “no-no’s” (e.g. poisons), I don’t really think so.
Watering the Feeders
What is the best way water crickets? Rocks in water bowls, gel water, etc.?
BEST way is a fresh water source like a standard insect watering jar/fount device (available at Ghann.com as well as many other insect related websites) using a foam plug, clean cloth or paper towels for the water holding/delivery mechanism. Such a device does need to be kept fairly clean, meaning it should be emptied and washed with dishwashing liquid and refilled with clean water at least maybe twice a week (more is better). Rinsing with a little Clorox solution after washing is always a good idea too. A basic mason jar top will do the same thing, just doesn’t hold much water so there’s more of an opportunity for it to dry out & cause the insects to dehydrate, which is of course not good.
In both cases, take care to be sure the insects can climb up to the actual water – if they can’t get to it, it isn’t much good. The gel formulations are OK, but honestly not as good as a “real” water source in my opinion. We sell a fair amount of the gel (ours is called “Critterade“), and it’s fine as an occasional convenience “fill in” method of delivering water to insects, but…I really think fresh water is better. The gel has a tendency to make crickets feel full, causing them to eat less food, and also may provide less nutrition to the animal.
Keeping Feeders at Home
Any tips for feeding crickets at home to make them last?
Good balanced grain-based diet (like Ghann’s Cricket Chow!) fed free-choice (keep available to the crickets at all times)…fresh water source cleaned at least 2x a week…keep temperatures between 75 and 85 (the low-end is better for larger crickets, the high-end for smaller ones)…keep their container clean…and, of course, be sure you buy the right crickets to begin with!
Further Reading: Prey & Diet in Herpetoculture Check out the upcoming issue of HerpHouseMag