All About Cricket Gut Loading
Gut loading crickets is a crucial part of keeping your reptiles healthy and happy. Since we are what we eat, it’s no different for your pet reptile.
Gut loading is essentially feeding the crickets nutritiously and making sure the cricket is as healthy as can be before you feed it to your pet.
That way when your pet reptile, whether it’s a gecko, frog or turtle, will get the benefits of all those nutrients.
The below guide explains it all in detail, so you can start doing it too.
Cricket Quick Reference Section
- Scientific Name: Grylloidea
- Family: Gryllidae
- Size: Up to 2 inches
- Diet: Omnivore
- Lifespan: 2 to 3 months as larva; 3 to 4 weeks as an adult
Cricket Gut Loading Guide
In the wild, crickets are omnivores that eat fruit, smaller insects, nectar, seeds, and may sometimes even take tiny bites out of dead animals.
When you order crickets, they may only come with orange cubes or some form of hydration like water crystals. You might even find a potato in there or something, but generally, they are not well-fed or gut loaded beforehand.
This is why it is your job to give them the nutrients they need to be healthy and fat for your pet or pets.
Here are some things you will need in order to feed them while also benefitting your reptile when it eats them:
You Will Need:
- 2-gallon faunarium or tank
- Your Bulk of Crickets
- Egg cartons
- Toilet roll cardboard core
- Reptile-safe fruits and vegetables (more details below)
- Non-sugary oatmeal, bran, or flakes (more details below)
- Paper towel or cotton ball
- Water bowls
- Powdered calcium supplement
- Small rocks (optional)
- Fish flakes (optional)
Steps to Prepare Your Feeder Tank
1. Buy your crickets
The very first step is to buy your crickets, of course! If you have a multiple animals to feed, then it may be worthwhile buying in bulk.
If you just have one, then buying a smaller quantity at your local pet store a couple days before will work.
Remember that you must gut load them 24 hours before feeding so if you are only feeding one reptile you probably do not need to buy in bulk.
Your other option which goes more along with having many animals to feed is to start your own cricket farm. Once it’s set up, you just have to maintain it.
2. Keep your crickets alive
If you do buy in bulk, be sure to check our guide on how to keep your crickets alive. No point in buying them if you can’t keep them alive.
To keep your crickets alive, you will need a place for them to live and eat where they can’t escape.
Find a 2 to 5-gallon faunarium (pictured above) or tank with breathing holes that have a screen and a very tight lid.
If you are worried about them escaping, you can use duct tape to shut any spaces they might be able to jump or crawl out of.
3. Feed your crickets
Feeding your crickets is the most important part when gut loading. The best things to give them are definitely oranges for some hydration and nutrients.
Good foods include spring greens, romaine lettuce, cabbage, apples, green grapes, butternut squash, potatoes or sweet potato, and whatever other fresh vegetables and fruits are safe for your reptile.
It is important to note here that avocados are toxic to many reptiles, so do not use this as food for your insects either.
There are also cricket feeders like the Flukers orange cubes available but you can just use some oatmeal or bran, but a whole, fresh food diet is a lot healthier and will keep them plump for your reptiles.
These can just be sprinkled on the ground of your tank. You can use fish flakes, oatmeal, and even non-sugary cereals.
Sprinkle a good handful at the bottom of their tank before you set them free. They will eat these and gain nutrition from them as well.
4. Keep your crickets hydrated
You need to keep your crickets hydrated. You can do this by adding a good water source such as a small water bowl with rocks and water in it or a wet paper towel, or cotton ball.
Oranges can be used as well, but shouldn’t be their primary source of hydration.
There are also hydrating cubes also called water crystals or gel that work. Both Flukers and Zilla offer those along with many other companies.
5. Supplement your crickets with calcium
You will also want to supplement your insects with calcium. Reptiles often lack calcium and need it supplemented in their food. One easy option there is to use Zilla’s cricket drink with calcium.
Flukers also has a cricket diet that includes calcium. Zoo Med offers a cricket block to add into the cricket enclosure.
Finally Zoo Med also has a calcium powder which you can just sprinkle on the insect right before feeding them. If you wait after adding the powder the insect will clean itself off over time which means it will have less powder later when feeding.
Steps for When Your Crickets Arrive
Once your tank is ready for your crickets and they have arrived, you want to make sure you are providing enough hiding spaces for your crickets since they can stress of they are too close to each other. Adequate space and hiding places are the best ways to keep them stress-free.
1. Move your crickets to their enclosure
When your crickets come, they may already be packaged with an egg carton in the container. If so, go ahead and move them right into your tank with the whole egg carton.
Place it right into their new home since they will end up needing to use it anyways. If there was not an egg carton with your crickets, you should definitely have one ready.
2. Add an extra hiding place
You should also add a toilet paper roll core to their tank as an extra little hiding place. This can also make it easier for you to pick them up when it comes time to feed.
3. Wait 24 hours before feeding them to your reptile
You’ll want to give the crickets, at the very least, 24 hours to absorb all those healthy nutrients and vitamins before trying to feed them to your reptile.
Once a day has passed on their new diet, they should be healthy and ready to be eaten!
Feeding Method 2: Food Cubes
If you want to make a feeder that you can freeze and use for later without having to go through cutting and preparation to feed your insects, there is a way you can create a puree (blended mixturte) and turn it into cubes.
You can simply get all the fruits and vegetables you were going to feed to them and put them into a blender with a little bit of water.
Pour the mix into an icecube tray and let it freeze overnight.
This is an easy way to get their nutrients in at a faster pace.
When serving, sprinkle the calcium powder supplement onto the cube after placing it into their tank.
They should eat this right up.
Gut loading your crickets is the best way to make sure your pet reptile is getting the most nutrition from his or her meal.
Make sure to do your research for your specific reptile since some are nocturnal and some are active in the daytime meaning they may require more or less of some vitamins.
There is really nothing better to feed them than a chubby, well-fed cricket with all the nutrients they would need in their diet. The extra love and time is required to prepare a nutritious meal for your pet.
Lastly, the below video does a great job of explaining the benefits of gut loading and additional things to think about for the process.
We would love to hear about your feeding process and any additional tips you might have, so be sure to leave a comment below.