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Breeding & Raising Insects for Reptiles

Updated on April 13, 2008
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Feeder Insects

There are many different insects that you can feed your pet reptiles. The more common feeder insects include crickets, mealworms, superworms, and silkworms. With each feeder insect, each has its own pros and cons.

Most people either make a homemade gut load or purchase a commercial brand, which aids in the nutritious value of insect. The old saying, "you are what you eat," really comes to play. You want to ensure that your pet reptiles are getting the best diet that you can provide by providing healthy foods. By feeding the feeder insects a gut load, you are ensuring that the feeders are healthy, so that your reptiles will get healthy foods.

On top of feeding feeder insects a proper gut load you need to dust the insects before feeding them to your pet reptiles. On average, you'll want to use a pure calcium supplement at least three times a week. Use calcium plus vitamin D3 at least once a week, and use a multi-vitamin at least twice a week.

Remember that whatever feeder insects that you decide to feed your pet reptiles, make sure that they are size appropriate. A general rule is to make sure that the insect is no larger than the width between the reptile's eyes.

Another rule to keep in mind, is to never feed your pet reptile insects from the yard. You can't guarantee that the little black crickets haven't traveled from your neighbor's neighbor who uses pesticides.


Good Staple Feeder Insects

Crickets are probably one of the best feeder insects that you can feed your pet reptiles. They are easy to come by and come in a variety of sizes. Most pet stores sale them, and they're fairly easy to breed.

Although, we strive to keep roaches out of our houses, don't Raid these roaches. Captive bred roaches are very nutritious for your reptiles. They have a high meat to shell ratio, which means that your pet reptiles do not have to eat as many before becoming full, but because they can reach 2", you'll want to feed nymphs (babies) to your smaller gecko species.

Mealworms are probably the second best staple feeder insect in terms of ease, smell, and gecko preferences. Mealworms are easy to raise and breed, and the perks are that they don't smell nearly as bad as crickets. Plus, mealworms can easily be fed to your reptile via a bowl with high sides to prevent them from crawling out.

Silkworms are a great staple diet, but they can get rather expensive if you constantly order them online. You can breed silkworms, but breeding silkworms s a little more complicated than breeding other feeder insects.

Superworms are ok to feed as a staple for larger reptiles. Some medium and smaller reptiles can successfully eat superworms, but their hard exoskeleton can be hard to digest.


Treats for Reptiles

Butterworms are high in calcium, but they're also high in fat. If you want to give your reptiles a treat, this is a healthy treat to provide. As with any treat, you don't want to give it in excess.

Phoenix worms are another great treat insect. They would be a great staple diet, except for the fact that they are just so expensive. If you can afford an average $6 a cup for about 35 to 50 worms, then I'd invest in a case of cups for your reptiles because they'd be a great staple, otherwise, phoenix worms make a healthy treat for your pet reptile.

Waxworms are a feeder insect that you want to provide at a bare minimum. They are very fatty and addictive. After feeding your reptile waxworms in excess in hopes to help your reptile gain a little weight, you'll find that your reptile will be just slightly addicted to eating waxworms. So keep waxworms out of the food bowl as best as you can, but one or two every now and then should be fine.

Thank You's

I want to thank David Falish for nutritional value chart above.


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    • mrkterhune profile image

      mrkterhune 6 years ago

      Interesting hub, I really appreciate this one.

    • Papa Sez profile image

      Papa Sez 7 years ago from The Philippines to Canada

      Hi Whitney, I enjoyed your informative hubs about raising insects for pet food. Have you considered entomophagy or insects as food for humans? I have a new hub that listed compelling reasons to do so. :) and as you know, one can easily rear safe to eat insects with minimal investment.


      Papa Sez

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I hjst read about a tacher that had her clase raise meal worms to beetles. It was interesting and the kids had fun as well.

      Very informative Hub!

    • chantelg4 profile image

      chantelg4 9 years ago from Northern Ontario

      This is a first for me, did not know about this stuff, though interesting. Great article.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      I have bookmarked it for later use. Thanks for the information. Cheers.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Whitney! As always, another great and informative hub.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Mealworms are simple to breed, just a tip, Never put them into one of those white Poly boxes. They eat straight through them. Good hub thanks for sharing